Articles Posted in Negligence

A woman and her daughter were in two automobile accidents. One defendant rear-ended them in the first. In the second, another defendant broadsided them while they were driving together two months later. The plaintiffs sued both defendants, and by the time of trial, both defendants had admitted the accidents were their fault; the defendants, however, disputed the accidents caused the full range of injuries the plaintiffs claimed to have suffered.

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The trial court barred the plaintiffs’ neuropsychologist expert witness from opining the traumatic brain injury allegedly suffered by the mother was caused by the accidents because the plaintiffs did not give adequate notice the expert would offer such an opinion and because the expert was in any event incompetent to offer such an opinion. Concluding there was no other substantial evidence that either accident was the cause of her asserted traumatic brain injury and lower back injury, the court later granted the defendants’ motions seeking nonsuit as to those injuries. The appeals court was asked to decide whether the trial court abused its discretion in excluding the plaintiffs’ expert testimony, and whether the trial court properly granted the defendants’ nonsuit motions. For the following reasons, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

The appeals court first held that the plaintiffs’ failure to designate the expert to testify on causation was a sufficient ground to exclude his testimony on that topic. The plaintiffs contended the “plain language” of their expert witness declaration gave sufficient notice that he would testify as to the cause of the victim’s alleged traumatic brain injury. Specifically, the plaintiffs quoted language from their expert witness declaration stating that the expert “will express opinions concerning the nature and extent of [the victim’s] injuries sustained in the subject accidents.” That language, the appeals court held, did not suffice to comply with the requirements of the Code of Civil Procedure’s expert disclosure statutes. The terms “nature” and “extent” refer to the type of an injury or its characteristics, as well as perhaps its severity. That, the court explained, is distinct from the concept of causation.

Following the drowning death of his five-year-old son in a swimming pool owned by other homeowners, a father brought suit against the homeowners for general negligence and premises liability. Finding that the homeowners owed no duty of care and that there was no evidence a dangerous condition on their property contributed to the tragedy, the trial court granted summary judgment. On appeal, the father contended that he raised issues of fact as to the defendants’ duty of care and the dangerousness of the conditions in and around the pool. The California Court of Appeal for the Second District disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s decision.

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In their statement of undisputed facts, the defendants established that on June 1, 2014, they hosted a gathering at their home. The boy came with his mother. Neither knew how to swim. When they first arrived, one of the homeowners watched the boy in the “kiddie” or wading area, separated from the main pool by a low rock wall, eight to nine inches above the main pool water level. When the boy’s grandfather, a Captain for the Los Angeles City Fire Department, arrived, he told the homeowner he would take over supervising the boy. The grandfather allowed the boy to play in the shallow end of the main pool. At some point, he lost sight of the boy. He heard a girl scream “‘Where is the little boy?’” He stood up and saw the boy underneath the water. He jumped in and pulled the boy out. Efforts by the grandfather and others to resuscitate the boy were unsuccessful.

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A tree branch fell on a woman while she and her boyfriend were walking through Mission Bay Park. She filed suit against the City of San Diego, alleging the existence of a dangerous condition on public property, namely a negligently maintained eucalyptus tree. The city prevailed on summary judgment, arguing that the woman was struck by the tree branch while standing on a trail; thus, the city could not be liable, pursuant to Government Code section 831.4 (trail immunity).tree branch The woman appealed. First, she asserted that trail immunity does not apply under the facts of this case. To this end, she emphasized that her claim of a dangerous condition was based on a negligently maintained eucalyptus tree, rather than the condition of the trail passing through the park. Second, she contended that even if trail immunity did apply, a disputed issue of material fact existed as to where she was located when the branch struck her. The Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed. The woman’s claim in this case did not give rise to trail immunity. In addition, there was a disputed issue of material fact as to where she was when the branch struck her. Thus, the appeals court reversed.

The appeals court therefore first outlined the applicable law. The complaint alleged a single cause of action for a dangerous condition of public property. Pursuant to section 830(a), a dangerous condition of public property means a condition of property that creates a substantial (as distinguished from a minor, trivial, or insignificant) risk of injury when such property or adjacent property is used with due care in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be used. The elements for that cause of action are: (1) a dangerous condition of public property; (2) a foreseeable risk, arising from the dangerous condition, of the kind of injury the plaintiff suffered; (3) actionable conduct in connection with the condition, i.e., either negligence on the part of a public employee in creating it or a failure by the entity to correct it after notice of its existence and dangerousness; (4) a causal relationship between the dangerous condition and the plaintiff’s injuries; and (5) compensable damages sustained by the plaintiff.

The woman argued the city managed and maintained both Mission Bay Park and the trees within it, including the eucalyptus tree whose branch fell on her. She claimed that between 2004 and 2013, a city employee actively and negligently trimmed the tree’s branches, removing low-hanging and hazardous branches. According to her, the city created and was aware of a dangerous condition on public property, namely the negligently maintained branches of the eucalyptus tree. As a result, she alleged the city was liable for the harm caused by the falling branch.

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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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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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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