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Tran v. Arellano

California Court of Appeal
2011 WL 1548344 (2011)


Leonel Arellano (defendant) drove while drunk and sped through a stop sign, t-boning Bun Bun Tran (plaintiff) and causing severe injuries. In closing statements, Tran’s attorney recited the poem “First They Came for the Jews,” and told the jury, “If you accept this man as vegetative, and that no work should be done to teach him how to communicate again, the same insensitivity will be visited upon you and your loved ones, because society accepts what we tolerate.” Arellano’s counsel did not object or ask the court for an admonishment. Later Tran’s attorney asked the jury, “Would anyone . . . exchange life with Bun Tran?” Arellano’s counsel objected on Golden Rule grounds, and the court struck the statement. Tran’s counsel also implied that Arellano had insurance that could pay a multi-million-dollar verdict, stating, “My client needs compensation. . . . Arellano is the most appropriate and the best source. You cannot speculate, as the Court said, on funding. But we are here, I am here, because I know who the real cause is, and I know my client needs compensation.” Arellano did not object during closing but moved for a mistrial the next day because of the reference. The judge refused to grant a mistrial, and the jury awarded Tran over $23 million. Arellano appealed on multiple grounds, including challenging Tran’s closing statements as impermissibly violating the Golden Rule and implying that Arellano had insurance.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McIntyre, J.)

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