Robert B. Bale is a partner with Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP. He joined the firm in 2002, and his focus has been on representing plaintiffs in personal injury matters.
Bob Bale brings a wealth of life experience to the practice of personal injury law. For over a decade before he started practicing law, Bob served as the vice president of marketing for a large, privately held corporation. In that capacity, he gained valuable knowledge about the ways that private and public businesses work. That background has been especially helpful in his prosecution of personal injury actions against corporate wrongdoers.
Over the course of the past decade Bob and firm namesake Roger Dreyer have obtained a series of verdicts in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, a number of which have garnered national media attention.
In Strange v. Entercom, a Sacramento jury returned a verdict in excess of $17 million for the wrongful death of Jennifer Strange, the young mother of three children who died after participating in a radio contest to see who could drink the most water during a popular morning show. This was the largest personal injury verdict for a wrongful death in the history of that county.
In Bell v. MasterCraft, a Butte County jury awarded over $32 million to two young women struck by the propeller of an X-45 wakeboard boat, the highest amount ever in that county.
In Mauro v. Ford Motor Company, another Sacramento jury awarded over $20 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages for the wrongful death of one passenger and personal injuries to two others, another record verdict.
In 2018, Roger and Bob, along with partner Noemi Esparza, obtained a verdict of $36,197,264 in Aguirre v. Nissan Motor Company for catastrophic injuries to a young father of four children caused by a defect in a 2001 Nissan Xterra. These defects caused the Nissan to accelerate suddenly on its own until it crashed under a parked big-rig trailer. The crash crushed the A-pillar and firewall, and severed Mr. Aguirre’s spinal cord, rendering him a quadriplegic. Over the next three years, Nissan unsuccessfully appealed the verdict all the way to California’s Supreme Court. After the appeals ended Nissan ultimately paid over $52,000,000 on the verdict because of interest and other statutory costs awarded. During the case, Nissan attempted to limit Mr. Aguirre’s injuries under an antiquated law that allowed reductions in recovery based on immigration status of the injured persons. That attempt prompted Bob to draft California evidence Code Section 352.1, which rendered evidence of immigrant status inadmissible for any purpose related to a personal injury litigation. Together with partner Noemi Esparza, and working with Consumer Attorneys of California and Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez who sponsored the bill, California’s legislature passed Section 352.1 into law effective January 1, 2018, before trial started. That code now serves to protect millions of California residents injured by the negligence of others. In recognition of that verdict and the changes in the law that Bob and Noemi were able to achieve, Consumer Attorneys of California nominated Roger, Bob, and Noemi as its Trial Attorneys of the Year for 2022.
In 2020, Roger and Bob tried to verdict Mezger v. Beechcraft Aviation, arising out of the wrongful deaths of Dr. Matthew Mezger and his wife, Mary Patricia Hughes. Both died after the Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft Dr. Mezger owned and was piloting lost power and crashed shortly after take-off from Pulliam Field in Flagstaff, Arizona. Roger and Bob represented the three adult children of Matt and Patricia. During trial, they established a pattern of similar failures in Bonanza aircraft equipped with the IO-55-B engine installed in the Mezger’s plane. They also proved that the loss of power was due to overheating in the Number 5 cylinder of the aircraft’s engine, which at the high altitude in Flagstaff, made it impossible for Dr. Mezger to gain or keep altitude. Of key note, and despite Beechcraft’s aggressive claims to the contrary, the verdict apportioned zero fault to Dr. Mezger. The verdict in that case was $21,600,000.
In 2016, a fire at the Ghost Ship Warehouse in Oakland claimed the lives of 36 individuals. Ultimately, a coalition of 45 attorneys from 25 firms representing 78 plaintiffs, filed wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits against the building owner the Ng family trust; City of Oakland; and PG&E, along with assorted other defendants. The civil litigation alleged primary causes of action for negligence, premises liability, breach of statutory duties, and public nuisance. After case consolidation, Plaintiffs appointed an Executive Committee to manage the litigation. The ExCom members were Bob Bale; Thomas Brandi of The Brandi Law Firm; Christopher Dolan of the Dolan Law Firm PC and Mary Alexander of Mary Alexander and Associates. This legal team obtained one of the largest settlements of its kind in the nation, even as the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the courts and other parts of the legal system. The cases resolved in 2021 after a series of mediations helmed by ExCom on behalf of all Plaintiffs. Bob’s leadership was a key factor during these successful mediations. That same year, Consumer Attorneys of California nominated the ExCom members as its trial attorneys of the year.
In 2022 and on the eve of trial, Roger and Bob settled Richmond, et al against Polaris Industries, Inc. and Polaris Sales, Inc., the manufacturers and distributors of a popular line of off-highway vehicles that include the Polaris RZR. That case involved serious burn injuries to the driver and three passengers in a 2017 Polaris XP-1000 RZR. Three of the occupants sustained significant burn or burn-related injuries. The fourth, a 24-year old recent college graduate named Paige Richmond, ultimately died of those burns. Plaintiffs alleged that design and manufacturing defects in the RZR’s engine and exhaust system caused the fire, which created extremely hot temperatures on metal surfaces in close proximity to fuel rails and fuel lines that melted, exposing gasoline to the hot surfaces, resulting in a rapidly spreading fire that quickly consumed the passenger compartment.
At the CCTLA Annual Awards Event on December 8th, 2022, held this year at the Sutter Club, Bob received the Award for 2021 Advocate of the Year. This award was, "in recognition of the recipient's outstanding advocacy in the last twelve months on behalf of consumers, and for his intrepid work in support of the ideals and goals of the Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association." The event was heavily attended by Judges from Sacramento County Superior Court, including the current Presiding Judge Hon. Michael G. Bowman. Bob received the reward in recognition of his work on the Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire case, in addition to his efforts in other significant cases.
Bob is a Past President and Emeritus member of the Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association. For over a decade, he has also served on the Consumer Attorneys of California Board of Governors, where he continues to assist in the review and drafting of legislation intended to protect and advance consumer rights. Both organizations are dedicated to safeguarding the rights of injured persons to trial by jury. Bob is also an Emeritus member of the Anthony M. Kennedy Inns of Court. Bob has received national recognition on multiple occasions for his contributions to the American Inns of Court, a national organization devoted to educating and promoting ethical conduct in the legal profession.
Areas Of Practice
- Personal Injury Litigation
- Wrongful Death
- Construction Accidents
- Product Liability
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Strange v. Entercom
- Bell v. Mastercraft
- Mauro v. Ford Motor
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association, Vice President on the Board of Directors
- Consumer Attorneys of California, Board of Governors, Present
- Anthony M. Kennedy Inns of Court, Emeritus Member, Present
- Association of Trial Lawyers