Committed to Justice in Los Angeles and Beyond

A pedestrian sued a driver for negligence following a collision between them in which the pedestrian was injured. Before trial, the parties stipulated that the driver was negligent. Therefore, the only issue for the jury to decide was damages. The jury found that the driver’s negligence was a substantial factor in the harm suffered by the pedestrian and returned a verdict of $16,800. After costs and fees, the trial court entered a net judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $876.85.slingOn appeal, the plaintiff challenged an in limine ruling that excluded evidence. She sought a reversal of the exclusionary ruling and a retrial on the issue of emotional harm and damages. The California Court of Appeal for the Second District disagreed and affirmed.The plaintiff first argued on appeal that the trial court erred by excluding evidence of the defendant’s failure to stop, render aid, and identify herself in violation of sections 20001 and 20003 of the Vehicle Code. Disagreeing, the appeals court first explained that the statutory requirement that drivers of cars involved in crashes resulting in injuries or death must stop and render aid was enacted to protect people injured in an accident and was designed to prohibit drivers from leaving people in distress and danger. These acts are required by all drivers of vehicles involved in accidents causing injuries or death, whether or not they are responsible.

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A February lawsuit filed in San Luis Obispo (“SLO”) Superior Court claims that a member of a California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) fraternity chased the plaintiff into a glass panel in the fraternity house. The negligence lawsuit against the fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho, seeks damages exceeding $25,000. This is one of many controversies in which the fraternity has been involved in recent years.

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The plaintiff was a visitor at the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house in 2015. When she tried to leave, an unnamed fraternity brother began to chase her to prevent her from exiting the house. She mistook the floor-to-ceiling glass pane for a door and ran through it, causing “severe” but unspecified injuries. Since she was being chased, she alleges, she was forced to make a split-second decision, which contributed to the accident.

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A woman and her four children sued two doctors and a medical group, alleging a cause of action for the wrongful death of the woman’s husband from medical malpractice during surgery. The doctors and their medical group filed a joint motion for summary judgment, with the doctors invoking the “Good Samaritan Law” (see Bus. & Prof., § 2396) and their group arguing that, absent liability on the doctors’ part, it could have no vicarious liability as their principal. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion. The family appealed, and California’s Second District Court of Appeal affirmed.

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On May 15, 2012, the husband underwent scheduled, elective shoulder surgery at a hospital in East Los Angeles. A doctor performed the surgery. At the same time that a doctor was performing his shoulder surgery, two other doctor was performing heart surgery in an adjacent operating room.

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A Southern California man recently filed a lawsuit for negligence and assault against a Las Vegas hotel, claiming a mannequin inside his hotel room frightened him and caused him to suffer injuries while fleeing.

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The plaintiff filed the lawsuit against Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Clark County District Court. He is seeking over $10,000 in damages.

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A plaintiff appealed from the trial court’s entry of judgment on a jury’s defense verdict in his personal injury lawsuit against Asplundh Tree Expert Company. On appeal, he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict and contended misconduct by Asplundh’s trial attorney also required reversal of the judgment. The appeals court affirmed the judgment.

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In May 2010, the plaintiff and his brother, Peter, decided to trim the cypress trees under a power line in the backyard of the Villa Park home owned by Peter’s in-laws . The power line was about 26 feet off the ground. The brothers used a metal ladder propped against a metal fence, which was about 18 feet high, around a tennis court in the backyard. It was not clear from the plaintiff’s brief whether the homeowners viewed the trees’ proximity to the power lines as a reason to cut them; instead, the record suggested the homeowners’ primary interests included reducing the “sagging” of the trees, presumably from their height or volume, and leveling the tops of the trees into a straight line. The homeowners had not asked Peter to trim the trees, and they were out of town when the brothers embarked on the task as a favor. They managed to safely trim all of the trees to a distance of five or six feet from the power line.

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In September 2015, actress Tori Spelling filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Benihana for injuries she suffered after falling onto a hibachi grill. Finally, a trial date has been set. The last status conference is scheduled for June 27; the trial date for July 10.

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On April 5, 2015, Spelling and her family celebrated Easter Sunday with a trip to their local Benihana in Encino, California. According to an eyewitness at the time of the accident, Spelling, her husband, and her children were enjoying brunch when Spelling tripped and fell onto a hot Japanese style grill used to prepare food in front of the customers. “She got up to leave and tripped, falling backwards on to a scorching hot grill,” the source stated. “She shouted out in pain from a large burn on the back of her right arm.”

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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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