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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[10/28] Verdugo v. Target Corp.
Dismissal is affirmed, where a commercial property owner has no common law duty to provide an Automatic External Defibrillator in its stores for use in a medical emergency.

[10/28] Bui v. Nguyen
Following a successful jury trial in plaintiff's favor for injuries arising from negligently performed dental work, but before judgment was entered, plaintiff obtained a permanent injunction against defendant to identify herself as a dental assistant and to refrain from wearing a white lab coat. Plaintiff then filed a post judgment motion for attorney fees pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, which the court granted. The attorney fees award is reversed, where: 1) plaintiff failed to establish that private enforcement was necessary to protect the public from false advertising by defendant; and 2) because necessity of private enforcement is one of the required elements under section 1021.5, the court erred in award attorney fees under that statute.

[10/27] Golodner v. Berliner
In this First Amendment retaliation suit, defendant-officials seek summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity for retaliating against plaintiff for filing an earlier lawsuit against the City and several of its police officers. Denial of summary judgment is affirmed, and the case remanded for continued proceedings, where plaintiff's earlier lawsuit constituted speech that raised matters of public concern by the First Amendment and his right to be free of government retaliation based on such speech was well established at the time of the alleged retaliatory conduct.

[10/24] AmeriGas v. Landstar Ranger
In this personal injury action brought for injuries arising from a propane tank falling on King, a truck driver, while an AmeriGas employee was unloading empty propane tanks from King's trailer. King settled with AmeriGas, who then cross-complained against Landstar, the motor carrier that hired King, for equitable indemnification. Judgement finding Landstar not liable is affirmed, where: 1) there was ample evidence supporting the court's findings that King was a highly experienced truck driver, qualified to transport propane tanks, and that Landstar was therefore not negligent in ensuring that their drivers were adequately trained or experienced pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs); and 2) even if Landstar violated the FMCSRs, such violations did not proximately cause or contribute to King's injuries because the propane tanks were secure and stable during transit and upon arrival at the unloading yard.

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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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