Patrick Mendes, left, and Robert Tyson started their law firm in 2002. Photo courtesy of Tyson & Mendes LLP.

Patrick Mendes, left, and Robert Tyson started their law firm in 2002. Photo courtesy of Tyson & Mendes LLP.

Tyson & Mendes LLP is experiencing quite a growth spurt, practically doubling its revenue in 2018 to $40.6 million.

Leaders at the La Jolla-based law firm say they would like to add 100 attorneys across all of its locations in the next 12 months.

The firm’s 140 attorneys plus support staff seem to have quite a bit of work. Much of Tyson & Mendes’ business is defending insurance firms in lawsuits. The stakes are high during an era of jury awards that some call “nuclear verdicts.”

The firm has built a reputation for winning at trial, said Robert Tyson, the firm’s managing partner.

“If you read the papers or look on the internet, you’re hearing about runaway jury verdicts all the time,” said Tyson, seated at a long conference table at his office, with several of his associates close by. “That’s what’s happening with the Monsanto verdicts, the Johnson & Johnson talc powder [verdict] last year. There was the first-ever single-plaintiff billion-dollar verdict … that was a terrible case out of Georgia …

“Juries are awarding significant sums and we’ve come up with a specific formula to make sure that there’s justice for all — that there’s justice for defendants just as well as there is justice for plaintiffs.”

Tyson said he is working on a book for defense attorneys about how to avoid runaway jury verdicts. He plans to finish the manuscript by the end of the year.

A Watershed Case

A case called Howell v. Hamilton Meats, argued in 2011 before the California Supreme Court, was a watershed moment for Tyson & Mendes. “That put us on the map,” said Tyson.

In the case, the court examined what sort of medical damages an injured plaintiff may collect — whether it is the amount the medical establishment puts on a bill, or the discounted amount that insurance companies typically pay out.

In the Howell case, the court concluded it was the latter.

That saves insurance companies in California some $10 billion a year in claims, Tyson said.

The 2011 case was the foundation for several other cases, the law firm said.

Tyson and his partner, Patrick Mendes, established their firm in a little space on La Jolla Boulevard in Bird Rock in 2002. At its beginning, the firm had a single client in the insurance industry. The partners did everything, Mendes said — down to signing proofs of service and licking envelopes.

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