In a lawsuit following a motor vehicle collision, the injured plaintiffs were awarded compensation for their medical costs, lost wages from work, and general damages.  At the time of the collision, the plaintiffs had been acting in the course of employment, and were also awarded workers’ compensation benefits. The main issue in this appeal concecollision compromise offerrned a settlement offer between the defendant and the employer’s insurance company.  On appeal, the court emphasized the role of intention in a written agreement, and particularly when one party is assigning legal rights.

California Code of Civil Procedure section 998 provides an Offer to Compromise, which is often used in personal injury cases in order to reach an agreement in a dispute before trial.  In this case, the defendant responsible for causing the automobile accident had appealed a trial court order enforcing a Section 998 Offer. He contended there had not been a meeting of the minds regarding agreed terms of settlement.  

The facts of the underlying lawsuits indicate that plaintiffs brought separate lawsuits against defendant for their injuries, and their employer’s insurer filed a complaint in intervention, in order to recover the costs of their workers’ compensation benefits they had paid to plaintiffs.  Defendant then attempted to settle the insurer’s complaint through a Section 998 Offer, which was accepted, and filed with the court. Then, defendant sent insurer an agreement with an assignment of plaintiffs’ workers’ compensation lien rights to defendant, which was a modification of the original offer.  At the time, the insurer held $161,322.05 in lien rights between the two plaintiffs.  Because the Section 998 Offer had not included this assignment of rights, the insurer responsed by sending its draft of the settlement agreement without the assigned rights.

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The California Court of Appeal recently issued a judgment affirming a lower court’s judgment against a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. Following a motor vehicle collision in San Diego, the plaintiff brought personal injury claims against the County. The trial court issued a minute order thvehicle crashat determined the plaintiff had caused the accident when he failed to exercise caution while exiting his driveway and collided with a County employee driving a County vehicle.

On appeal, plaintiff challenged the finding that he was at fault for causing the collision.  The appellate standard for review is one of substantial evidence, and the court made clear that an appeal does not serve as a second hearing, but determines whether any error occurred in the trial court proceedings. If there was error, the court must determine whether it was prejudicial to the defendant.

The court also stated that appellants must provide adequate records if they are challenging a trial court’s findings.  This is based on the rule that an order or judgment is presumed to be correct, and appellants must demonstrate prejudicial error to be successful on appeal.

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Following a collision on a bicycle path in Santa Monica in 2012, a jury found that the defendant bicyclist had not been negligent toward the plaintiff inline skater.  The California Court of Apbike path negligencepeal addressed whether the lower court had erred in denying the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and in denying the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial.

The plaintiff argued that the evidence showed the defendant was negligent when he tried to pass him on the path.  Since the jury had returned a verdict that the defendant was not negligent, the plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, and the entry of a partial JNOV (judgment notwithstanding the verdict).  The court had denied the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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Following a fatal head-on motorcycle accident on State Highway 33, surviving family members of the deceased brought a wrongful death action.  A jury determined that the State of California and the operator ofmotorcycle accident liability the other motorcycle had been at fault for the accident. Specifically, the State was deemed liable for a dangerous condition on the highway, and the victim’s family was awarded $12,690,000 in damages.

After deliberation, Juror No. 2 stated to the trial court that Juror No. 7 had not been deliberating, and a second Juror had stated this to be true as well. The trial court excused Juror No. 7 and seated an alternate. The issue in this case, on appeal, was whether the evidence supported a showing by “demonstrable reality” that the dismissed juror was unable to perform her duty.

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In an unpublished opinion, a California Court of Appeal held that the owner and manager of a bar was not responsible for the death of a woman who had been served alcohol and allowed to drive home while intobarxicated.   In reaching this conclusion, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to sustain the defendants’ demurrer to the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint. Specifically, the court rejected the argument that there was an applicable exception to the general rule that serving alcohol does not render a person liable for any resulting injuries.

The decedent in this case was a 27-year-old wife and mother who lost control of her car while driving while intoxicated. The plaintiffs in this case were the son, husband, and parents of the decedent. They brought a lawsuit against the owner and manager of the bar where the woman had been drinking before driving, alleging that they had been negligent in serving her alcohol and allowing her to then drive.

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On appeal, the California Court for the Fourth Appellate District addressed whether a temporary employee had acted within the scope of his employment when he caused a motor vehicle accident that killed one victim and seriously injured another.   Under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer may broade vicariously liable for the actions of an employee.  In this case, the court examined the exceptions to the “going and coming rule,” which precludes an employer’s liability on the ground that an employee on their way to and from work is outside the course and scope of employment.

The plaintiffs, including the wife and son of the fatally injured victim in the car accident, brought a wrongful death action against a company following a car crash caused by its employee.   They argued that the nature of the driver’s employment before the accident prevented the application of the “going and coming rule.”  They argued that an exception to the rule applied, since the employee had a long commute to work.

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The California Court of Appeal recently held, in an unpublished opinion, that a company that failed to intervene when a truck driver may have appeared drunk while loading their cargo was not liable for the resulting injuries caused by that driver.  This opinion focused on the fact that since no special relationship had been alleged,truck the company could not be liable for its omission (failing to act).  In stating that they found no duty on the part of the company, the court noted that it was a harsh rule, the rule of non-liability for nonfeasance.

After a fatal truck accident, surviving family members brought a lawsuit against the truck driver, his employer, and the onion company where the driver loaded his truck.  At issue on appeal was whether the lower court had properly found that the onion company was not liable under an entrustment allegation, denying the plaintiffs’ request to amend and allege misfeasance, since the driver had appeared drunk, and the company had not refused to load the truck.  In their appeal, the plaintiffs contended that they should have been able to amend their complaint.

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The issue of whether a taxi driver was an agent or an employee of a defendant taxi company recently came before the California Court of Appeal.  Following a motorcycle crash, the plaintiff in this case had filed a personal injury claim against the taxi driver who crashed into him and the company for which he worked.  The trial court had found that the evidence did not support the jury’s finding that the driver was an agent of the taxi company, anmotorcycle collisiond it granted a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV).  The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the evidence did show agency and supported the verdict.  On appeal, the court held that public regulations could be used to determine principal-agent relations, when those regulations require the taxi company to exert control.

While riding his motorcycle through West Hollywood, the plaintiff had been struck by the defendant’s taxi, coming from an opposite direction, which turned left in front of the plaintiff. The defendant driver opened his taxi and set his own hours. He had a contract with the defendant taxi company, and it stated he was an independent contractor.

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The California Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court judgment in favor of a gym in a personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged product liability, negligence, and premises liability claims.  After suffering injuries while lifting weights, the plaintiff in this case sought damages against the gym.  The court analyzed whether the plaintiff had a viable product liability claim and found that as a fitness service provider, the gym was not liable for his injuries.  Additionally, the plaintiff’s alleweightliftinggations of harm were barred by the doctrine of primary assumption of risk.  In this case, the plaintiff had assumed the risk of harm inherent in lifting weights, and the gym had not increased that inherent risk.

The plaintiff in this personal injury lawsuit had been using a “hack squat” exercise machine at the gym in San Francisco. The machine strengthens quadriceps muscles as the user performs squats by raising and lowering legs and pushing the weight apparatus up and down. The machine did not have a “safety brake,” which prevents the weight apparatus from descending to the bottom of the frame if the user cannot return the weight to the starting position.  While performing exercises, the plaintiff’s legs got tired, and he could not return the weight to the starting position.  As the weight descended, the plaintiff was forced into a “crunched position” and suffered injuries.

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The California Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants, landlords who had moved for summary judgment in a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff had alleged negligence after stairwaytripping and falling down a stairway in the common area of her apartment building. The court focused on whether the trial court had properly found that the defendants lacked notice of the alleged defect, which is a required element of a plaintiff’s negligence claim.  Concluding that the evidence showed a triable issue of material fact remained both on whether the stairway was a dangerous condition and whether the landlords had notice of the condition, the appellate court reversed the judgment.

The plaintiff alleged she had tripped on the metal “nose” of a stair and fallen down the stairway at the defendants’ property.  In her complaint against the defendants, the plaintiff alleged that the stairways had been diligently maintained, operated, designed, and constructed.  She claimed that she had not been warned about the dangerous condition.

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