In a recent case before the California Court of Appeal, the court addressed a plaintiff’s allegations of error concerning the trial court’s exclusion of evidence in her single-vehicle personal injury lawsuit.  The court analyzed whether the plaintiff had met the elements of showing that a dangerous condition of public property existed on the road.  They also made clear that the standard on review was whether there was a reasonable probability the jury would have reached a result more favorable to the plaintiff, had there been no error.


The plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the State of California for severe and permanent injuries she suffered in an accident on State Route 127 in July 2012.  She contended that a puddle on the road caused her vehicle to veer and roll over.  On behalf of the state, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) prevailed in a jury trial, when the jury found no dangerous condition existed.

In her appeal, the plaintiff contended that it had been a prejudicial error to exclude testimony from her biomechanical expert and a witness to the accident. Regarding the biomechanical expert, whom the plaintiff had designated to testify regarding how her injuries occurred during the car accident, Caltrans had contended that the expert was not qualified to offer opinions on the topic of accident reconstruction and traffic engineering.  The expert was going to testify regarding the number of rollovers that took place in the accident.

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The California Court of Appeal recently found in favor of a plaintiff who alleged that she had developed mesothelioma due to her husband’s exposure to asbestos fibers at work. The significance of this opinion is that it relies upon new case law set forth by the state Supreme Court. In light of the new law, the appellate court expanded the duty of care outside the employer-employee realm, holding that the employer may have owed a duty of care to the wife of the deceased employee.

construction work

In reviewing recent caselaw concerning the duty of care owed to family members, the court stated that we all have a duty to use due care, avoiding injuring others.  Turning to the Rowland v. Christian (1968) 69 Cal.2d 108 (Rowland) factors, the court had previously held that premises owners do not need to protect family members from harm caused by contact with family members wearing asbestos-contaminated work clothes home. However, Kesner v. Superior Court (2016) 1 Cal.5th 1132 (Kesner) was recently decided, and the California Court of Appeal stated that based on that decision, the employer in this case owed the plaintiff a duty.

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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.

stop sign

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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