Timothy Trecek | Vanderventer v. Hyundai Motors Company, Hyundai Motor America, Kayla M. Schwartz | $38.1 million verdict

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This week, your hosts Steve Lowry and Yvonne Godfrey interview Timothy Trecek of Habush, Habush & Rottier S.C. (https://www.habush.com/).

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Episode Details:

Two-time Wisconsin Association for Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award winner Timothy Trecek of Habush, Habush & Rottier S.C. shares how he successfully represented Edward Vanderventer, Jr. and his wife Susan after Edward was rendered a paraplegic following a traffic accident due to a seatback defect in the 2013 Hyundai Elantra. In July 2015, Edward was driving a Hyundai Elantra when he slowed down to make a left turn and was hit from behind by a 17-year-old driver. Upon impact, Edward's headrest flew backwards into the back seat and the headrest guide poles within the seatback deformed toward his spine. The headrest guide poles separated his spinal column, rendering him a paraplegic. Despite Hyundai's attempts to blame Edward's spinal injuries on the rear-end crash and a degenerative spinal condition, the Racine County, Wisconsin jury found Hyundai negligent in the design and testing of the driver's seat. In February 2020, the jury awarded $38,164,263 in damages to Edward and Susan Vanderventer, resulting in the largest single plaintiff compensatory award in Wisconsin history and a landmark victory for Timothy Trecek in the same courtroom where he experienced his first trial victory as a high school mock trial attorney 36 years earlier.

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Guest Bio:

Timothy Trecek

In 2020, as lead trial counsel, Tim Trecek obtained a $38.1 million verdict against Hyundai Motor Company, for a defectively designed seat back and head restraint system in his client’s 2013 Hyundai Elantra (see news story). The verdict is the largest single plaintiff compensatory award in Wisconsin history. The verdict included $7.77 million for the plaintiff’s spouse, another record for Wisconsin verdicts. Based on the significance of his 2020 verdict, Tim was honored to receive the Robert L. Habush, Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, the second time being recognized with said award (read acceptance speech). He was also awarded The Litigation Counsel of America’s Tommy Malone Outstanding Verdict Award, an honor bestowed upon one attorney in the US whose verdict is extraordinary in amount or significance.

Tim is the Vice President, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Secretary of Habush Habush & Rottier and has been a member of the law firm since 1995. He is a managing partner of both the Milwaukee and West Bend offices. Tim specializes in all types of personal injury litigation. He has successfully litigated cases involving automobile defects (airbags, seatbelts, seats and structural integrity), construction accidents, mis-filled prescriptions, car/motorcycle accidents, truck/semi accidents, slip/trip and falls, dog bites, injuries involving horses, brain injuries, RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), machine defects (saws, chippers, cement mixer defects, deer stands, snow blowers), child car seats, personal watercraft, and specialized experience with serious burn injuries from events such as explosions and utility/electrical accidents.

Tim has worked on cases throughout the United States. Due to his significant trial experience, he has been certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and has been selected for exclusive membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates. He was recognized in the January 25, 2006 issue of the Wisconsin Law Journal (see article) for holding three of the state’s top five settlements in 2005. In 2009, he obtained the third largest reported award in the State of Wisconsin ($6 million) for his client who was injured in an accident with a semi-trailer truck.

In February of 2011, Tim obtained a $16 million award on behalf of eight injured scaffold workers involved in a dust explosion at the WE Energies Oak Creek plant. This is the largest award in the State’s history involving injuries caused by an explosion of PRB (Powder River Basin) coal dust. It also makes Tim the only attorney in Wisconsin to have four multi-million-dollar recoveries against the State’s largest utility.

In 2011, the Wisconsin Association for Justice selected Tim as the annual recipient of the prestigious Robert L. Habush Wisconsin Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for the first time (read acceptance speech). Additionally, he was named as one of Wisconsin’s Leaders in the Law in 2008 by the Wisconsin Law Journal. In 2013 Tim was accepted as a Fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Attorneys, one of the youngest recipients of this venerable honor. In 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021, he was honored to be listed as “Lawyer of Year” for Product Liability Litigation in Milwaukee, by Best Lawyers in America. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2010. In 2020, Tim was inducted into the invitation-only Summit Council, an exclusive group of the nation’s top civil justice attorneys. Membership requires at least three verdicts of $1 million and at least one verdict in excess of $10 million. From 1999 to 2007, Tim served two terms on the District 2 Committee of the Office of Lawyer Regulation at the request of the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Since 2005, Tim has been teaching an Advanced Trial Practice course at Marquette University Law School. He has given speeches to other lawyers on a variety of legal topics. Using his experience in child car seat defect cases, he has given presentations to parents of preschool children concerning the safe use of child car seats. He is also a Fellow in the International Society of Barristers (proudly serving on their Board of Governors), the invitation-only Litigation Counsel of America, a Fellow in The American Bar Foundation, and a member of the invitation-only Summit Council. Additionally, Tim has been recognized on the Wisconsin Super Lawyers list each year since 2006, making the Wisconsin Top 10 list in 2014 and 2018 – 2020, and the Milwaukee Top 25 list since 2011; in 2020, he was one of the top vote recipients. Tim also serves on the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee’s Board of Directors. The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee is one of the nation’s oldest, continuously operating, public interest law firms.

Although he was born, raised, and works in southeastern Wisconsin, Tim has earned a national reputation as a successful plaintiff’s trial lawyer. Tim’s successes have been so noteworthy that they have been chronicled in papers such as the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and dozens of other publications. Tim is also actively involved in his church and the community.

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Free Resources:

Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 1

Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 2

145 episodes