Committed to Justice in Los Angeles and Beyond
Justia Lawyer Rating

road-man-broken-car-6078-300x200Buying a car is typically a stressful, yet exciting experience for most people. That sense of excitement can quickly turn to frustration when the vehicle purchased begins having mechanical trouble. Frustration can devolve into anger when the dealer repeatedly makes ineffective repairs, sometimes delaying action or denying responsibility all together.

Each state and the federal government have enacted “lemon laws” to provide redress where a purchaser is saddled with a vehicle that doesn’t meet quality and performance standards. Unfortunately, not all situations are covered by a lemon law; moreover, every state’s, as well as the federal, version of the law is different.

Generally, lemon laws protect purchasers of new motor vehicles from defects or conditions that substantially impair the value of the vehicle and where the manufacturer has failed to resolve the problem after been given a reasonable opportunity to perform repairs. However, various jurisdictions define “new motor vehicles,” “substantial impairment,” and “reasonable opportunity to repair” in a number of ways. There are also a number of variations in the scope and breadth of relief available.

Vaping-Cloud-300x225In December of 2018, Altria, manufacturer of Marlboro products and one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, made a risky play and took a 35% interest in the vaping company Juul Labs at a cost of $12.8 billion. Over its three years of existence, Juul had climbed its way to become the dominant e-cigarette company, claiming 75% of the quickly emerging market.

On October 31, 2019, Altria cut the book value of its investment by $4.5 billion amid growing concerns about the safety of vaping. Governmental agencies have initiated investigations into several areas, including rampant use of vaping products by teenagers, concerns about health risks unique to vaping, and a string of deaths that some are attributing to vaping products. Juul has also found itself defending against several lawsuits, which are likely the opening salvo in a barrage of similar suits.

One lawsuit is a claim of whistleblower retaliation. Siddharth Breja, Juul’s former vice president of global finance, alleged the company had shipped over one million contaminated mint e-liquid pods to retailers. Breja alleges executive management refused to issue a recall despite his urging.

school bus

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/
Jean Faucett

Many California car accidents are primarily caused by the negligence of one motorist. However, it is very common in accidents involving multiple defendants, for responsibility to rest with several parties. Under California car accident law, anyone injured in an accident can pursue a claim against any other party they believe to be responsible for their injuries, even if the accident victim is partially at fault. This is referred to as comparative negligence.

States across the country vary in how they determine which accident victims can recover for their injuries. Below are the most common types of laws:

motorcycle

Photo credit: Alexander Kirch / Shutterstock.com

A California personal injury case is about more than proving that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. A plaintiff must also prove that they are entitled to financial compensation for the injuries they sustained. Some types of damages are easy to calculate because they have already been incurred, such as past medical expenses. However, future damages are harder to estimate.

Future damages are those that are designed to compensate a plaintiff for expenses or losses that will result from the defendant’s negligence but have not yet been incurred. Typically, these types of damages include future medical expenses, future lost wages, and future pain and suffering. Not only can the future value of these damages be difficult to ascertain, there can also be an issue when attempting to determining the present value of a damages award.

truck

Photo credit: oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

A California appellate court recently decided a case where the plaintiffs requested a negligence per se instruction after a driver crashed into the defendant who had stopped to the side of the highway. The semi-truck was parked in a zone between the highway and the exit ramp, known as the gore point, when the driver drove his car into the back of a truck. The driver and his wife sued the truck driver and his employer.

At trial, the court instructed the jury that it could find the defendant negligent per se for parking in the gore point under section 21718 of California’s Vehicle Code. It also instructed the jury that it could find the plaintiff negligent per se for driving into the gore point under section 21651 of the Vehicle Code. However, the court declined to instruct the jury, as the plaintiffs requested, that the defendant could be found negligent per se for driving into the gore point to park his vehicle under section 21651. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury decided that the defendant was not negligent for parking in the gore point, and the court entered judgment for the defendant.

water cooler

Photo Credit: Dale Stagg / Shutterstock.com

A California appeals court recently dismissed a personal injury case against several defendants after an independent contractor was injured at a work site. The plaintiff was working as an independent contractor that was providing maintenance engineering staff for a company that was undergoing a renovation of a water cooling tower on its premises. While on his shift, the plaintiff checked on the water level of a cooling tower by looking over the water cooling tower wall. He used a partial extension ladder which was left leaning against the tower by a subcontractor. The ladder slipped, causing the plaintiff to fall and sustain serious injuries. The plaintiff sued the landowner, the main contractor for the project, and other defendants, alleging they were liable for his injuries due to the unsafe conditions. The defendants claimed they were immune from suit because the worker was an employee of an independent contractor.

In a previous case, Privette v. Superior Court, California’s Supreme Court held that if an employee of an independent contractor hired to do dangerous work suffers an injury at work, the employee cannot recover compensation from the party that retained the independent contractor. However, there are certain exceptions to the general rule. One is if the party that hired the contractor retains control over safety conditions on the premises, negligently maintains those conditions, and affirmatively contributes to the employee’s injuries. Another exception is if the party that hired the independent contractor 1.) knew of a “latent or concealed preexisting hazardous condition” on the property, 2.) the contractor did not know of the condition and could not have reasonably discovered it, and 3.) the landowner did not warn the contractor about the hazardous condition.

slip/fall

Photocredit: 9nong/Shutterstock.com

In a recent personal injury case before a California appeals court, the court considered whether the firefighter’s rule applied in a case involving the plaintiff’s fall at an architectural residence. The plaintiff was hired as a site representative for the defendant’s residence. A third party rented out the residence for an event. The plaintiff was giving a tour of the residence when he fell from a platform that was suspended over a hillside. He filed claims against the defendant property owner for negligence and premises liability. At trial, the property owner argued that he was protected under the “firefighter’s rule.” The court decided that the rule applied and instructed the jury accordingly, which found in the property owner’s favor. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the firefighter’s rule did not apply in this case.

The doctrine of primary assumption of risk holds that, due to the nature of the activity involved and the parties’ relationship to the activity, the defendant does not owe the plaintiff a duty of care, thereby barring the plaintiff’s claims. The firefighter’s rule is a variation of the primary assumption of risk doctrine. The firefighter’s rule holds that a firefighter cannot hold liable members of the public who negligently started a fire. The rule also applies to police officers. The idea is that members of these professions knowingly undertake certain risks. The rule is applied to cases where the risk of injury is inherent in the plaintiff’s occupation, and the plaintiff is injured as a result of that inherent risk.

jury box

Photo credit: Shutterstock/ggw

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California car accident case discussing whether the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial based on juror misconduct when a juror failed to disclose that he had been named in two prior lawsuits as a defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was no misconduct, dismissing the plaintiff’s appeal.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant conceded liability, but disputed the causation, nature, and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, the trial proceeded only on the issue of damages.

surgery

Photo credit: Nestor Rizhniak / Shutterstock.com

In a recent California medical malpractice case, the California Court of Appeals dismissed a case after the plaintiff failed to comply with the requirements for notifying a public entity of a claim. The plaintiff claimed that a surgeon negligently performed a surgery to remove her gallbladder at a California hospital, and that she was permanently injured as a result. Evidently, the surgery was performed on February 17, 2017, and on January 31, 2018, she served the hospital with a notice of intent to file a medical malpractice claim. The hospital claimed the notice was filed late, and rejected the claim. On April 6, 2018, the plaintiff submitted an application for leave to present a late claim to the hospital, and on April 24, 2018, the plaintiff filed the medical malpractice claim in court.

Under Section 945.4 of the California Government Code, to pursue a claim against a public entity, a written claim must first be made with the entity. Under Section 911.2, in the case of a personal injury claim, the claim must be made within six months of the accrual of the cause of action. If the claim is not made within six months, the claimant can make a written application to the public entity for leave to present the claim, which must be made “within a reasonable time not to exceed one year” of the accrual of the cause of action. If the application for leave is denied by the public entity, the claimant can petition the court to hear the case.

California College

Photo Credit: Ganna Tokolova / Shutterstock.com

In a recent case before a California court of appeals, the plaintiff argued that a national fraternity was liable for injuries she suffered at a frat party. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured when she fell off a makeshift dance platform at the party. The party was hosted by a local chapter of the national fraternity. She filed suit against the national fraternity for negligence, and a trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the fraternity. The issue before the court of appeals was whether the national fraternity had a duty to protect the plaintiff.

In a claim for negligence, a plaintiff must prove duty, breach, causation, and damages. Everyone normally has a general duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring others. However, there is no duty to protect others from the conduct of third parties, although there are exceptions to that rule.

Contact Information