Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in California Court of Appeal
Sanchez v. Kern Emergency Medical Transportation Corp.
Plaintiff was injured during a high school football game and was provided ambulance services by defendant. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the standby ambulance crew was grossly negligent in not properly assessing his condition and immediately transporting him to the hospital in the standby ambulance. The trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. The court denied judicial notice of a court record by defendant because it was not relevant or necessary to the resolution of the appeal; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sustaining defendant's objections to the challenged portions of an expert's declaration; plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he raised a triable issue of material fact on the issue of causation and the court found no reversible error; and the court denied defendant's motion for sanctions, finding that the appeal was not so obviously lacking in merit that any reasonable attorney would agree it was totally and completely without merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Sanchez v. Kern Emergency Medical Transportation Corp." on Justia Law
Hensley v. San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
After the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of plaintiffs-appellants William and Linda Hensley from a nonappealable stipulated judgment pursuant to a settlement agreement, the Hensleys and defendant-respondent San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) entered into an amended stipulated judgment that they asserted constituted a final disposition of all of their claims. They contended the amended stipulated judgment was final and appealable in that it was entered to facilitate an appeal following the trial court's adverse in limine determination of a critical issue: the Hensleys' legal ability to recover damages for William's emotional distress on trespass and nuisance causes of action arising from a wild fire that damaged their house and property. The Court of Appeal concluded the amended stipulated judgment was final and appealable and, with respect to the trespass and nuisance claims only, was not advisory. On the merits, the Court held the Hensleys were legally entitled to present evidence of William's emotional distress on their claims for trespass and nuisance as annoyance and discomfort damages recoverable for such torts. Because the trial court excluded evidence of emotional distress damages in their entirety, the Court reversed. View "Hensley v. San Diego Gas & Electric Co." on Justia Law
Leyva v. Crockett & Co.
In 2013, a golf ball struck Miguel Leyva in the eye while he and his wife, Socorro Leyva, walked along a public path adjacent to the Bonita Golf Club. The Leyvas appealed summary judgment entered in favor of Crockett and Company, Inc., the owner and operator of the Club. The Leyvas contended Crockett was not entitled to summary judgment because the immunities designated in Government Code section 831.41 and Civil Code section 846 did not apply to their tort claims. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded section 831.4 barred their action, therefore affirming the trial court’s judgment. View "Leyva v. Crockett & Co." on Justia Law
Bigler-Engler v. Breg, Inc.
This matter arose from Whitney Engler's use of a medical device, the "Polar Care 500," manufactured by Breg, Inc. (Breg) and prescribed by David Chao, M.D. Engler suffered injuries as a result of her use of the Polar Care 500, and she brought various tort claims against Chao, his medical group Oasis MSO, Inc. (Oasis), and Breg, among others. At trial, the jury considered Engler's claims for medical malpractice, design defect (under theories of negligence and strict liability), failure to warn (also under theories of negligence and strict liability), breach of fiduciary duty, intentional misrepresentation, and intentional concealment. With a few exceptions, the jury generally found in favor of Engler, and against the defendants, on these claims. The jury awarded $68,270.38 in economic compensatory damages and $5,127,950 in noneconomic compensatory damages to Engler. It allocated responsibility for Engler's harm: 50 percent to Chao, 10 percent to Oasis, and 40 percent to Breg. The jury made findings of malice, oppression, or fraud as to each defendant on at least one claim. In the punitive damages phase of trial, the jury awarded $500,000 against Chao and $7 million against Breg. The jury declined to award any punitive damages against Oasis. Breg, Chao, Oasis, and Virginia Bigler-Engler, as administrator of Engler's estate, appealed, raising numerous challenges to the judgment. In the published portions of its opinion, the Court of Appeal considered: (1) whether Engler's counsel committed prejudicial misconduct during trial; (2) whether the jury's awards of noneconomic compensatory damages and punitive damages were excessive; (3) whether the evidence supported the jury's verdict against Breg for intentional concealment in the absence of a transactional relationship between Breg and Engler (or her parents); (4) whether Oasis fell within the medical provider exception to the doctrine of strict products liability; (5) whether Breg was entitled to an instruction on the learned intermediary doctrine; (6) whether the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA) and Proposition 51 applied to the jury's verdict; and (7) whether Engler's pretrial settlement offer under Code of Civil Procedure section 998 complied with the statute. In the unpublished portions of the opinion, the Court considered additional challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence, the trial court's jury instructions, and the trial court's evidentiary rulings. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment in part, concluding the jury's verdict as to several claims was not supported by the evidence, including Engler's intentional concealment claim against Breg and her strict products liability claim against Oasis. In light of this reversal of Engler's intentional concealment claim against Breg, the jury's punitive damages award against Breg had to be reversed too. Furthermore, the Court concluded the jury's award of noneconomic compensatory damages and the jury's award of punitive damages as to Chao were indeed excessive. Those awards were reversed and remanded for a new trial unless Bigler-Engler accepted reductions in those awards to $1,300,000 and $150,000 respectively. In all other respects, the judgment was affirmed. View "Bigler-Engler v. Breg, Inc." on Justia Law
Gonzales v. City of Atwater
In 2010, Carrizales was making a left turn at an Atwater intersection when she struck and killed Gonzales, a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Gonzales’s family sued Carrizales and the city for wrongful death, alleging Carrizales was negligent and the city was liable under Government Code section 8351 for the dangerous condition of the intersection. A jury found Carrizales not negligent and the city solely liable and awarded plaintiffs approximately $3.2 million in damages. The trial court denied a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, in which the city argued that the design immunity defense of section 830.6 shielded it from liability. The court of appeal reversed. The design immunity defense insulates the from liability for any dangerous condition of the intersection. The city made a discretionary decision to adopt permissive phasing as part of the 2001 plan for the intersection; plaintiffs conceded the 2001 plans were reasonable when adopted. View "Gonzales v. City of Atwater" on Justia Law
Gee v. Estate of Jewett
Defendant Greyhound Lines, Inc. (Greyhound) appealed the trial court’s order granting plaintiff Linda Gee’s motion to set aside dismissal. On appeal, Greyhound argued that the trial court erred in granting relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b), contending that: (1) the court lacked jurisdiction to set aside because Gee failed to comply with the requirements of section 1008; and (2) Gee failed to provide a sufficient showing to justify relief under section 473(b). Gee sued for personal injuries she sustained, naming Greyhound, Estate of James Charles Jewett, Estate of Sylvia Garay, Olga Garay, and Does 1 through 30 as defendants, stemming from a 2010 motor vehicle accident in which she was a passenger on a Greyhound bus involved in the accident. The bus was driven by Jewett. The bus collided with two other vehicles and then crashed into a tree. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded that section 473(b) could provide relief when an action is dismissed due to plaintiff’s counsel’s mistake or inexcusable neglect related to the failure to pay change of venue fees. As this was plaintiff’s initial application for relief under section 473(b), and not a request to reconsider a denial of relief under that section, there was no requirement that she file a motion for reconsideration under section 1008. The Court further concluded that there was sufficient evidence to justify relief under section 473(b). As such, the Court affirmed. View "Gee v. Estate of Jewett" on Justia Law
Advent, Inc. v. National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh
Advent was the general contractor for the Aspen Village project in Milpitas. Advent subcontracted with Pacific, which subcontracted with Johnson. Advent was covered by a Landmark insurance policy and a Topa excess insurance policy. Johnson was covered by National Union primary and excess policies. Kielty, a Johnson employee, fell down an unguarded stairway shaft at the site and sustained serious injuries. Kielty sued Advent, which tendered its defense to its insurers and to National Union. National Union accepted under a reservation of rights. Kielty settled for $10 million. Various insurers, including Topa and National Union (under its primary policy), contributed to the settlement. National Union did not provide coverage under its excess policy. Advent sought a declaration that it was an “additional insured” under that excess policy. Topa intervened, seeking equitable contribution from National Union, and equitable subrogation. Advent dismissed its complaint with prejudice. Summary judgment was entered against Topa, for National Union. The court of appeal affirmed. While Topa’s policy was vague, National Union’s excess policy states that coverage will not apply until “the total applicable limits of Scheduled Underlying Insurance have been exhausted by the payment of Loss to which this policy applies and any applicable, Other Insurance have been exhausted by the payment of Loss.” View "Advent, Inc. v. National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh" on Justia Law
Kase v. Metalclad Insulation Corp.
Kase was exposed to asbestos insulation used on nuclear submarines during the early 1970s. The trial court rejected claims against a broker that arranged for asbestos-containing insulation to be shipped to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, where workers packed it around the submarine piping it protected. The court held, on summary judgment, that the Navy‘s procurement of asbestos insulation for its nuclear submarines implicated the government contractor defense set forth in the Supreme Court’s 1988 holding, Boyle v. United Technologies Corp. The broker procured the insulation pursuant to and in compliance with relatively detailed performance and testing specifications, although those specifications did not expressly call out for asbestos in the insulation. According to undisputed evidence, the specifications could only be met by asbestos-containing insulation, and the only product on the Navy‘s approved list of suitable products was the product at issue, Unibestos. The court of appeal affirmed, stating that the defense does not necessarily exclude the procurement of products also sold commercially. The Navy‘s procurement of the asbestos insulation at issue occurred after years of evaluating and weighing the utility of and the health hazards associated with asbestos products and pursuant to specifications that required an asbestos product. View "Kase v. Metalclad Insulation Corp." on Justia Law
LAOSD Asbestos Cases
This case arose after Kenneth Evans was diagnosed with asbestosis after a decades-long career working for the Southern California Gas Company. After the jury found that Hood‘s conduct exposed Evans to asbestos, but that Hood was not negligent, a defense judgment was entered. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by excluding two exhibits containing SoCalGas specifications for contractors, allowing the president of Hood to use a contract from an irrelevant time period to refresh his recollection about the content of earlier contracts, and giving the jury two erroneous instructions. The court rejected plaintiffs' evidentiary challenges; found that the jury instruction regarding an employer's duty was not an erroneous statement of the law, and even if it were, plaintiffs have not demonstrated that they were prejudiced by any such error; concluded that the use of the special jury instruction regarding the professional standard of care, even if erroneous, did not prejudice plaintiffs in a manner that would warrant reversal; and concluded that the cumulative error doctrine does not apply. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "LAOSD Asbestos Cases" on Justia Law
Gee v. Greyhound Lines, Inc.
Defendant Greyhound Lines, Inc. (Greyhound) appealed a trial court’s order granting plaintiff Linda Gee’s motion to set aside dismissal pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (b). Gee had been injured while a passenger on a Greyhound bus. She alleged the driver was going too fast, which caused the bus to hit two other vehicles and then crash into a tree. Gee also sued the bus driver’s estate and several others relating to the accident. On appeal, Greyhound argued that the trial court erred in granting relief under section 473, subdivision (b), contending that: (1) the court lacked jurisdiction to set aside the dismissal under section 473, subdivision (b), because Gee failed to comply with the requirements of section 1008; and (2) Gee failed to provide a sufficient showing to justify relief under section 473, subdivision (b). The Court of Appeal found no error in the trial court’s judgment, and affirmed. View "Gee v. Greyhound Lines, Inc." on Justia Law