Following a motor vehicle collision, the plaintiffs took inconsistent positions regarding the damage to their vehicle.  In a recent decision, the California appellate court affirmed the lower court’s judgment in favor of the insurance company.  Not only did the court find that evidence had been properly excluded regarding whether the plaintiff’s vehicle was a total loss, but also the court upheld the finding that the insurer was not liable on the claim of negligence per se.

car servicing

The defendant in this case had been insured, and the company took responsibility for damage to the plaintiffs’ car after a motor vehicle accident.  The plaintiffs had repaired their vehicle, but the insurer notified the DMV that it had been a total loss salvage vehicle. This notification took place before reaching a settlement with the plaintiffs.

After the notification, the plaintiffs were unable to register their car and temporarily lost use of it until Mercury informed the DMV of the error. One of the plaintiffs then suffered a heart attack, allegedly from the stress of this dispute with the insurer and the effect of the DMV notification.

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In a recent case before a California appellate court, the issue on appeal was whether there remained triable issues of material fact concerning whether an intersection where an accident took place constituted a dangerous condition of public property.  Dangerous conditions of property exist when property is defective or damaged in a way that foreseeably endangers those using the property. In analyzing whether the trial court properly granted judgment in favor of the city, the appellate court focused on whether the plaintiffs met their burden of establishing a genuine issue of material fact regarding causation.intersection

The lawsuit centered on a motor vehicle collision in which the defendant driver lost control of his car and hit the plaintiff, a pedestrian, injuring him.  The plaintiff and his family members brought a complaint against the driver and the City of San Jose. On appeal, the claims against the City remained at issue, including allegations of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, dangerous condition of public property, and loss of consortium.

According to the plaintiffs, the intersection was an unreasonably dangerous condition of public property and caused the accident and the resulting injuries.  They alleged that the intersection did not have proper signage, despite previous accidents caused by lack of visibility and lack of proper controls.  The plaintiffs claimed that the City had been on notice of these issues.

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At issue before the California Court of Appeal recently was whether there had been a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit, and if there had, whether the plaintiff showed good cause to prevent the dismissal of the case.  The appellate court held the parties had not reached a settlement, and any umediationnresolved dispute concerning the insurance policy was good cause to prevent dismissal.  The court reversed the judgment, requiring the lower court to place the case on the civil active list.

The plaintiff in this case brought an action for injuries he suffered in a car accident with the defendants.  After attending private mediation, the parties returned to court for a status conference.  However, the court was advised there had been an issue concerning the insurance policy. The plaintiff’s counsel made clear that she wanted to file an underinsured motorist claim against the plaintiff’s insurance carrier.  She understood that before making that claim, she needed to obtain the plaintiff’s insurance company’s permission to settle with the defendants.  The matter was continued on the calendar, and potential insurance coverage issues remained, thwarting resolution.

At a hearing, the judge ordered the plaintiff’s counsel to appear, since a special appearance had been made on behalf of the plaintiff, requesting a jury trial.  At the next hearing, the trial court dismissed the case on the grounds that the same issue was addressed at a prior hearing and that the plaintiff’s counsel had been ordered to appear but failed to do so.

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A proposed bill to be considered by California lawmakers will allow bicyclists to yield at stop signs, as opposed to coming to a complete stop, provided there is no oncoming traffic.  Assembly Bill 1103, is based on the “Idaho Stop” law that permits bicyclists within that state to treat stop signs as though they are yield signs.   According to the California Bill, bikers would have a legal duty to stop for pedestrians as well as cars that have the right of way.  This change in the Vehicle Code may benefit motorists by making intersections more efficient, encouraging bicyclists to simply roll through the stop sign if they have the right of way.

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According to some studies, the law that has been adopted by Idaho, nearly three decades ago, has resulted in increased bicycle safety.  Injuries among bicyclists declined after the law took effect in 1982, and they have remained at the same level thereafter.

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In a personal injury claim following an accident while trimming trees, the plaintiff argued that the defendant tree trimming company’s negligence caused his injuries.  After the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, the California Court of Appeal reviewed whether substantial evidence supported their finding.  In their analysis, the court stated that whether a breached duty of care caused harm is within the jury’s domain to determine. Therefore, treewhen a party to a lawsuit challenges the sufficiency of evidence, it is a “daunting burden.” In this case, the court upheld the jury’s determination that the defendant’s conduct had not substantially caused the accident.

According to the appellate court, there was a “lengthy chain of reasoning” set forth by the plaintiff that attacked the verdict. The facts indicated that the plaintiff and his brother were trimming trees under a power line. The plaintiff was using a metal rod to measure the evenness of the trees when he made contact with a power line and suffered injuries after falling to the ground from his ladder. He brought a lawsuit against a tree trimming company, among others, since the company had the duty of ensuring a clearance around the power lines. While the tree trimming company had inspected the trees months before the accident, they had decided the trees did not need trimming.

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In an unpublished opinion, the California Court of Appeal recently affirmed a judgment in favor of the City of Pasadena, after the trial court held that the plaintiff had not set forth evidence supporting his negligence claim, nor had he shown that Pasadenahe suffered damages, emotional distress, physical injuries, or property damage due to the underlying incident.  In the underlying case, the plaintiff had proceeded in pro per, meaning that he was not represented by legal counsel.

At issue before the appellate court was whether the appellant had presented an adequate record for review of his wrongful death action. The court of appeals stated that the burden is on the party that appeals the lower court judgment.  They must demonstrate an error, and in doing so, they must supply an adequate record for the reviewing court to assess the lower court’s actions.

The plaintiff in this case filed a wrongful death action, alleging that the City of Pasadena’s fire department paramedics negligently transported his son to an emergency room after his son suffered gunshot wounds by a third party.  The trial court eventually granted summary judgment in favor of the City after the City’s requests for admissions showed that the plaintiff admitted he did not have evidence supporting his allegation of negligence. Additionally, the requests for admissions showed that he had not suffered compensatory damages, emotional distress, physical injuries, or property damage due to the incident.  Judgment had been entered for the City.

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In a recent California appeal, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit following a motor vehicle collision argued that the trial court should not have admitted certain portions of the defendant’s medical expert’s testimony.  Since the issues to be determined by the jury included negligence and causation, on appeal, the plaitraffic lightntiff argued that the jury verdict in favor of the defendant should be reversed. She contended the expert testified as to matters outside the scope of his expert designation, and that testimony should have been offered by an accident reconstruction expert.

At the trial level, the issue was whether the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s harm.  The facts showed that the defendant had been in his pickup truck, stopped about 10-12 feet behind the plaintiff’s car.  While reaching for an item in his cab, the defendant stated that his foot slipped off the brake, and his truck collided with the back of the plaintiff’s car.  At the time, there was minimal damage to the vehicles, and no emergency services or tow trucks were called. Both drivers separately drove away in their vehicles.

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In this recent opinion, the issue before the California Court of Appeal was whether a mobile home park owed a duty of care to prevent harm by a third party to residents of the park. The Court of Appeal addressed policy issues regarding extending a duty knifeof care to the landlord in this case, and specifically, whether it was foreseeable that the individual in this case would inflict harm.

The facts indicated that two residents of the mobile park home suffered stabbing wounds by an individual who lived with his aunt but was not a resident of the park. One victim died, and their heirs, along with the surviving victim, filed a civil lawsuit against the mobile home park. The lower court held in favor of the mobile park home, finding that a knife attack had not been sufficiently foreseeable.

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The California Court of Appeals recently addressed whether a school was negligent by failing to supervise two students who fought on their way to high school, off school property. In this opinion, the court focused their analysis on duty and whether the school had uschoolndertaken a duty owed to the students. The appellate court concluded that Education Code section 44808 provided the school with immunity for injuries taking place off school property, and here there had not been a specific undertaking of responsibility. The school was not at fault.

Education Code section 44808 provides schools with immunity when students are injured off school property and under circumstances the school could not control.  The lower court held that foreseeability alone did not create a duty to supervise the students. The appellate court affirmed. After a verbal dispute in class, one of two high school students was sent home early to avoid further contact, and a notation was made to their class schedule, indicating that the two students could not be in class together.  On the following day, before school, the two students physically engaged, and one student alleged he was injured when struck by the other.

The allegedly injured student filed a complaint, naming the school district and the other student as defendants. The complaint alleged premises liability and negligence.  The school district moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was immune from liability under Education Code section 44808. The court ruled in its favor because the fight took place off school grounds, and the school had not undertaken supervision of the students off school property.  The plaintiff appealed.

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In a lawsuit for negligence and premises liability, the California Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants because they had no notice of the allegedly dangerous condition.  In this opinion, the court analyzed the elements of a premises liability claim and assessed whether the plaintiff had met her burden of showing that the defendants had notice of the stairwayallegedly dangerous step in their home.

The plaintiff in this case was touring a home offered for sale when she fell on a stair and injured herself. The stair was one step down into a living room, approximately 5.6 inches in elevation change. At the time of her fall, the defendants, including the homeowners and their real estate agents, were not in the house.  In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants (the real estate agent, as well as her husband, a broker) knew or should have known that the dangerous condition (which was the step-down change in elevation of a single stair) created an unreasonable risk of harm.  Her complaint alleged that the defendants failed to remedy the condition or failed to adequately warn of the condition. The defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that the step was open and obvious, and the defendants did not have a duty to warn.  They also contended that the step had not presented any danger, and they had no notice of any dangerous condition.

The trial court entered summary judgment for the defendants, persuaded that the homeowners did not have notice that the step inside their home constituted a dangerous condition requiring a warning. As a result, the court found they had no duty, and the other real estate defendants should be granted summary judgment.

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