Craig Robert Maki is a Partner in Selman Breitman’s Los Angeles office and is a member of the firm’s Toxic Tort/Environmental, Products Liability, and General Liability practice groups. Craig represents insureds and private clients in liability cases arising out of exposure to asbestos, mold, silica, benzene and other hazardous substances. Craig’s clients include a wide variety of companies, ranging from local construction material manufacturers, to regional automotive repair facilities and suppliers, to multi-national equipment manufacturers. He also has experience in defending individuals and companies in disputes that involve complex general liability issues and business disputes.
Craig’s considerable experience in toxic tort/environmental provides him a unique ability to evaluate and defend complex liability matters involving multi-million dollar claims up to verdict, where settlement is not a viable option. His extensive knowledge of medical issues makes him an asset in evaluating cases, formulating defense strategies, examining medical/scientific experts and arguing causation before judges or juries. Whether resolving a case through voluntary dismissal, summary adjudication, settlement or verdict, he works closely with Claim Representatives and ensures that a thorough defense is provided to the client, while maintaining close control over litigation costs to best serve his client's interests.
Craig has been responsible for several published opinions before the California Court of Appeals, including the important case O'Hearn v. Hillcrest Gym and Fitness Center (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 491, dealing with permissible evidence for determination of damages. In addition, his 2014 trial defense verdict in the asbestos case Lee v. Amcord, was featured in multiple national publications.
Craig is called upon by clients, as well as by insurance and legal organizations, to give presentations on various subject matters relating to asbestos and other harmful materials, including those specifically relating to handling of defense litigation and insurance coverage for actions involving toxic exposure. He has also been recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer for several consecutive years, along with many other accolades.
Craig is a Southern California native, and resides there with his three children. When not helping clients with their legal needs he spends his time with his children in their sporting or school activities, hiking/exploring and traveling.
- Obtained a defense verdict in a $10 million mesothelioma trial wherein it was alleged that plaintiff's mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos while laundering clothes for her husband, a general contractor. Selman Breitman's trial team countered with a medically complex, three-tiered defense to convince the jury that plaintiff's mesothelioma and subsequent death were not the result of exposure to asbestos dust on her contractor husband's clothing.
- Obtained judgment of non-suit in stomach cancer case alleged from asbestos exposure. After deposition testimony of plaintiff's medical experts established lack of causal relationship between exposure and disease, defense precluded experts from testifying at trial. The resultant inability to prove the medical aspects of their case led to the non-suit in favor of client defendant.
- Defended and resolved actions by individuals alleging exposure to toxins released from manufacturing facility. Use of expert reconstructions showed nominal potential for environmental exposure to toxins being transported to the plaintiffs' residences, based upon the historical weather patterns and topography of the area surrounding the manufacturing facility.
- Dismissal was obtained for a waiver of costs on behalf of a cement manufacturer, after filing a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that there was no evidence that decedent was exposed to asbestos from any products manufactured by client. Plaintiffs alleged that decedent, a plasterer, developed mesothelioma while working as a plasterer throughout Southern California.
- Defended and resolved construction materials defendant in multi-million dollar asbestos exposure suit by prominent sports figure and actor after developing and passing away from mesothelioma. Through detailed examination of witnesses, were able to establish minimal exposure to the client's products and exaggerated damages allegations. Matter resolved at a small fraction of the initial multi-million dollar demand.
- Succeeded in obtaining summary adjudication in action for personal liability against construction materials company. Through evidence developed in depositions of plaintiffs and other witnesses, were able to show that the products to which plaintiff was exposed did not contain asbestos and therefore could not have contributed to development of disease.
- Obtained summary judgments in multiple actions against naval decking contractor in asbestos litigation after establishing plaintiffs' inability to show causation between work performed by defendant and the plaintiff's ultimate development of disease.
- Represented various manufacturers and suppliers of construction materials in cases alleging toxic exposure to asbestos. Many cases resulted in an early dismissal of the client after depositions were taken, while others resulted in favorable settlements well before trial.
- Following binding arbitration of a toxic tort claim before a Retired California Supreme Court Justice, obtained a favorable result consistent with low predicted value in high/low arbitration. Defense of case emphasized expert witness attack on medical science underlying plaintiff's claims.
- Successfully struck service of summons and complaint on out-of-state manufacturing concern after establishing lack of connection with the State of California sufficient to create minimum contacts. Texas corporation who acted as a parent corporation for multiple California corporations was shown to have no direct contact with the state sufficient to create personal jurisdiction.
- Obtained defense verdict in premises liability action where plaintiff slipped on water in her bathroom at a hotel. Evidence that plaintiff intentionally left the water on the floor because she was dissatisfied with the level of maid service convinced the jury that the plaintiff was responsible for her own injuries.
- Reached defense verdict in favor of personal trainer client in defense of an action for injuries resulting from alleged professional malpractice. Plaintiff alleged injuries during stretching exercises administered by personal trainer and claimed that the medical condition of gout resulted form the injury. Expert testimony established that the medical condition was caused by diet, not injury, and that the trainer conducted himself appropriately at all times.
- Obtained defense verdict after 2-week trial in a negligent security matter. Plaintiff was injured when mugged in a small crafting materials shop owned by defendant. While plaintiff was injured on the premises, defendants showed that the level of security present was reasonable given the lack of prior similar incidents and the low cost of merchandise in the store.
- Appeal of plaintiff verdict in an action for misappropriation of likeness of an athlete by defendant gym. Trial court improperly permitted evidence of prior settlements of lawsuits for unrelated incidents to go to the jury as evidence of damages of the present misappropriation action. Court of Appeals overturned the judgment as improper.
Professional Associations and Memberships
- State Bar of California
- Los Angeles Bar Association
- Association of Southern California Defense Counsel
- Super Lawyers: 2012-2019