P|S|R Attorneys Recognized with California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award

Posted on June 26, 2024

Left to right: PSR attorneys Trevor Weitzenberg, Rahul Ravipudi, John Shaller, and Paul Traina

Rahul Ravipudi, Paul Traina, John Shaller, and Trevor Weitzenberg of Panish | Shea |Ravipudi LLP, alongside co-counsel at Morris, Sullivan & Lemkul, have been recognized as 2024 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award recipients by Daily Journal for their work on Greener v. Del Mar Jiu-Jitsu. The 28th Annual CLAY Award honors a select group of attorneys throughout the state “for achievements with a significant impact on public policy, the law, the profession, or a particular practice area.”

In Greener v. Del Mar Jiu-Jitsu, Plaintiff Jack Greener was a participant in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class at Del Mar Jiu-Jitsu Club. During the sparring session of the class, Greener, a 23-year-old one-stripe white belt beginner, was paired with his black belt instructor, Francisco Iturralde. While sparring, Iturralde executed a technique that Greener had not been introduced to, trained on, or practiced before. This unfamiliar move resulted in Greener sustaining a spinal cord injury, rendering him an incomplete quadriplegic. Plaintiff sued both Iturralde and the Del Mar Jiu Jitsu Club for negligence, claiming they unreasonably increased the risk over and above those risks inherent in a Brazilian Jui Jitsu class.  At the conclusion of trial, the jury delivered a $46,475,112.33 verdict in favor of Plaintiff Greener. In addition to the $637,959 for Plaintiff’s loss of past and future earnings and $1,337,153.23 for past medical expenses agreed to by the parties prior to trial, the jury awarded Mr. Greener $8,500,000 for future medical expenses, $11,000,000 for past pain and suffering, and $25,000,000 for future pain and suffering.

The trial lasted nearly a month in San Diego County.

“It was a battle the whole way through,” Mr. Ravipudi told the Daily Journal in an interview. “The defense was, ‘Hey, it’s Brazilian, and people get hurt. The end.'”

During the trial, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Rener Gracie demonstrated moves and techniques on Mr. Ravipudi to show the jury how reckless the instructor’s actions were and how how obvious it would have been that significant injury would result. The jury was standing and leaning over to watch every move.

The backlash to the large verdict was so strong, Gracie went on Instagram twice to debate challengers and explain what he did and why. “In effect, he told the community, ‘if we’re going to somehow embrace what the instructor did, we’re embracing the demise of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,'” said Mr. Ravipudi, adding that the verdict and Gracie’s Instagram posts have made a difference in the entire industry.

For more on the Daily Journal interview, subscribers can login and read more about the recognition here.

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