Articles Posted in Negligence

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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:

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A motion for summary judgment is granted when the judge believes that there are no issues of material fact between the parties and one of the parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In other words, summary judgment motions are granted when even if the facts are looked at in the light most favorable to the other party, it is still clear that one party should prevail. In this case, summary judgment was granted to the yoga studio because the plaintiff did not meet her burden of showing that there was actual a triable issue here. The laws around personal injury can be complicated, which is why it is important to contact a knowledgeable California personal injury attorney if you are injured. They can help you to understand whether you have a case or not.

Facts of the Case

One of the benefits of living in California is that many parts of the state have great weather. Due to the pleasant conditions, lots of restaurants have outdoor patio seating for patrons to enjoy their meals under the sun. However, sometimes disaster strikes. In this case, a woman was eating lunch on the patio of a restaurant when she was bit by a spider, which was later discovered to be a black widow spider. After being hospitalized with weakness and numbness due to the injuries, the woman who was bitten sued the restaurant where the bite occurred for damages. If you have been hurt in any way while on the premises of another individual or a business, they may be liable for your injuries. That’s why it is so important to contact a skilled Southern California premises liability attorney as soon as possible if you are injured, even if at first it may not seem to be the fault of the establishment.

Negligence

The main legal concept in this case is negligence. In order to prevail on a negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the negligent party had a duty to them that it breached. Generally, businesses and individuals have a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances. What is and is not reasonable is usually a question for the jury. The jury looks at all the facts of the case and then decides whether the defendant’s behavior was reasonable or not. There are some areas where the law has specifically carved out exceptions, but generally the concepts of negligence law will apply.

A teenage driver was intoxicated when he was involved in a hit and run accident with a woman and her daughter. The woman’s husband was driving nearby and witnessed the collision. The family filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and his employer, Sergio’s El Ranchito (a restaurant). The court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District affirmed the judgment in this California car accident case.On appeal, the family did not challenge the court’s legal analysis of the issues. Instead, they maintained that the court should reverse the judgment because the ruling was based on procedural defects. Namely, the restaurant’s moving papers did not specifically address the negligent supervision allegations and therefore did not properly shift the burden of proof to the family. Additionally, they contended the restaurant’s efforts to address negligent supervision for the first time in its reply brief were improper, and the trial court should not have considered this argument when deciding the motion for summary judgment. The appeals court concluded that neither contention had merit.

The complaint alleged the restaurant negligently supervised its underage employees because the driver either had access to, or was directly provided, alcoholic beverages on the premises. Thus, the family’s theory for recovery was that the restaurant should have known their unsupervised underage employees were going to drink while at work, and therefore it was foreseeable they would drive while intoxicated and injure a third party. To prove this claim, the family needed proof the restaurant was aware the underage employees had access to, or were provided, alcohol during work hours, and it failed to adequately supervise these underage employees by locking up the alcohol.

The appeals court concluded that the restaurant’s moving papers adequately addressed the negligent supervision allegation raised in the complaint. The restaurant satisfied its initial burden by showing the family’s discovery responses were inadequate to prove negligent supervision. Although the restaurant did not use the words “negligent supervision” in the moving papers, it did discuss the total lack of evidence supporting all allegations in the complaint. It argued there was no evidence suggesting liability under any direct theory of liability or vicarious liability. The separate statement of undisputed facts noted there was no evidence the driver became intoxicated while at work or after his shift. In addition, the separate statement explained why there was nothing to support the allegation the driver was coming from work when he was driving while intoxicated. The restaurant affirmatively established it had policies and procedures in place to prevent employees from consuming alcohol while at work. Absent evidence to the contrary, it could be inferred the restaurant did not know or expect the driver or other employees were violating the terms of their employment.

A plaintiff sued Wal-Mart for injuries she sustained at one of Wal-Mart’s stores while acting within the course and scope of her employment with Acosta, Inc. The trial court found Wal-Mart liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Under California Labor Code sections 3852 and 3856, appellant Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company (Hartford) applied for a lien on the plaintiff’s judgment to obtain reimbursement for the California workers’ compensation benefits it paid her. Although the judgment included compensation for her medical expenses, it did not include compensation for her lost wages. The court granted Hartford a lien on the judgment but reduced the lien amount.In August 2012, the plaintiff was working for Acosta when she fell and injured herself on Wal-Mart’s premises. Hartford was Acosta’s workers’ compensation insurer and paid the victim more than $152,000 in benefits, including more than $115,000 in medical expenses and roughly $37,000 in temporary disability indemnity for her lost wages.

In July 2014, following a three-day bench trial, the court found Wal-Mart 100 percent at fault and entered judgment against Wal-Mart for $355,000, including $178,000 in past medical expenses, $102,000 in future medical expenses, and $75,000 in past and future pain and suffering. Although the complaint sought lost wages and earning capacity, the court did not award her damages for these items because she did not ask for them at trial.

Hartford filed a notice and application for a lien on the judgment, based on the workers’ compensation benefits it paid to the victim. The trial court issued an order to show cause why it should not grant the requested lien. The plaintiff filed an opposition, arguing the court should reduce the lien amount by the nearly $37,000 Hartford sought for the temporary disability benefits it paid because she did not present evidence regarding those payments at trial, and therefore the court did not award her that amount as damages.

A plaintiff was hit by a car as he crossed a street between defendant Grace Family Church and the church’s parking lot. He sued the church for negligence, alleging that the church was negligent in breaching its duty of care to help him safely cross the street. The trial court granted the church’s motion for summary judgment. The Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision in this California premises liability case, and last month, the California Supreme Court reversed the appeals court’s decision and remanded the case.In his initial lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the church owed him a duty of care to help him cross the street. The church responded that it had no control over the public street and thus did not owe a duty to prevent the plaintiff’s injury, contending that landowners have no duty to protect others from dangers on adjacent streets unless the owner created the danger.

Before the state supreme court, the parties stipulated that the church did not control the street and did not create the dangers on the street. But the church, the plaintiff argued, by directing the plaintiff to park there, foreseeably increased the likelihood that the plaintiff would cross the street and become injured. Thus, the circumstances differed from those in which a landowner simply owns property next to a public street.

California Civil Code section 1714(a) establishes the general duty that each person must exercise reasonable care for the safety of others. The California Supreme Court has held that courts should create an exception to this rule only when supported by public policy.

The sole proprietor of a property management company, independent contractor plaintiff, was assaulted by two young men while on the premises of an apartment building he managed for the owner, defendant Kavian LLC. He sued the defendant and its two co-managing members (Mr. H.) for negligence and breach of contract. This blog post will focus solely on the negligence issue.At trial, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent in urging plaintiff to return to the property after an earlier disturbance and failing to provide a safe working environment. The trial court sustained demurrers by Mr. H., and granted defendant Kavian LLC’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed the latter ruling, and the Second District Court of Appeals affirmed.

On appeal, the plaintiff’s first argument was that he was never the employee of an independent contractor, and therefore was not barred from relief under Privette v. Superior Court (1993). The appeals court held that he was incorrect.

The Privette court held that “the hirer of an independent contractor is not vicariously liable to the contractor’s employee who sustains on-the-job injuries resulting from a special or peculiar risk inherent in the work.” The court had also previously held in Tverberg v. Fillner Construction Co. (2010), that unlike a standard employee, an independent contractor has the power to determine the manner in which inherently dangerous construction work is to be performed, and thus assumes legal responsibility for carrying out the contracted work. Having assumed responsibility for workplace safety, an independent contractor may not hold a hiring party vicariously liable for injuries that resulted from the contractor’s own failure to effectively guard against risks inherent in the contracted work.

The plaintiff sued defendant Target for injuries due to the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff claimed she was cut by a plastic price tag holder that was sticking out into the aisle. The jury returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor, finding there was no dangerous condition. Finding that the appellate record and the plaintiff’s briefs were inadequate for appellate review, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed in this California premises liability case.At trial, the plaintiff’s husband testified that he and his wife were shopping at the Burbank Target in September 2010. As the plaintiff was pushing her cart through the shoe department, she cut her pinky finger on a price tag sign that was extending horizontally into the aisle. The plaintiff attempted to complete an incident report but was told by the defendant’s staff that there were no blank forms for her to complete. Her husband later called the store to report the incident and left a message, but his call was never returned.

The defendant’s employees testified that a guest would not be denied a guest incident report and that a report would have been completed by the defendant’s staff if an incident was reported and the guest did not wish to complete a form. There was no report completed by anyone for the alleged incident. They also testified to their procedures of sweeping for hazards in the store and stated that it was impossible for a price tag sign to extend horizontally into an aisle.

The defendant also produced a mechanical engineering expert, who testified that it was impossible for plastic signs to extend horizontally into the aisle and that they were not sharp enough to cause a laceration. A medical expert also testified that the plaintiff’s injuries were not consistent with her claims in this case.

On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas strip. The gunman fired hundreds of rifle rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The shooting left 58 people dead and 546 injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States. A California college student who was injured at the shooting recently filed suit against the concert promoter, the Mandalay Bay hotel owners, and the bump stock manufacturers. The case may have some relevance to certain California premises liability cases that may arise in these tragic situations.The lawsuit claims that MGM Resorts International, which owns both the hotel and the concert venue, failed to respond in a timely manner to the shooting of a hotel security officer who had gone to the 32nd floor to check on an alert from another guest room and who was shot six minutes before the massacre began. The lawsuit also questions why hotel staff failed to notice the gunman’s behavior prior to the mass shooting.

Specifically, the plaintiff claims that MGM Resorts and concert promoter Live Nation breached their duty of reasonable care and knew or should have known that it was reasonably foreseeable that a breach of their duty to keep the concert venue safe could result in serious or fatal injuries to concert attendees. Specifically, the gunman brought in 10 suitcases of weapons and over 500 rounds, and he barricaded himself in his room without any staff noticing.

The victim was shot in the arm by one of the gunman’s bullets and was thereafter rendered physically incapacitated, resulting in her being trampled by fleeing concertgoers. She was ultimately rescued by a kind stranger and transported to the hospital.

Two people recently filed a California premises liability claim based on an alleged beating in the Dodger Stadium parking lot following a 2015 playoff game. The victim claims to have suffered a traumatic brain injury from the attack. The plaintiffs filed suit in L.A. Superior Court against the Dodgers and the two alleged attackers. The lawsuit claims negligence, negligent hiring, premises liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, assault, and loss of consortium. The victim’s wife claims she has lost the companionship and love of her husband since he was injured.According to court documents, the victim attended the first game of the National League Division Series on October 9, 2015 against the Mets. He is a Dodgers fan, but his cousin, also in attendance, is a Mets fan who wore a Mets hat.

The Mets won the game. The victim and his friends left the stadium at around 10 p.m. Outside, they were confronted by the assailants, who shouted vulgarities at the group. By the time the group reached the handicapped parking area, the assailants began to “brutally attack” him. One of them allegedly struck the victim in the head. Losing consciousness, he fell to the pavement. The assailants nonetheless began to kick the victim while he lay unconscious on the ground.

Despite that thousands of people were filing out of Dodger Stadium at the time of the attack, the lawsuit claims no security was present. Moreover, it took several minutes for the security to respond to the scene where the victim was attacked, even though it was very close to the stadium gates. The lawsuit alleges the Dodgers negligently failed to provide adequate lighting and security that could have prevented the attack.

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