In the 1990s, the use of a neurovascular stent for a procedure call “stent-assisted coiling” was considered a breakthrough treatment for treating brain aneurysms. The medical device offered a non-surgical method to address weak spots in blood vessels in the brain. An aneurysm occurs when a weak point in a vessel allows blood to bulge out the vessel wall. If the aneurysm bursts, it can cause traumatic consequences, particularly when the aneurysm is located in the brain.
A non-stent assisted coiling treatment for an aneurysm involved running a stint from a patient’s leg up into the location of the aneurysm in the brain. The catheter would then inject a string of soft platinum into the aneurysm, which coils upon itself within the “bubble” of the aneurysm. After the platinum was fully deployed, the blood in the aneurysm clots along the coil and eventually fills the either aneurysm, such that is no longer poses the threat of rupture.
The procedure described above worked well, unless the aneurism had a “wide neck.” Where a normal aneurysm looks like a bubble stuck on the side of the vessel, a wide neck aneurysm looks more like a semi-circle. Instead of having a small weak spot in the vessel bulge out into a bubble, the wide neck variety involves a larger weak spot that expands the vessel in a distorted manner. Introducing the platinum coil into the aneurysm is not feasible, as the coil is too exposed to the blood flow and will not remain in place.
A man was injured while participating in a basic rider training class conducted by Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Inc. at Cerritos Community College. He brought a California motorcycle accident case, and the defendants moved for summary judgment, citing a waiver signed by the plaintiff. The trial court granted summary judgment. The California Court of Appeals for the Second District affirmed.The defendants asserted the waiver and release signed by the plaintiff barred all of his causes of action. Under the terms of the waiver, the plaintiff released the defendants from all injuries caused by their negligence or the negligence of others. The defendants met their initial burden of production, the appeals court held. Therefore, the burden shifted to the plaintiff to show a triable issue of material fact existed.
The plaintiff contended the gross negligence cause of action survived the waiver. However, the appeals court reasoned, the plaintiff’s only document in support was the unverified first amended complaint. A party cannot rely on its own pleadings as evidence to support or oppose a summary judgment motion. California Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (b)(1) requires the opposing party to demonstrate a triable issue of material fact by “affidavits, declarations, admissions, answers to interrogatories, depositions, and matters of which judicial notice shall or may be taken.” The appeals court concluded that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate a triable issue of material fact existed for gross negligence. The defendants were therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to that cause of action.
The plaintiff also contended that the waiver was unenforceable because it was against public policy. Civil Code section 1668 provides that all contracts that exempt anyone from responsibility for injuries to the person or property of another person are against the law. But many cases have found section 1668 does not apply to exemptions from liability for ordinary negligence if the incident does not involve the public interest.