Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Regalado v. Callaghan
Jeffrey Callaghan hired Dunn's Designer Pools (Dunn's), a landscape and pool contractor, to build a pool and spa at his home. Victor Regalado, a Dunn's employee, suffered injuries when he installed a propane fueled pool heater on Callaghan's property. Regalado sued Callaghan for negligence and premises liability. The jury found Callaghan was negligent; the trial court ultimately entered judgment against Callaghan in the amount of approximately $3 million. Callaghan appealed, arguing: (1) the court erred by failing to instruct the jury that a person who hires an independent contractor was not liable for injuries to the contractor's employee unless the hirer's negligent exercise of retained control "affirmatively contributed" to the employee's injury; (2) insufficient evidence supported the jury's verdicts on both premises liability and negligence; (3) Regalado's counsel committed misconduct by urging the jury to base its verdict on protecting the community; (4) the trial court erred by permitting Regalado to recover past wages because Dunn's had continued to pay his salary after the accident; and (5) the jury's award of future medical costs had to be reduced because it was not supported by substantial evidence. Rejecting all of Callaghan's arguments, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. View "Regalado v. Callaghan" on Justia Law
Mills v. AAA Northern CA, NV and Utah Ins. Exch.
Defendant insurance company denied uninsured motorist coverage to a third party beneficiary injured in an automobile accident because it had cancelled the policy before the accident occurred. The third party sued, and the insurer sought summary judgment. The third party opposed, contending the cancellation was invalid because a written notice seeking information sent by the insurer to the insureds prior to cancellation was unreasonable as a matter of law, and disputed facts existed as to whether the insurer had mailed the notice of cancellation and actually cancelled the policy. The trial court granted summary judgment, and finding no error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Mills v. AAA Northern CA, NV and Utah Ins. Exch." on Justia Law
Jorge v. Culinary Inst. of Am.
Jorge sustained injuries when he was struck by a car driven by Da Fonseca, a chef instructor employed by the Culinary Institute. Despite that Da Fonseca had finished his shift at the Culinary Institute and was driving home in his own car at the time of the accident, a jury found the Institute liable for Jorge’s injuries on a theory of respondeat superior. The Culinary Institute unsuccessfully moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the ground there was no evidence supporting the jury’s finding that Da Fonseca was acting in the scope of his employment at the time of the accident and that there was no evidence supporting application of the “required vehicle” exception to the “going and coming” rule. The court of appeal reversed, holding that Culinary Institute cannot be liable to Jorge for injuries caused by Da Fonseca’s negligence because there was no evidence that at the time of the accident Da Fonseca was acting within the scope of his employment. Da Fonseca was a professional chef-instructor who did not take work home with him. View "Jorge v. Culinary Inst. of Am." on Justia Law
Mendez v. Rancho Valencia Resort Partners
The case arose out of a dispute over the reasonableness of the level of noise generated during outdoor festivities held at the Rancho Valencia Resort (the Resort). Plaintiffs, who shared a property line with the Resort, became frustrated with the noise emanating from the Resort when it hosted outdoor events on a lawn created for that purpose. Plaintiffs filed suit, alleging that the Resort's outdoor events constituted a private nuisance, and sought to enjoin the Resort from continuing to create noise that would travel onto plaintiffs' property and disturb them there. The trial court appreciated the difficulties inherent in this situation, but after a trial on the merits, concluded that the Resort's outdoor events did not amount to a private nuisance. Despite plaintiffs' contentions that the trial court failed to properly address purported violations of various San Diego County ordinances, the Court of Appeal concluded that plaintiffs have demonstrated no reversible error in the trial court's decision. View "Mendez v. Rancho Valencia Resort Partners" on Justia Law
Local TV v. Super. Ct.
Kurt Knutsson is a technology reporter who created “Kurt the CyberGuy” video segments for use on television news programs and station websites. Knutsson and his company, Woojivas, Inc., entered into a written agreement with Los Angeles television station KTLA. Pursuant to the agreement, website material Knutsson created was distributed to the websites of certain television stations in other cities, including those of stations owned and operated by LTV. At issue is whether, for purposes of the common law tort of misappropriation of name and likeness, plaintiffs consented to LTV’s use of the CyberGuy material, including placing links to it on webpages along with links to material created by a reporter who was hired following the termination of Knutsson’s contract. The court concluded that plaintiffs cannot demonstrate lack of consent to LTV’s use of the CyberGuy material, so summary judgment in favor of LTV was warranted on the common law misappropriation of name and likeness cause of action. This determination requires that plaintiffs also cannot prevail on the two other causes of action at issue. Accordingly, the court concluded that the trial court erred in denying summary judgment to LTV and granted LTV's petition. View "Local TV v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
Minick v. City of Petaluma
Riding in a non-competitive charity bicycling event, Minick fell while descending a hill in Petaluma. Erwin, riding behind Minick, saw him lose control of his bicycle after hitting a large pothole. Minick exhausted his administrative remedies, and then, represented by Watson, brought suit under Government Code section 835. The city moved for summary judgment, arguing that Minick, who had no recollection of the accident, had no proof of any dangerous condition on public property. Watson opposed the motion, attaching grainy, low-resolution black-and-white photographs of the alleged site, a copy of a police report containing Erwin's statement that he saw a pothole where Minick fell; and an engineer's expert declaration that a defect in the street caused the fall. The court issued a tentative ruling denying the motion. At the hearing, Watson appeared, but showed signs of physical distress and was taken to a hospital by ambulance. The day before a continued hearing, the court again tentatively denied the motion. After hearing arguments, the court granted the motion, referring to Watson’s arguments as “ludicrous.” The court later granted relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b), accepting Watson’s explanation that he had been suffering from a serious illness for which he was under heavy medication. The court of appeal affirmed., When a court finds a wholesale disintegration of the attorney’s professional capacity because of a medical crisis, the availability of relief for excusable neglect is within the court’s sound discretion. View "Minick v. City of Petaluma" on Justia Law
Aluma Systems Concrete Constr. of Cal. v. Nibbi Bros., Inc.
Concrete Construction (Contractor) was sued by employees of Nibbi Concrete, who were injured after a shoring system designed by Contractor collapsed. Subsequently, Contractor sued Employer for indemnification based on a specific provision in the parties’ contract. The trial court dismissed, relying on the allegations in the underlying lawsuit that set forth claims only against Contractor and not against Employer. The court of appeal reversed, stating that the allegations in the underlying lawsuit are not determinative of Contractor’s claim for indemnity. View "Aluma Systems Concrete Constr. of Cal. v. Nibbi Bros., Inc." on Justia Law
Christ v. Schwartz
Susan Christ sued Dwayne Schwartz for personal injury she allegedly suffered when Schwartz's automobile collided with her vehicle. Jon Christ, Susan's husband, also sued Schwartz for loss of consortium based on Susan's injuries. Despite Schwartz's stipulation that his negligence was the sole cause of the collision, the jury awarded no damages to Susan and Jon. The Christs appealed the judgment contending that the trial court erroneously admitted photographs of the damaged vehicles and evidence of Jon's extramarital affair. They also appealed the order denying their motion for a new trial. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Christ v. Schwartz" on Justia Law
Borrayo v. Avery
Borrayo sued Dr. Avery, alleging medical malpractice during the course of treating her for a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome. The condition, which caused intense pain in her right shoulder and scapula, numbness and swelling, painful grip, and weakness when raising her right elbow, was secondary to repetitive stress at work. Avery performed surgery that involved the removal of the right first rib. Plaintiff suffered adverse symptoms approximately 12 months following the surgery, including pain upon moving her right arm, and difficulty in swallowing food. The trial court granted Dr. Avery summary judgment, after sustaining his objection to her sole expert witness’s declaration. The court of appeal reversed, stating that plaintiff’s expert witness, a physician licensed to practice medicine in Mexico, was qualified to provide an opinion about the standard of care to which defendant was held. View "Borrayo v. Avery" on Justia Law
Morlin Asset Mgmt. LP v. Murachanian
After plaintiff was injured when he slipped on the stairs in the common area of a commercial building, he filed suit against the building and its managers (the landlords), for negligence and premises liability. The landlords each filed virtually identical cross-complaints against Edward Murachanian (the tenant), a dentist who rents an office suite in the building. The tenant had hired plaintiff’s employer to clean the carpets in his second-floor suite. The trial court granted the tenant’s motion for summary judgment, finding the lease obligated the tenant to indemnify the landlords only against claims for injuries occurring within the tenant’s office suite, not in the common areas. The court held that, under the indemnity clause in this case, the injury to a third party that occurred outside the dental suite, in a common area over which the landlords have exclusive control, did not arise out of the tenant’s use of the dental suite. It does not matter that the accident would not have happened but for the tenant hiring the third party to clean the carpets in the dental suite, and that the third party may have been at fault. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgments and the order awarding attorney fees. View "Morlin Asset Mgmt. LP v. Murachanian" on Justia Law