In the highly competitive world of personal injury law, there are not many firms that can claim a 99 percent success rate.
San Diego-based Estey & Bomberger is one such firm. As a result, it regularly attracts both national and local media attention, being featured on CNN, the CBS Evening News, The Associated Press, Reuters, Telemundo, Univision, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Founded in 1997 by Mike Bomberger ’92 and fellow alum and best friend Stephen Estey ’92, the firm has been representing victims of sexual assault for more than 22 years and has recovered several million dollars in settlements and verdicts over that time.
“I began specializing in personal injury because I liked that each case was different,” says Bomberger. “As I practiced more in that area, I began to enjoy the personal relationships that you form with clients and the gratitude and satisfaction they show at the conclusion of their cases.”
Over the last several years, Estey & Bomberger has specialized in sexual assault cases and have the largest verdicts in single person sexual assault cases in U.S. history. They attribute much of this success to doing many focus groups on each case and hiring sexual assault victim advocates that work closely with their clients. It is no surprise that Bomberger & Estey are at the forefront of lawsuits against ridesharing giants Uber and Lyft, and that their firm has received national recognition for their work in this area.
“Our firm represents over 100 women that have been assaulted by Uber and Lyft drivers,” says Bomberger. “Both of these companies have made changes to their business model and app as a result of our work representing these victims/survivors.”
In the latest lawsuit filed in December 2019 against Lyft, the firm is representing 19 women who say the popular ridesharing service failed to prevent drivers from sexually assaulting them, then ignored their complaints.
“This lawsuit is the tip of the iceberg because tens of thousands of women have been assaulted in rideshare vehicles,” says Bomberger. “It is important to remember that the problem affects not only passengers, but that drivers are assaulted as well.”
Bomberger believes that the first step in addressing the sexual assault epidemic that exists in the rideshare industry is for the major players to acknowledge there is a problem.
“Uber has done that to some extent with their most recent report regarding sexual assaults,” says Bomberger. “Lyft has not yet acknowledged a problem and must do that before they can adequately address it.”
According to Bomberger, there are multiple changes that both of these companies can make to prevent these assaults. “One of the most important is to let drivers know that they will be held accountable when assaults occur,” he says. “Both companies need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding assaults. They should also have mandatory reporting. When they learn of an assault, it should be reported to the police. That sends a message to the driver that assaults will not be tolerated. They should also add a recording device to the app.”
Defining the firm’s success, Bomberger cites a combination of painstakingly detailed work to build rock-solid cases and the intention of trying all cases.
“Most attorneys take cases, and they settle, settle, settle,” explains Bomberger. “Well, we are not a firm that likes to settle our cases unless the insurance companies offer us top value. It is why we have so many verdicts over $10 million. In most of those cases, we were offered less than $1 million prior to trial. Our verdicts naturally result in us obtaining better settlements over the years.”
Both Bomberger and Estey credit California Western with providing them practical experience that they could easily translate into the workplace.
“There is much more to running a law firm or law practice than knowing the law and understanding how to research the law,” says Bomberger. “I think California Western provides graduates an edge in this regard.”
Bomberger and Estey started their law firm from nothing, building it into a nationally-recognized award-winning practice with an enviable success record. They counsel newly minted lawyers to think carefully before jumping at the first job that comes their way.
“Many people that I know in my graduating class took the highest paying job with the biggest law firms,” says Bomberger. “I know that many of those people have not had an enjoyable or satisfying experience and have ‘burned out’ in those positions.”
His advice is simple.
“Do something that you are passionate about and enjoy it. Your quality of life will be much better for you and for those around you.”