Although there are many cases in our files that are noteworthy, a few have come to national attention or are unusual enough to mention here. Regardless of the notoriety of any case, our objective is always to seek justice for our clients. Here are a few examples of our successes.
Nursing Care Malpractice
We represented an adult resident of a Group Home who was developmentally disabled. During a routine bath, the client was inexplicably immersed in scalding hot water and terribly burned. We presented claims against the company providing his care and the landlord of the premises where he lived.
The case went on for five years and was fought tooth and nail by the Defendants’ insurance companies. Prior to trial the most that was offered in settlement was $700,000. Two days before the end of the trial We rejected an offer of $1.1 million in settlement of the client’s claim against the Defendants. The next day the jury awarded our client $2.5 million, a fair award that will provide needed care for the client for the remainder of his life.
Unfounded Child Sexual Abuse Charges
We represented a Grandfather on unfounded criminal charges of child sexual abuse brought against him by a disgruntled relative on behalf of a young child. If proven, these charges would have sent our client to prison for many years. There was never a doubt in our mind that the charges were untrue and when we presented the prosecutor with the results of our investigation, he dropped the case on the day of trial.
Industrial Accident Resulting in Death
Our client was an elderly man whose only child, his son, was killed in a fall down an open elevator shaft at work. The Defendant employer claimed that the only benefits available were worker’s compensation – which would basically would have paid only for the son’s funeral. We developed a legal theory to sue the employer as a land owner which allowed us to present a claim for full compensatory damages on behalf of the father. The Defendant’s insurer eventually paid over the entire insurance coverage to the father –$500,000.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
A young man was involved in an accident in which his best friend was killed. The State charged the young man, our client, with a serious crime, Criminally Negligent Homicide. We tried the case to a jury and got a hung verdict. On the retrial our client was convicted but instead of the maximum sentence–five years in prison–we were able to convince the Judge to give our client probation.
In January 1987, Dan was asked to represent a man who had been convicted of the brutal slaying of two elderly people in New Castle County. The accused was a week away from execution, had fired his attorneys and was demanding to be put to death. The Delaware Supreme Court stepped in and agreed to delay the execution. Dan took the case. Bailey had been sentenced to death by hanging before the state passed a law banning it, and he wanted to be hanged for his crime. Dan represented Bailey in five different courts, using every argument possible to stay his execution. Dan shared Bailey’s last moments before his death and served as Bailey's witness at the execution. It was the first hanging in Delaware in 50 years and profoundly affected Dan, resulting in his vow to never again take a death penalty case.
James Allen Red Dog, a notorious murderer, wanted to be executed even though his legal team fought to save his life by arguing he was mentally incompetent. The Supreme Court of Delaware issued a Rule to Show Cause to have Red Dog’s lawyers explain why they should not be professionally sanctioned for opposing the wish of their client. Dan defended one of the Red Dog defense team arguing that it was simply wrong for the Supreme Court to sanction lawyers for trying to save a man’s life. The Supreme Court sanctioned the lawyers but, in an unusual move, imposed no punishment on them.
White Collar Crime
This Lyons’ client was accused of one count of perjury and 11 counts of fraud. He was a businessman who had “pay off” money extorted from him by a purchasing agent who had made threats. The client falsely denied both pay-off and threats in front of the grand jury. The case went to trial. Dan put the government’s star witness—the purchasing agent—on the witness stand, which resulted in his client’s acquittal of 11 out of 12 charges.
A man was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and accrued $250,000 in medical bills during his treatment. Because his treatment involved clinical trials, the insurance company refused to pay. The Lyons strategy? To conduct deep research into experimental treatment for melanoma—including reviewing insurance regulations and taking depositions from the insurance company’s officers who had participated in the denial decision. The depositions revealed there were no standards for the term “experimental”—it could mean anything the insurance company wished. Dan won the case and the man died knowing his family would not face deprivation due to the cost of his medical care.
As Assistant United States Attorney in California, Dan was part of a four-man team that represented the government in a drug racketeering prosecution of 28 Hells Angels. The case took nine months and involved the use of bulletproof glass, a courtroom gallery with spectators in full Hells Angels’ regalia and even death threats against the prosecution team members—including Dan.