Aitken Aitken Cohn Trial Team Named CAOC’s ‘Consumer Attorney of the Year’ Finalist for Holding GOP Accountable in Catastrophic Injury Case


SANTA ANA, Calif. (August 31, 2021)Consumer Attorneys of California announced today lead counsel Chris Aitken, co-lead counsel Megan Demshki, and attorney Wylie Aitken of Aitken Aitken Cohn are finalists for 2021’s Consumer Attorney of the Year Award.

As one of eight finalists, Aitken Aitken Cohn’s trial team is up for consideration for representing Richard Ruehle, a husband, and father of six children catastrophically injured in a freeway crash caused by an unlicensed driver, Joseph Chavez. With Chavez’s minimal insurance coverage and the fact that police initially found him at fault for the incident, the prospects of Ruehle receiving compensation for his injuries seemed dim.

But the plaintiff’s legal team discovered Chavez was connected to a much larger enterprise through his work as a paid employee of the 2016 Eric Linder for State Assembly campaign, which was uninsured. They painstakingly found evidence establishing that Chavez was an employee of Linder’s campaign, which was in a joint venture with the California Republican Party to collect data from potential voters.

A few days before the start of trial, the attorneys reached a settlement with the California Republican Party and its insurer that allowed Ruehle to be reasonably compensated for his life-changing injuries.

The $11 million settlement ended nearly five years of intense litigation that exposed severe dangers associated with the lax standards of paid political campaign precinct walkers.

“We’re thrilled that CAOC has recognized the importance of this case which helps expose the ongoing dangers of political campaigns which have become big business, with goals far beyond a single election,” said lead attorney Chris Aitken.

“In addition to providing compensation for our client who struggles with life-changing injuries that left him a quadriplegic, this resolution ensures that political campaigns will not escape accountability for hiring unlicensed drivers,” said co-lead counsel Megan Demshki.

“Political parties and campaigns must be held to the same standards as for-profit businesses when putting paid employees on our roadways,” said attorney Wylie Aitken. “It’s critical to vet campaign employees to confirm that their workers are, at a minimum, licensed drivers.”

The case was litigated in Orange County Superior Court. (Court # 30-2017-00912044)