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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[10/17] Young v. US
In this Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) case brought against the United States, alleging that defendant negligently failed to warn visitors at a National Park of a known hazard, dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is reversed, where: 1) the National Park Service’s decision not to warn of the known hazard is not susceptible to policy considerations, and therefore is not protected under the discretionary function exception to the FTCA; and 2) the district court therefore erred in determining that it lacked jurisdiction over the case.

[10/09] A.S. v. SmithKline Beecham Corp.
Following remand of this case to Pennsylvania state court after a finding that defendant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was a citizen of Pennsylvania, the present Court decided Johnson v. SmithKline, in which it was held that GSK was a citizen of Delaware. GSK then re-removed the case to federal court. The order denying motion to remand is reversed and the district court is directed to remand this case to state court, where: 1) GSK's re-removal is prohibited by 28 U.S.C. section 1446(b), as the provision expressly forbids untimely removals, and here, the relevant notice of removal was untimely filed over a year and a half after FSK was served with the initial pleading; 2) GSK cannot rely on the second paragraph of section 1446(b), as new developments in the law do not trigger the recommencement of the thirty-day time limit - only amended pleadings, motions, orders, or other papers trigger the limit; 3) the second paragraph prohibits removal of diversity cases more than one year after the case commences; and 4) equitable tolling is not warranted.

[10/08] Lobo v. Tamco
In this personal injury action involving a vehicular collision, judgment in favor of defendant Tamco is affirmed, where the evidence does not compel a finding that the employee-driver was acting in the scope of employment at the time of the accident, as the trier of fact remains free to determine in a particular case that the employee's use of his or her vehicle was too infrequent to confer a sufficient benefit to the employer as to attribute negligence to the employer for the operation of the vehicle.

[10/08] Cioffi v. Gilbert Enterprises
In this personal injury action, plaintiff's challenges the district court's jurisdictional findings following a within-circuit transfer order for the purposes of determining personal jurisdiction. Judgment against plaintiff is affirmed, where: 1) the jurisdictional conclusion never ripened into an actual order of dismissal, but formed a part of the rationale for transferring the action; 2) even if it had ripened, plaintiff did not appeal either the transfer order or the order of dismissal, and appellate review of a transfer order is for abuse of discretion, which plaintiff did not argue; and 3) plaintiff did not present, at a minimum, some developed argumentation addressed to the relevant order, and as such, any potential challenge is deemed waived.

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Workers' Comp

[08/06] LeFiell Manufacturing Co. v. Superior Court (Watrous)
In an action brought by plaintiff-employee under Labor Code section 4558, which provides an exception to the exclusivity of the workers' compensation system for employees injured as a result of the employer's knowing removal of, or knowing failure to install, a point of operation guard on a power press, the trial court erred in denying defendant-employer's motion for summary judgment, where: 1) the door that was removed from the Fenn 5F swaging machine operated by plaintiff-employee is not a point of operation guard as a matter of law; and thus, 2) defendant -employer is entitled to summary judgment.

[07/18] Benavides v. WCAB
The decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board rescinding petitioner's disability rating is annulled, where there was good cause for the Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) to reopen the case and therefore the appeals board is directed to reinstate the WCJ's award of a 72 percent disability rating. (Opinion after rehearing)

[06/27] Old Republic Construction Program Group v. Boccardo Law Firm
The trial court's order denying defendants' motion under the anti-SLAPP law, to strike three causes of action asserted against them by plaintiff, alleging that defendants law firm and attorney wrongfully withdrew settlement funds derived from a now-defunct lawsuit, which they had deposited in their trust account pursuant to a stipulation requiring plaintiff's consent to any withdrawal, is affirmed, where: 1) in determining whether a cause of action arises from conduct protected by the statute, the focus is on the wrongful, injurious conduct identified in the complaint, and whether that conduct comes within the statute's description of protected conduct; 2) unless the wrongful conduct is communicative in character, it is protected by the statute only if it was undertaken in connection with an issue of public importance; and here, 3) because the withdrawal of funds underlying the causes of action at issue was neither communicative nor related to an issue of public interest, the trial court properly denied a motion to dismiss those causes of action.

[06/26] Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co.
In an action brought under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) alleging that defendant-employer failed to reasonably accommodate plaintiff's physical disability and refused to rehire him in retaliation for plaintiff's having filed a workers' compensation claim, the Court of Appeal's decision holding that plaintiff's action was barred by the doctrines of after-acquired evidence and unclean hands based on the defendant-employer's later discovery that plaintiff had used another man's Social Security number to gain employment with defendant, is reversed and remanded, where: 1) Senate Bill No. 1818, which extends state law employee protections and remedies to all workers "regardless of immigration status," is not preempted by federal immigration law except to the extent it authorizes an award of lost pay damages for any period after the employer's discovery of an employee's ineligibility to work in the United States; and 2) contrary to the Court of Appeal's holdings, the doctrines of after-acquired evidence and unclean hands are not complete defenses to a worker's claims under California's FEHA, although they do affect the availability of remedies.

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