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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[05/21] Diaz-Barba v. Super. Ct.
In a dispute alleging tortious interference with contract and related claims for the sale of an interest in a Mexican real estate development venture, the trial court's grant of plaintiffs' motion to lift the stay on the California proceedings is affirmed where Mexican courts dismissed two separate suits plaintiffs filed in that country, making it an unavailable alternate forum.

[05/21] Rosas v. BASF Corp.
In a suit brought by an employee who developed lung disease from his work in a food flavoring plant, the trial court's grant of summary judgment to employer-defendant is reversed where the evidence is susceptible to more than one legitimate inference, and that it is a question of fact for the jury to determine whether the facts known to plaintiff before November 2006 were enough to put a reasonable person on inquiry notice that his lung disease was caused by the wrongful act of another.

[05/20] Kabran v. Sharp Memorial Hosp.
In a suit for negligence arising out of the alleged mishandling of a patient-plaintiff by an occupational therapist, the trial court's order granting plaintiff's motion for new trial following a special verdict on a cause of action for medical malpractice in which the jury found the hospital was negligent in the care and treatment of plaintiff's predecessor, is affirmed where: 1) no jurisdictional defect appears in the court's new trial order and, as a result, hospital-defendant may not raise its appellate contentions as to the motion's timeliness for the first time on appeal; and 2) the trial court did not manifestly abuse its discretion in assessing the new evidence -- results of an autopsy conducted on plaintiff -- and ruling on this record that plaintiff should be granted a new trial.

[05/20] Paluck v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs.
In the government's appeal of a decision by the Court of Federal Claims setting aside a special master's findings of fact and conclusions of law and granting entitlement to compensation under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, 2 U.S.C. sections 300aa-1 to -34, the judgment is affirmed where the special master's findings contained unsupported inferences and the Court of Federal Claims did not exceed their authority by reweighing the evidence.

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Workers' Comp

[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.

[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.

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