Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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Appellants are patients at medical facilities operated by respondent Centrelake Medical Group. In reliance on Centrelake’s allegedly false representations that it employed reasonable safeguards for patients’ personal identifying information (PII), Appellants entered into contracts with Centrelake. Appellants brought an action against Centrelake on behalf of themselves and a putative class of patients affected by a data breach. The complaint contained causes of action for breach of contract, negligence, and violations of the Unfair Competition Law (UCL). Centrelake demurred, arguing that Appellants had failed to adequately plead any cognizable injury and that their negligence claim was barred by the economic loss rule. Appellants opposed the demurrer. On appeal, Appellants contend the court erred in sustaining the demurrer with respect to each of their claims and abused its discretion in denying their request for leave to amend.   The Second Appellate District affirmed the judgment with respect to the dismissal of Appellants’ negligence claim without leave to amend, but reverse with respect to Appellants’ UCL and contract claims. The court concluded that Appellants adequately alleged UCL standing and contract damages under their benefit-of-the-bargain theory, and the Appellant who purchased monitoring services, did the same under Appellants’ monitoring-costs theory. However, Appellants have not shown the court erred in dismissing their negligence claim under the economic loss rule; nor have they shown the court abused its discretion in denying their request for leave to amend. View "Moore v. Centrelake Medical Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants Patricia Flores and Angelica Sanchez appealed after the trial court granted summary judgment in favor defendant City of San Diego (the City). Flores and Sanchez sued the City for wrongful death and negligence, respectively, in connection with the death of William Flores, who was operating a motorcycle that was the subject of a police vehicle pursuit when he crashed and was killed. The City moved for summary judgment on the ground that it was immune from liability under the grant of immunity provided for in Vehicle Code section 17004.7. The Court of Appeal concluded that the vehicle pursuit policy training required by section 17004.7 had to meet certain basic standards that were set forth in California Code of Regulations, title 11, section 1081, as adopted by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (the POST Commission), including an annual one-hour minimum time standard set out in that regulation, before a governmental entity was entitled to immunity under the statute. "Not only did the City fail to present undisputed evidence that the training it provided in the year prior to the incident at issue met the annual one-hour standard, but the City failed to dispute the fact, put forth by appellants, that the training implemented by the City comprised a single video of less than half the required one-hour duration." In the absence of training that met the standards imposed by Regulation 1081, as required by section 17004.7, the City was not entitled to immunity under that statute, as a matter of law. Summary judgment in favor of the City was therefore erroneously granted, and the judgment had to be reversed. View "Flores v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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Under California law, the Privette doctrine holds that there is a strong presumption that a hirer of an independent contractor delegates to the contractor all responsibility for workplace safety. SMC Contracting, Inc. (SMC) hired Tyco Simplex Grinnell, Inc. (Tyco) to install an automatic fire sprinkler system for a development in South Lake Tahoe. On one date during installation, a Tyco employee, Tommy Ray McCullar, arrived at work and found the floor covered in ice. While trying to use a ladder on the ice, he slipped and suffered injuries. McCullar later sued SMC based on these events. But the trial court, relying on the Privette doctrine, granted summary judgment in SMC’s favor. Challenging this decision on appeal, McCullar’s contended the Privette doctrine did not protect SMC because SMC retained control over Tyco’s work and negligently exercised this control in a way that affirmatively contributed to his injuries. That was so, he reasoned, because SMC caused the ice to form on the floor and then told him to go back to work after he notified it about the ice. Based on the Privette doctrine, and because McCullar failed to raise a triable issue of material fact, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "McCullar v. SMC Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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Wong was a former patient of a mental health service provider at the Veterans Home called Pathway; in 2018 he went to the facility armed and dressed for combat and took hostage three Pathway employees. After exchanging fire with a Napa County Sheriff’s deputy, Wong shot and killed his hostages and then killed himself. Family members of the victims filed wrongful death actions naming multiple defendants, including the California Department of Veterans and related state defendants), Napa County, the Sheriff’s Office, and Deputy Lombardi.The trial court dismissed the Napa County defendants from two of the wrongful death actions, finding that the plaintiffs failed to allege facts establishing a duty of care. The court of appeal affirmed. Oeace officers owe a duty to act reasonably when using deadly force, but the plaintiffs fail to allege facts showing that this duty encompassed an obligation to prevent Wong from shooting his hostages. The alleged connections between Lombardi’s actions and Wong’s crimes are little more than speculation. Allegations regarding Lombardi’s conduct at the crime scene do not show that he had a special relationship with the hostages. View "Golick v. State of California" on Justia Law

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On April 10, 2017, Cedric Anderson entered his wife’s classroom at an elementary school, which was part of the San Bernardino City Unified School District (the district). Anderson shot and killed his wife, a student, and himself in front of a class of students. Plaintiffs-appellants C.I. (minor), J.I. (guardian ad litem), D.B. (minor), J.B. (guardian ad litem), B.E.Jr. (minor), B.E.Sr. (guardian ad litem), J.A.G. (minor), J.G. (guardian ad litem), M.M. (minor), M.T.M. (guardian ad litem), M.P. (minor), E.B. (guardian ad litem), M.R. (minor), and D.R. (guardian ad litem) filed suit against defendants-respondents district and Y.D. (the school’s principal), alleging, inter alia, negligence and dangerous condition of property. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds they owed no duty to plaintiffs because Anderson’s actions were unforeseeable, the school property was not a dangerous condition because there was no defect, and Anderson was not using the school property with due care. The trial court agreed, and judgment was entered in defendants’ favor. On appeal, plaintiffs contended defendants had a duty to take reasonable steps to protect students from criminal activity, and the district created a dangerous condition by failing to lock the front office door and equip classrooms with doors that locked. Finding no reversible error in the trial court judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "C.I. v. San Bernardino City Unified School Dist." on Justia Law

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Wet tile at Hibachi Buffet caused Plaintiff to slip and hit the floor hard. The jury awarded damages, but the court granted Buffet’s two posttrial motions. One was for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The other, in the alternative, was for a new trial. Identical logic propelled both motions. Buffet said no evidence showed its employees spilled liquid on its floor, so blaming them was impermissibly speculative.   The Second Appellate District reversed both orders and reinstated the jury verdict. Plaintiff offered a reasonable explanation for how the tile got wet, one consistent with the company’s admission about its use of the hallway: a Buffet employee taking dirty dishes to the kitchen spilled liquid on the way. The court held that when viewing the evidence in a light favorable to the verdict, it was legal error to reject the verdict as impermissible speculation. The jury was reasoning, not guessing.   Further, the court wrote that Buffet’s admission put its employees in the hallway where Plaintiff slipped, transporting dishes from the dining area to the kitchen. Buffet’s witness testified the dishes included cups containing the liquid customers left in them. The trial court credited Plaintiff with observing a “trail of liquid” down the hallway stretching eight to 10 feet. The video portrayed the spill’s shape. Neither Buffet nor the trial court offered another plausible explanation. Thus, the verdict enjoyed reasonable evidentiary support. View "Perez v. Hibachi Buffet" on Justia Law

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A Hollywood producer took his chef and executive assistant on a trip to Bora Bora. While there, the executive assistance died after consuming alcohol, cocaine, and then drowning. The chef provided the woman with the cocaine and alcohol. The deceased's parents then filed this wrongful death claim against the producer. The trail court found that the chef's actions in providing cocaine and alcohol to the deceased fell outside the scope of his employment, granting summary judgment to the producer. The parents appealed.On appeal, the Second Appellate District affirmed, agreeing that the chef's late-night activities with the assistant were not within the scope of his employment. View "Musgrove v. Silver" on Justia Law

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Defendant appeals the trial court’s judgment in favor of Plaintiff on her causes of action for wrongful eviction and financial elder abuse. Defendant contends that (1) it was unfairly surprised at trial because the pleadings were inadequate to put LOP on notice of Plaintiff's claims; (2) Plainitiff failed to prove financial elder abuse; (3) the trial court erred in the admission and exclusion of evidence; (4) Plaintiff is not entitled to damages, or alternatively, her damages should be limited; and (5) the award of attorney fees and costs should be reversed. address the adequacy of the pleadings.   The Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s judgment, order denying the motion for a new trial, and order awarding Plaintiff attorney fees. The court explained the record demonstrates that Defendant was not misled. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial on this basis. Having argued that refusal to re-rent was the only theory of recovery for wrongful eviction pleaded in the complaint in its summation brief, Defendant cannot contend that it was unfairly surprised or that the cause of action was inadequately pleaded. Further, the court held that the right to re-rent under LAMC Section 151.27 and the Ellis Act is a property right within the meaning of the Elder Abuse Act. Moreover, substantial evidence supports the finding that LOP had fraudulent intent and knew its refusal to re-rent was wrong or harmful to Plaintiff. View "Cameron v. Las Orchidias Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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The issue in this appeal is whether respondent Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital (Hospital) can be held liable for the alleged negligence of its staff physician. The physician’s patient, Plaintiff, appealed the judgment entered after the trial court granted Hospital’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff claimed that the physician had negligently injured him during surgery performed at Hospital. Plaintiff settled his malpractice action against the physician for $1 million, the maximum coverage under the physician’s professional liability insurance policy.   Based on actual agency and ostensible agency theories, Plaintiff sought to hold Hospital vicariously liable for the physician’s negligence. The Second Appellate District affirmed the judgment in Hospital’s favor. The court explained that for actual agency to exist, the principal must in some manner indicate that the agent is to act for him, and the agent must act or agree to act on his behalf and subject to his control. By producing the “Physician Recruitment Agreement” between Hospital and the physician, Hospital satisfied its initial burden of production as well as its burden of persuasion for summary judgment purposes. In his reply brief Plaintiff alleged, “Because of the extent of [Hospital’s] control over the physician’s practice of medicine, except for how he actually treated patients, the physician was an actual agent of Hospital.” Accordingly, summary judgment was properly granted as to Plaintiff’s claim of actual agency. For summary judgment purposes, Hospital satisfied its initial burden of production as well as its burden of persuasion that the physician was not its ostensible agent. View "Franklin v. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff designated his nephew as his health care agent and attorney-in-fact using an advance health care directive and power of attorney for health care decisions form developed by the California Medical Association (the Advance Directive). After the execution of the Advance Directive, Plaintiff was admitted to a skilled nursing facility. Nineteen days later, his nephew executed an admission agreement and a separate arbitration agreement purportedly on Plaintiff’s behalf as his “Legal Representative/Agent”. The sole issue on appeal is whether the nephew was authorized to sign the arbitration agreement on Plaintiff’s behalf.   In answering the relevant question on appeal, the Second Appellate District held that an agent’s authority to make “health care decisions” on a principal’s behalf does not include the authority to execute optional arbitration agreements. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s order denying the motion to compel arbitration. The court explained that its conclusion that the execution of an arbitration agreement is not a “health care decision” finds support in the regulatory history of the recently enacted federal regulatory scheme prohibiting nursing facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid programs from requiring a resident (or his representative) to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admission. Specifically, in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (i.e., the agency’s) responses to public comments published in the Federal Register. These comments and responses demonstrate that practically speaking, arbitration agreements are not executed as part of the health care decision-making process, but rather are entered into only after the agent chooses a nursing facility based on the limited options available and other factors unrelated to arbitration. View "Logan v. Country Oaks Partners" on Justia Law