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Scott Ritsema - A Lawyer Who Fights for the People

Scott Ritsema - California personal injury attorneyScott Ritsema became a personal injury lawyer because he wanted to represent people, not corporations. He gleans maximum satisfaction from the fact that he is fighting every single day to protect the rights of catastrophically injured individuals and is helping them obtain the only form of justice that is available to them.

When he began his career as an attorney, he worked as a defense lawyer representing the interests of large corporations and insurance companies. He was still winning and building up his resume. But he found that while winning cases for corporations and insurance companies gave him professional satisfaction, he got absolutely no personal satisfaction. He had done his job well, but he was not passionate about his victories. Somehow, Ritsema found that he could comfortably rest on those laurels.

Personal Injury Law - A Calling

For Ritsema, personal injury law practice is not just a job. It's a calling. He realized the tough situations many clients are placed in when they come to a personal injury lawyer.

"These are people who, without us and without the civil justice system, have no recourse, no remedies," he says. "It's no exaggeration when I say they put their lives and their financial future in our hands."

Some may view that as a lot of pressure, but for Ritsema it's a welcome challenge. Recently, Ritsema led a Bisnar | Chase legal team that obtained a $30 million judgment for 25-year-old Lucas Vogt, who suffered a catastrophic brain injury in a 2011 motorcycle accident.

For Ritsema, the satisfaction in these cases comes from providing a family the means to deal with a catastrophic injury. Ritsema's hope in this case was that Lucas Vogt would be able to have the best recovery, the best quality of life under the circumstances and that he would be able to maximize his time with his young daughter.

He also sees how many of the law firm's catastrophically injured clients face significant physical emotional and financial challenges. It's not just the victims, but also their families that suffer life-changing consequences after a traumatic event such as a catastrophic crash.

The Romine Case

Ritsema is a "very, very smart and gifted attorney" who needs no supervision. This comes from his supervisor and the firm's senior partner, Brian Chase.

"In addition to being a skilled trial attorney, Ritsema is a great researcher, writer and negotiator," Chase says. Ritsema has also been "a rock" for the trial team, someone who could be counted on no matter how tough things got. Chase recalls the Jaklin Romine case against Johnson Controls at the end of which Chase and Ritsema got a $24.7 million verdict for the client, who was paralyzed due to a seatback defect. But during the trial, Chase was faced with an expert witness who showed up unprepared.

"I was dead tired," Chase said. "Even if I pulled an all-nighter, I don't think we would've been ready for court the next day."

So Chase called Ritsema at 8 p.m. the night before and asked him if he had any witnesses he could put on the stand the next day in place of the unprepared expert and fill the entire day.

And this is all Ritsema said: "Yes, I got this boss."

Just like that, Chase knew he had it.

"Not many people, if anyone, can tell me that and give me the level of comfort Scott did," Chase said. "He pulled it off. I went straight to bed and got a good night's sleep. I prepared my expert the next day and all went well."

Early Life and Education

Ritsema was born in Michigan, but grew up primarily in Newport Beach. He moved back to Michigan in his teens and graduated from Grandville High School in 1979 near the top of his class and as a two-year member of the National Honor Society. Ritsema got his bachelor's degree in psychology from UCLA in 1984 and his law degree from UC Davis in 1988. He was admitted to the State Bar of California that same year.

Professional Accomplishments

Ritsema has brought 16 trials to verdict and conducted more than 50 arbitrations to conclusion. He has handled more than 20 cases, which resolved in excess of seven figures since joining the firm, including more than $10,000,000 in settlements in the first half of 2014 alone. Here are some of Ritsema's recent case results:

Vogt v. Saldate: Over $38,650,000 in settlements and judgments on behalf of a permanently brain-injured man injured in a motorcycle versus car accident in 2012.

Romine v. Johnson Controls: $24,700,000 jury verdict in an auto accident case where a young woman was paralyzed due to a defective seat that collapsed in a rear-end accident.

Maciel v. Defendant Cleaning Corporation: $7,000,000 settlement on behalf of a 2-year-boy in a caustic ingestion case in 2013.

Boynton v. Caselli: $2,000,000 stipulated judgment in a drunk driving case in which our client was killed in 2013.

Villamor v. Bragonnier: $1,000,000 settlement on automobile versus pedestrian collision in 2010.

Farris v. Azusa Pacific University: $1,500,000 judgment against the City of Azusa for dangerous roadway condition and a confidential settlement from Azusa Pacific University for negligence.

Career and Accomplishments

Ritsema belongs to a number of professional organizations including the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, American Association for Justice and Consumer Attorneys of California. Mr. Ritsema was named a Best Lawyer in 2015 by the national publication, BestLawyer. In 2012, Scott Ritsema and Brian Chase were named Consumer Attorneys of the Year in all of California by the Consumer Attorney of California (CAOC), a professional association for attorneys who represent plaintiffs who seek to hold wrongdoers accountable. Despite his extremely busy schedule, Ritsema is committed to giving back to his community. He actively supports Mothers Against Drunk Driving and participates in the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure to help raise awareness and generate funds for breast cancer research.

An Important Member of the Bisnar | Chase Family

Ritsema says he values the opportunity Bisnar | Chase has given him to join the "major leagues" of personal injury litigation. "Bisnar | Chase has the best environment of any place I've worked," he says. "This firm is truly unique in that respect."

Ritsema feels as if he has truly found his calling as a personal injury lawyer at Bisnar | Chase. "I'm in the company of like-minded people here who have the passion to fight and win for those who have suffered tremendous losses in their lives. I consider it an honor and privilege to be able to give injured clients a voice and to fight for their rights."

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The BISNAR | CHASE Difference

  • “I was in a serious auto accident when I was in law school. I had to hire a personal injury attorney and had a really bad experience.”

    John Bisnar

    on what made him want to become a personal injury attorney

  • “I went to law school knowing I wanted to be a personal injury attorney. I wanted my life’s work to have a positive impact on other people’s lives.”

    Brian Chase

    on what made him want to become a personal injury attorney

  • “Whatever the philosphy of the management is, is going to be carried through by the employees and it’s going to reflect on the experience the clients have.”

    John Bisnar

    on his philosophy on running a law firm

  • “Everybody either drives in a car or rides in a car, so when I do the auto defect cases I really feel like I’m making the world safer by making vehicles safer.”

    Brian Chase

    on why he focuses on auto defect cases

  • “The first thing we want to do with our clients is to relieve the stress. Make them feel comfortable. Treat them as an honored guest.”

    John Bisnar

    on how he would define superior client representation

  • “Corporate greed is a reality in our world and I see it time and time again. Especially, with the auto defect cases we focus on.”

    Brian Chase

    on corporate greed and how it affects the consumer

  • “You are dealing with people who are seriously injured or have lost a family member...Compassion is understanding someone else’s situation.”

    John Bisnar

    on the role compassion plays in his profession

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