Articles Posted in Damages

rifle-with-smoke-200x300Regardless of one’s personal beliefs about firearms, no one disputes the power and energy in a fired bullet. When a human is struck by a fired round, the consequences can be catastrophic. When someone injures another person by shooting them unlawfully, the criminal justice system can mete out appropriate punishment, but punishment alone does not make the victim whole. Moreover, where an individual is shot by accident, the criminal justice system many not engage judicial process at all.

Whether intentional or accidental, those suffering gunshot wounds may need to turn to a civil lawsuit in order to obtain compensation. However, questions remain about what legal theories are available and who can be held responsible?

If someone intentionally shoots another person, or if the shooter acts with reckless disregard for the safety of others when discharging a firearm, it can be a crime—except under certain circumstances, such as justified self-defense. A judge will typically order an individual convicted of unlawfully shooting pay restitution, together with the prescribed incarceration and fines. However, restitution may be limited to medical bills and other economic loss without taking pain and suffering into account. Under these circumstances, a civil lawsuit for the same shooting may be necessary to be fully compensated.

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.

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.On 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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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.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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