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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[01/29] Fazio v. Fairbanks Ranch Country Club
In this slip and fall personal injury action in which plaintiff fell from a stage on defendant’s property before a musical performance, summary judgment entered in favor of defendant is reversed, where a triable issue of fact exists as to whether defendant constructed the stage in a way that unreasonably increased the risk of falling.

[01/29] MacQuiddy v. Mercedes-Benz USA
In this case, defendant failed to repurchase or replace plaintiff's car under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warrant Act. At trial on plaintiff's claim for a civil penalty, the jury found that, while defendant did fail to comply with the Act, it had not done so willfully. Judgment of the trial court denying plaintiff's motion to compel discovery responses, granting a protective order that prevented plaintiff from taking two "persons most knowledgeable" depositions, denying plaintiff's motion for attorney fees, denying in part plaintiff's motion for costs and award defendant its costs is reversed as to the costs order and affirmed in all other respects, where: 1) plaintiff has failed to show it is reasonably probable the jury’s verdict would have been more favorable to him had the trial court granted his motion to compel discovery or denied the motion for a protective order; 2) plaintiff was not a prevailing party because he did not achieve his main litigation objective of obtaining a civil penalty; 3) the trial court erred in finding that defendant's Civil Code section 998 offer to compromise was valid, as, because the undefined and subjective nature of the term that defendant would repurchase the "undamaged" car, the offer was at least ambiguous; and 4) due to the invalidity of the section 998 offer, it did not operate to cut off plaintiff’s costs, nor did it entitle defendant to recoup its post-offer costs.

[01/28] Martin v. Hearst Corporation
In this action brought by plaintiff alleging libel and other publication-related claims against media outlets that published accounts of her 2010 arrest, plaintiff argues that although the accounts were factually true when published, they became false and defamatory when the charges against her were nolled. Under Connecticut's Criminal Records Erasure Statute, when charges against an individual are nolled, that individual's criminal records are erased and he is "deemed to have never been arrested." Summary judgment in favor of defendants and dismissal of each of plaintiff's claims is affirmed, where the Erasure Statute does not render tortious historically accurate news accounts of an arrest.

[01/27] Eriksson v. Nunnink
In the case, the daughter of plaintiffs fell off her horse at a riding event and the horse fell on her, causing her death. Plaintiffs sued defendant, the daughter's riding coach, for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) on grounds that defendant substantially increased the risk that the daughter reasonably assumed by allowing her to ride a horse that was allegedly unfit to ride because of prior falls and lack of practice and by allegedly concealing this condition from plaintiffs. Judgment in favor of defendant, relying in part on a release of liability entered into between defendant and the daughter about six months prior to her death, is affirmed, where: 1) the release of liability is enforceable and can be asserted as a defense to the wrongful death and NIED claims; 2) defendant can therefore only be liable if the daughter's death was caused by defendant's gross negligence; and 3) plaintiffs failed to establish that defendant was grossly negligent.

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Workers' Comp

[01/29] Ogden Entertainment Services v. Workers Compensation Appeals Board
In this case, respondent Ritzhoff sustained numerous orthopedic injuries and injuries to his psyche while working as a banquet server for defendant-petitioner. The decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (the Board) denying the petition for reconsideration and adopting the decision of the workers' compensation judge finding Ritzhoff totally permanently disabled is annulled and the case is remanded with directions for new proceedings, where the due process right of defendant to cross-examination of Ritzhoff was violated.

[01/06] Schultz v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
Decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board denying benefits to plaintiff-employee is annulled, where: 1) under the "going and coming rule," workers' compensation benefits are generally not available for injuries suffered by an employee during a local commute to a fixed place of business at fixed hours, because the injury does not occur during the ordinary course of employment; 2) under the premises line rule, the ordinary course of employment is deemed to commence when an employee enters the employer's premises; and 3) the premises line rule applies to an employee injured in a single-car traffic accident if the employee was a civilian working on a secure Air Force base not generally open to the public, the employee entered the base in his personal vehicle after passing a guard gate using a security pass, the employee had travelled one mile inside the base when the accident occurred, and the employer had multiple locations on the Air Force base between which the employee travelled sometimes in his own vehicle to perform work.

[12/17] Cal. Ins. Guarantee Assn. v. WCAB
In this medical billing dispute, the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (the Board) adopting the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s (WCJ) findings of fact and determinations of the reasonable fee for various arthroscopic knee, shoulder, and epidural injection procedures is affirmed, where: 1) despite the fact that the Legislature created a new administrative independent review process for the resolution of billing disputes in the context of workers’ compensation, and although the text of the relevant medical fee legislation and resulting statutes is ambiguous, the most reasonable interpretation of the legislation is that it does not divest the Board of jurisdiction to decide the dispute at issue in this case; and 2) the WCJ’s findings are supported by substantial evidence.

[11/20] In the Matter of Maureen Kigin v. State of New York Workers' Compensation Board
In this case, claimant was injured on the job and entitled to worker's compensation, but upon receipt of acupuncture treatment, a Workers' Compensation Law Judge determined that claimant's medical provider failed to show that the additional acupuncture treatments were medically necessary. The Workers' Compensation Board affirmed the Judge's determination, arguing that the treatments were not medically necessary within the "Medical Treatment Guidelines." Order of the Appellate Division affirming the Board's decision is affirmed, where: 1) the establishment of the variance procedure was within the Board's broad regulatory powers; 2) it was reasonable for the Board to promulgate uniform guidelines for defining the nature and scope of treatment considered medically necessary; 3) nothing in the Workers' Compensation law precludes the Board from requiring proof of medical necessity from claimant's health care provider; 4) the carrier bears the burden of proffering "substantial evidence"; and 5) the Guidelines provide claimants with a meaningful opportunity to be heard on the denial of any variance request.

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