Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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In this appeal arising from a demurrer, Plaintiffs could allege a cause of action against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation for warning label liability. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal, which directed the trial court to enter an order sustaining Novartis’s demurrer with leave to amend Plaintiffs’ negligence and negligent misrepresentation causes of action. Plaintiffs claimed, inter alia, that Novartis knew or should have known that its warning label failed to alert pregnant women or their doctors to the risk Brethine posed to fetal brain development. Novartis filed a demurrer, arguing that it had no duty to Plaintiffs. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend. The Court of Appeal reversed and directed that the order sustaining the demurrer be modified to grant Plaintiffs leave to amend their causes of action for negligence and negligent misrepresentation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) brand-name drug manufacturers have a duty to use ordinary care in warning about the safety risks of their drugs, regardless of whether the injured party was dispensed the brand-name or generic version of the drug; and (2) a brand-name manufacturer’s sale of the rights to a drug does not terminate its liability for injuries foreseeably and proximately caused by deficiencies present in the warning label prior to the sale. View "T.H. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal ruling that a court’s error in failing to issue a statement of decision as required by Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 632 is not reversible per se but is subject to harmless error review. The trial court issued a tentative decision finding that Defendant committed acts of sexual assault against Plaintiff and that Defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiff’s counsel submitted a proposed judgment to the court. The court signed the judgment without issuing a separate statement of decision. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in failing to issue a statement of decision and that the error was reversible per se. The court of appeals concluded that the trial court erred but that the error did not result in a miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a trial court’s error in failing to issue a statement of decision upon a timely request is not reversible per se but is, rather, subject to harmless error review. View "F.P. v. Monier" on Justia Law

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A landowner does not have a duty to assist invitees in crossing a public street when the landowner does no more than site and maintain a parking lot that requires invitees to cross the street to access the landowner’s premises, as long as the public street’s dangers are not obscured or magnified by some condition of the landowner’s premises or by some action taken by the landowner. Plaintiff sued Grace Family Church (the Church) for injuries he received when he was struck by a car as he crossed a public street between the main premises of the Church and the Church’s overflow parking area. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the Church, which did not control the public street, owed him a duty of care to assist him in safely crossing the public street and that the Church was negligent in failing to do so. The trial court granted the Church summary judgment. The Court of Appeal reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the Church did nothing more than site and maintain a parking lot that required its invitees to cross a public street, the Church owed Plaintiff no duty to protect him from the obvious dangers of crossing the public street. View "Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The interim adverse judgment rule applies when a trial court had initially denied summary judgment on the basis that a lawsuit had sufficient potential merit to proceed to trial but concluded after trial that the suit had been brought in bad faith because the claim lacked evidentiary support. In the underlying case, Plaintiffs were sued for misappropriation of trade secrets. Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. The trial court subsequently granted judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs later brought a malicious prosecution against the opposing parties’ lawyers in the trade secrets case. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that Plaintiffs could not establish a probability of success because the order denying summary judgment in the underlying trade secrets action established probable cause to prosecute that action. The trial court granted the motion to strike, concluding that the action was untimely. The court of appeal concluded that the action was timely but that the interim adverse judgment rule applied, thus barring the malicious prosecution suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the denial of summary judgment in the trade secrets action established probable cause to bring that action, and therefore, Plaintiffs could not establish a probability of success on their malicious prosecution claim. View "Parrish v. Latham & Watkins" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a minor, filed a complaint against Huntington Beach Union High School District (District), alleging that he was injured in a school football game. Plaintiff’s personal injury action accrued on October 31, 2011, the date of his diagnosis. Plaintiff did not file a claim within six months, as required by Cal. Gov't Code 911.2(a), but presented the District with an application to file a late claim nearly one year after the claim accrued. Because the District took no action on the application, it was deemed denied on December 8, 2012 by operation of law. Under Cal. Gov't Code 946.6(b), a petition for relief from the obligation to present a claim before brining suit must be filed within six months after a late claim application is either denied or deemed denied. Plaintiff did not file such a petition until October 28, 2013. The trial court rejected the petition. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff missed the six-month window for petition the trial court for relief, and therefore, the trial court properly dismissed the petition as untimely. View "J.M. v. Huntington Beach Union High School District" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff sued Bakewell Hawthorne, LLC and JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA, claiming that he fell and was injured on property owned by Bakewell and leased by Chase. Plaintiff made no disclosure of expert witnesses, but in response to Bakewell’s motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff submitted the declarations of two experts. Bakewell objected to the introduction of these declarations. The trial court sustained the objection because Plaintiff had failed to disclose the experts. The court then granted summary judgment for Bakewell. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that when the time of exchanging expert witness information has expired before a party moves for summary judgment, and a party objects to a declaration from an undisclosed expert, the admissibility of the expert’s opinion must be determined before the summary judgment motion is resolved. View "Perry v. Bakewell Hawthorne, LLC" on Justia Law

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During a three-year period, Defendant outbid Plaintiffs on twenty-three public works contracts to apply a slurry seal coating on various roadways in California. Plaintiffs jointly sued Defendant in five counties for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. The Riverside complaint - the only tort action at issue in this appeal - alleged that Defendant won six public works contracts on which either plaintiff was the second lowest bidder and that Plaintiffs’ bids would have been accepted but for Defendant’s wrongful conduct during the bidding process. The trial court sustained Defendant’s demurrer to the entire cause of action. The appellate court reversed as to the tortious interference claim, determining that Plaintiffs’ pleading was adequate. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the demurrer was properly sustained because, under the highly regulated circumstances regarding these public works contracts, Plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficient. View "Roy Allan Slurry Seal, Inc. v. American Asphalt South, Inc." on Justia Law

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Eke Wokocha sued Sharp Memorial Hospital alleging that the Hospital’s negligence caused his quadriplegia. The jury found that the Hospital was negligent but that this negligence did not cause Wokocha’s quadriplegia. Wokocha subsequently died, and Wokocha’s widow, Berthe Kabran, was substituted as plaintiff. Kabran moved for a new trial on the basis of evidence obtained from an autopsy that purportedly called into question the jury’s causation determination. Kabran did not timely pay the necessary filing fee in submitting expert affidavits explaining the significance of this new evidence. The Hospital, however, did not object to the timeliness of the affidavits. Consequently, the trial court granted Kabran’s motion for a new trial. The Hospital appealed, arguing that because the affidavits were not timely filed, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to rely on them in hearing the motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the Hospital did not object to the timeliness of the affidavits in the trial court, it may not raise this issue for the first time on appeal. View "Kabran v. Sharp Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

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Domestic or take-home exposure to asbestos occurs when a worker who is directly exposed to a toxin carries it home on his person or clothing and a member of his household is exposed through physical proximity with that worker or the worker’s clothing. Plaintiffs filed these actions for personal injury and wrongful death, alleging that take-home exposure to asbestos was a contributing cause to the deaths of the two decedents and that the employers of the decedents’ family members had a duty to prevent this exposure. The trial and appellate courts in the two cases reached varying conclusions as to the existence of a duty on the part of users of asbestos to prevent nonemployees who have never visited their facilities from being exposed to asbestos used in the defendants’ business. The Supreme Court held (1) employers have a duty to prevent exposure to asbestos carried by the bodies and clothing got on-site workers, and where it is reasonably foreseeable that workers will carry asbestos from the premises to household members, employers have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent this means of transmission; and (2) this duty, which also applies to premises owners who use asbestos on their property, extends only to members of a worker’s household. View "Kesner v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Sheriff's deputies came to the home of Shane Hayes in response to a call from a neighbor. When the deputies arrived, Hayes's girlfriend informe them that Hayes was suicidal. The deputies then entered the house, where Hayes came toward them with a large knife raised in his right hand. The deputies simultaneously drew their guns and fired at Hayes, who died from the gunshot wounds. Hayes's daughter filed a complaint in federal district court against the County of San Diego and the deputies, alleging three federal law claims and two state law claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims, finding that the deputies owed Plaintiff no duty of care with respect to their preshooting conduct. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asked the California Supreme Court to answer a question of state law. The Court answered by holding that, under California negligence law, liability can arise from tactical conduct and decisions employed by law enforcement preceding the use of deadly force if the conduct and decisions leading to the use of deadly force show, as part of the totality of the circumstances, that the use of deadly force was unreasonable.View "Hayes v. County of San Diego" on Justia Law