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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Lawyer Referral and Information Service Attorney Helps Client Detained at Mall to Receive Six Figure Verdict


By Emmy Pasternak, LRIS Community Outreach and Case Development Coordinator


It is not an uncommon situation – you go to a store and find an item you like but it’s not in your size. The kind salesperson calls another branch and puts the item on hold for you. What is not part of the normal shopping process is to go to the store to pick up your item and, rather than get a bag with your merchandise and a friendly “come back soon” from the cashier, you are instead accused of shoplifting, berated by mall security, not allowed to use the restroom, and handcuffed to a bench for over two hours. This is what happened to a woman who contacted the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) in late 2011.

When she called LRIS, the woman was at the time represented by counsel and had been offered a meager settlement. She was frustrated that the defendants were not taking her claims seriously, and felt she had been “profiled” by mall security. The client was quickly referred to LRIS Personal Injury attorney John Vannucci. Within a matter of months the attorney turned a $15,000 settlement offer into a jury verdict in favor of the client at over $200,000 in damages.

With only a month to prepare for trial, Vannucci carefully worked with the client and the previous attorney to prepare a strong case to present in front of the jury. The defense was unwilling to settle for a reasonable amount before trial so the case moved forward and the client got to tell the jury her side of the story. Despite suffering physical and emotional injuries during her unlawful detain-ment the client is now doing very well.

According to Vannucci, “It sounds cliché, but this wasn’t about the money for her. She wanted the truth to get out.”

Membership in The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) and its LRIS program is financially, intellectually, and emotionally rewarding for Vannucci, who says, “LRIS is the one trustworthy lawyer referral source I know of. BASF is committed to providing San Francisco Bay Area lawyers with the resources they need and to providing the public with excellent, qualified legal representation. Lawyers have enough bad publicity from things like ‘tort reform’ and it’s essential to have a professional organization that looks out for the public and the legal profession in the proper way.”

For information on how to join the Lawyer Referral and Information Service, please visit

You may also contact LRIS Membership Coordinator, Yvonne Ng, at 415-782-9000 x8750 or for direct service. LRIS is a revenue generating program, the proceeds of which help to support BASF’s charitable programs.

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