Brett Turnbull and Jerome Tapley | Cruz v. Nissan North America, Inc. | $24.9 million verdict


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This week, your hosts Steve Lowry and Yvonne Godfrey interview Brett Turnbull of Turnbull Law Firm ( and Jerome Tapley of Cory Watson Attorneys (

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Episode Details:

Trial lawyers Brett Turnbull of Turnbull Law Firm and Jerome Tapley of Cory Watson Attorneys explain how they successfully represented grieving father Hilario Cruz after his wife and two young daughters were killed in a car crash caused by a faulty brake system. In 2012, a 2004 Infiniti QX56 SUV driven by Solomon Mathenge t-boned a Dodge Caravan in Los Angeles, resulting in the death of the driver, Hilario's wife, and daughters Stephanie, 4 and Hilda, 6. Solomon insisted that his brakes were not working properly. Originally charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter, Solomon later joined the case as an additional plaintiff, separately represented, against Nissan North America, Inc., due to the discovery of a history of braking issues in Infiniti vehicles. Nissan knew as early as 2003 that select models were equipped with a defective braking software with a "delta stroke sensor," which unnecessarily activated the car's optimized hydraulic braking. Despite this knowledge, Nissan failed to recall the vehicle or notify all vehicle owners. In 2017, a Los Angeles jury found Nissan's negligence to be 100% responsible for the three wrongful deaths and awarded plaintiffs compensatory damages totaling $24,931,109.

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Guest Bios:


Brett Turnbull has embraced the philosophy of keeping clients first in distinguishing himself as a leading trial lawyer, recognized for his jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients killed or injured by the negligent and wrongful actions of others. When Brett goes before a jury, he realizes he has one job: to get justice for his client by proving their claims and guiding the jury to award a fair and reasonable verdict.

Brett has more than a decade of successful courtroom experience in complex litigation, including trucking cases, product liability, automobile defects, pediatric burns, traumatic brain injury and nursing home malpractice.

Respect for individuals and for the justice system led Brett, a graduate of the University of Alabama, to pursue legal studies at The Cumberland School of Law. There, he discovered his true passion: trial law. As a class leader, Brett won national recognition for his trial advocacy skills.

That leadership track continued throughout Brett’s legal career. Today, he gives back to his profession by serving in leadership positions with the Alabama Association for Justice, Alabama State Bar, and Southern Trial Lawyers Association.

Brett and his wife Dawn have been married for 13 years and have four children–Brett, Arden, Miller, and Bess. When he’s not in the courtroom, you can find Brett and his family outside playing their favorite sports: baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, and tennis. They also enjoy taking time out of their busy schedule to relax at the lake or the beach for a weekend. The Turnbulls are active members at South Highland Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

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For Jerome Tapley, the decision to become a lawyer was a deeply personal one. When he was a boy, a family member died in a workplace accident. Jerome witnessed first-hand how lawyers could make a difference in people’s lives. The trial lawyers who represented his family successfully held the responsible party accountable for the tragedy, and he knew then that he wanted to be a trial lawyer. His road toward achieving that goal was not easy, but hard work has never been an obstacle for him.

Jerome was born in Alexander City, Alabama - a hard-working, cotton mill town that taught him the values of persistence, keeping his word, and doing his best. The lessons learned from his community propelled Jerome to become the first college graduate in his family. He graduated from Auburn University Montgomery, where he was Student Government President, and earned his law degree through Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

He is now a principal at Cory Watson Attorneys, focusing 100 percent on courtroom litigation and trial, including Class Action, Mass Tort, and Products Liability Litigation. He is admitted to all state and federal courts in Alabama and Florida. Jerome’s peers rightly view him as an accomplished trial lawyer, having tried cases in multiple venues across the country including a $25 million verdict for plaintiffs in an automotive defect case against Nissan in California, a $10 million wrongful death verdict in Alabama, and a $50 verdict against DuPont for pollution caused cancer in Ohio.

Notwithstanding his courtroom accomplishments, Jerome is more than a trial lawyer. Since joining Cory Watson in 2003, Jerome has become a shareholder, Co-Chair of the Class Action & Consumer Fraud litigation group, and a member of the firm’s management committee.

He has also served as Lead Counsel in a multitude of certified nationwide consumer fraud class actions against large corporations in jurisdictions across the country; has years of experience as Lead Counsel in multiple cases representing state Attorneys General, represented nearly every city and county in the State of Arkansas against every major Opioid manufacturer and distributor; and served leading roles for the firm in Multi-District Litigation, including appointment as Co-Lead Counsel in In re Google Inc. Gmail Litigation, MDL 2430.

Jerome’s cases often involve recalls or product redesigns resulting not only in financial recovery for the class, but also increased safety for the public. One such litigation involved two certified nationwide consumer fraud class actions against fireplace manufacturers who made dangerous glass-front fireplaces, successfully changing industry design standards to prevent severe third-degree burns to infants and toddlers.

Jerome has been married to his high school sweetheart, Kelli, for 20 years. Kelli is a pediatrician and loving mom to their two daughters, Madeline and Harper. In his free time, you can find Jerome with his family or quail hunting with his bird dog Duke. The Tapley family is active at Haven Field Community Church, where Jerome serves as Chairman of the Elders. Though Jerome has a variety of hobbies and interests, one of his favorite quotes speaks to his hard-working background: “No one has ever drowned in sweat.” - Lou Holtz.

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Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 1

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145 episodes