Committed to Justice in Los Angeles and Beyond

A 12-year-old severely injured by a 75-foot tree that fell on his tent while he was camping sued PG&E, which owned and maintained a power line in the San Mateo County Memorial Park. The trial court denied the company’s motion for summary judgment under the state’s recreational use immunity statute, codified by California Civil Code section 846. Section 846 grants property owners immunity from tort liability stemming from the use of their property for recreational purposes. The First District Court of Appeal held the company was not immune from suit because the camper paid a fee to San Mateo County.

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The tree was located approximately 30 to 40 feet from PG&E’s power line, within striking distance of the line had it fallen in that direction. PG&E owned and maintained a power line in the county park, and it had a license allowing it to enter the park for the maintenance and inspection of its equipment. The boy’s family paid a fee to enter the park but did not pay PG&E. However, San Mateo County paid PG&E regularly for electricity.

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A California appellate court recently reversed a trial court’s order granting summary judgment to a defendant employer in a workplace negligence action. The Fourth District Court of Appeals reasoned that it could not state as a matter of law that the employee was not on a business errand while commuting from his home to the employer’s yard.

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In October 2010, the employer employed the worker as a cement/mason finisher. His job duties entailed setting forms, placing concrete, and smoothing it out once it set. He received an hourly wage for an eight-hour shift, which began and ended at the job site where he performed his work. The employer had a contract to install a new center median at a job site on the 710 freeway.

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In October 2013, a victim’s car collided with an off-duty ambulance. The victim suffered a traumatic brain injury, along with other injuries. The victim’s infant daughter brought suit for loss of parental consortium against a number of defendants. The defendants demurred to her claim on the ground that a loss of consortium claim may not be maintained by a minor for injuries to a parent, pursuant to California precedent. The trial court sustained the demurrers without leave to amend and dismissed the complaint. The child appealed. Reasoning that it was bound by the principles of stare decisis, the California Appeals Court for the Second Appellate District affirmed the lower court’s decision.

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The appeal concerned a single question:  whether California should reconsider a long-standing precedent established by the California Supreme Court in 1977 in Borer v. American Airlines. In Borer, the state high court declined to recognize a child’s cause of action for the loss of parental consortium. Then, a mother was injured by a falling light fixture in an airline terminal. Her children brought suit against American Airlines for the loss of her services, affection, guidance, and companionship. The lower court sustained the airline’s demurrer to the complaint, and the appeals court affirmed.

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A patient sued a dentist for dental malpractice, alleging that his negligence in performing a dental implant procedure permanently damaged a nerve in her jaw. He moved for summary judgment based on the one-year limitations period that Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5 establishes for all professional negligence claims against health care providers. The trial court granted the motion and entered judgment against the patient. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed.

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Section 340.5’s one-year limitations period starts when the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered both her injury and that someone’s wrongdoing likely caused it. The patient testified she felt an electric shock as the dentist drilled the socket for her implant, and she immediately thought he had done something wrong. On the next day, she returned to his office to complain about the pain.

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https://www.californiainjurylawyerblog.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/240/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-27-at-8.19.55-PM.pngAn unidentified Southern California woman is suing a hotel because an employee allegedly gave a stranger a key to her room, resulting in her sexual assault.

According to court documents, the incident occurred in April 2014 when the woman was staying in a Holiday Inn in Frazier Park in Kern County. She was there to visit her boyfriend for the weekend. According to the lawsuit, a hotel employee gave the victim’s room key to a man, J.P.

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A California man injured by plummeting metal laptop-sized boxes in a Home Depot is seeking roughly $50 million in damages in a recent lawsuit. 54-year-old J.B. argued the accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury with persisting symptoms. The case is currently being tried before a judge in Kern County Superior Court.

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J.B., who at the time was managing a cement company, entered the store to buy supplies in 2013. A Home Depot employee on a ladder accidentally dropped two metal boxes from a shelf, and they crashed onto J.B.’s head from a height of approximately eight feet.

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A federal judge recently dismissed claims by a former vice principal that the police violated his rights when they arrested him for having a gun at school, despite his having a permit for concealed carry.

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Filing suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, the former vice principal argued that two officers and the city of Bakersfield were liable for false arrest, negligence, and Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure violation because they lacked probable cause. A U.S. District Judge disagreed and granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding the officer acted reasonably under the circumstances.

The plaintiff was the vice principal at a junior high school for roughly five years, and he had been in the Bakersfield school system for nearly 30 years. At the time of the arrest, the California Gun Free Zone Act prohibited the possession of unauthorized firearms within 1,000 feet of school grounds without the permission of school authorities. However, the Act had an exception for law enforcement and those with concealed carry licenses.

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A plaintiff brought a personal injury action against the owners of an Oakland, California property after he was allegedly injured by a live bullet that a party guest threw into a bonfire. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants, and the plaintiff appealed, arguing the trial court erred as a matter of law in concluding the defendants owed him no legal duty to prevent that incident. The appeals court affirmed the judgment.

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The plaintiff filed suit in August 2013 against Madison Park Financial Corp. and two individuals. His complaint alleged general negligence and premises liability; specifically, he claimed that on June 29, 2012, the defendants failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent their party guests from throwing a live bullet into a bonfire, which exploded and injured him. The defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground they owed no duty to prevent that incident as a matter of law. The trial court granted the motion. The plaintiff subsequently amended the negligence cause of action to name as an additional defendant the individual who allegedly threw the bullet, who was not a party to the appeal.

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Ski season has seen a deluge of federal lawsuits seeking large sums in damages. For example, a California resident recently filed suit for negligence against a snowboarder who hit her from behind at Colorado’s Vail Ski Resort in a collision that resulted in severe injuries. The victim suffered rib and clavicle fractures.

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She sued the defendant in U.S. District Court in Denver for the January 17th collision. She seeks economic and non-economic damages, as well as attorney fees, amounting to over $75,000. Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, federal courts can hear cases between citizens of different states only when the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000. (28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)).

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Celebrity dentist Sherri L. Worth has been temporarily prohibited from practicing dentistry in California. The state dental board suspended Worth’s license this month, based on allegations that she put her patients in danger. On February 2, Worth’s attorney and Deputy Attorney General Shannon Brubaker signed a Stipulated Interim Suspension of License to “save time and expense.” Through this, Worth has waived the right to a hearing and is prohibited from practicing dentistry until the suspension is terminated.

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According to the Dental Board complaint, seven patients alleged that Worth committed incompetence, numerous acts of negligence and gross negligence, fraud, excessive treatment, and over-diagnosis. Examples include billing over $11,000 for two patients’ laser surgeries that were never performed, falsifying dental records, performing expensive restorations to already healthy teeth, and Photoshopping a digital x-ray to cover up two defective crowns. Worth’s actions, the board claims, demonstrated “a gross lack of clinical skill and diagnostic ability” and rendered her an immediate danger to patients.

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