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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[07/29] Green v. Co. of Riverside
In an action for violation of civil rights and the Fourteenth Amendment under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and wrongful death under California law against the County of Riverside and Riverside County Deputy Sheriffs, arising out of the death of plaintiff's son while in the officers' custody, judgment if favor of defendants is affirmed where: 1) the court properly admitted evidence on the decedent's use of cocaine; 2) any error that resulted from the court's failure to instruct on negligence was harmless; and 3) the court correctly instructed the jury on the mental state required in a Fourteenth Amendment excessive use of force case under section 1983 because this case did not involve reflective decision making by the officers, but instead their reaction to fast-paced circumstances presenting competing public safety obligations.

[07/28] Balintulo v. Ford Motor Co.
In a suit filed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) against various corporations for allegedly aiding and abetting crimes proscribed by "the law of nations" committed during apartheid by the South African government against South Africans within South Africa's sovereign territory, the district court's latest decision in this long-standing litigation is affirmed where: 1) knowledge of or complicity in the perpetration of a crime under the law of nations (customary international law), absent evidence that a defendant purposefully facilitate the commission of that crime, is insufficient to establish a claim of aiding and abetting liability under the ATS; 2) it is not a violation of the law of nations to bid on, and lose, a contract that arguably would help a sovereign government perpetrate an asserted violation of the law of nations; 3) allegations of general corporate supervision are insufficient to rebut the presumption against extraterritoriality and establish aiding and abetting liability under the ATS; and 4) here, plaintiffs' amended pleadings do not establish federal jurisdiction under the ATS because they do not plausibly allege that the defendant companies themselves engaged in any "relevant conduct" within the US to overcome the presumption against extraterritorial application of the ATS.

[07/28] Doe 2 v. Rosa
In a consolidated case under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, involving the sexual abuse of two minor boys by a summer camp counselor, contending that defendant took steps to conceal previous allegations of abuse by the same counselor thereby allowing the perpetrator to continue his abuse of the plaintiffs, and alleging defendant's affirmative duty to protect the victims under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant is affirmed where defendant had no duty to protect the plaintiffs from a pre-existent danger.

[07/27] US v. Chadd
In a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) action brought against the United States alleging claims arising from a fatal mountain goat attack on an Olympic National Park visitor, alleging that Park officials breached their duty of reasonable care by failing to destroy the goat in the years leading up to her husband’s death, the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is affirmed where the FTCA's discretionary function exception applied.

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Workers' Comp

[07/22] Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
In a writ of review challenging the failure of the WCAB to address its claim that the hearing officer failed to adjudicate a deceadent's widow's petition to determine her entitlement to special death benefits under the public employees' retirement system (PERS), Gov. Code section 21537, 21541, the decision of the WCAB upholding the finding of its hearing officer that there was an industrial cause for the death of decedent and the award of a workers' compensation death benefit to widow, is annulled and the matter is remanded with directions to join the PERS Board as a defendant and calculate the coordinated death benefits within each board's purview.

[06/29] Angelotti Chirporactice, Inc. v. Baker
In a suit claiming Senate Bill 863, which was enacted to combat an acute "lien crisis" in its workers' compensation system, violated the Takings Clause, the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution, the district court's judgment is: 1) affirmed as to dismissal of plaintiffs' claims under the Takings Clause and Due Process Clause challenging California Senate Bill 863; 2) vacated as to the grant of preliminary injunction; and 3) reversed as to denial of defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' Equal Protection Clause claim.

[05/28] South Coast Framing, Inc. v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Bd.
In a case in which the family of decedent was awarded workers' compensation death benefits after he died from the combination of drugs prescribed following a fall at work, the Court of Appeal's judgment overturning the award is reversed where there was sufficient evidence that the drugs prescribed for the work injury contributed to the death.

[05/13] Lozano v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Bd.
In a writ of review brought by the widow and children of a deceased firefighter after the WCAB denied reconsideration of the decision of the workers' compensation judge finding that the cancer presumption of Labor Code section 3212.1 did not apply to petitioner's claim, the decision of the WCAB is annulled where an amendment to the Labor Code section 3212.1, enacted by Senate Bill 1271 on February 19, 2008 and effective on January 1, 2009, which would extend the cancer presumption to firefighters like the one in this case, is applicable to the claim for workers' compensation benefits filed on November 3, 2009, because the amendment effected a procedural change, and accordingly the presumption is properly applied in the post-enactment adjudication of this claim.

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