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Every state, including California, has statutes of limitations that govern when legal claims must be filed. The medical malpractice statute of limitations is three years from the date of the injury or one year from the date that the plaintiff learns that he or she has been injured or reasonably should have learned about the injury. However, the delayed discovery rule provides an exception to the statute of limitations in cases in which a person’s discovery of his or her injury’s cause is delayed for some period after the incident. In Brewer v. Remington, Cal. Ct. App., Case No. F076467, the court considered whether the delayed discovery rule applied when a woman became paralyzed after a routine surgery and subsequently sought treatment from a neurological surgeon.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Judith Brewer had carpal tunnel and shoulder surgery performed on April 22, 2013, at Doctors Medical in Modesto, California. The doctors who performed the surgical procedures were Drs. Bedi and Pistel. The morning after her surgery, Brewer suffered from paralysis and lost sensation in her arms and legs. She returned to Doctors Medical and had an MRI performed. The MRI revealed that she suffered from central cord syndrome, paraplegia, and incontinence and needed a cervical discectomy and extensive rehabilitation. Dr. Benjamin J. Remington saw Brewer on April 24, 2013. He noted in her chart that the functioning of Brewer’s lower extremities had further declined. Instead of performing an emergency spinal decompression procedure, Remington chose to wait to perform the surgery until May 30, 2013, to allow the swelling to go down.

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In most cases, people who participate in sports are barred from recovering damages because of a legal doctrine called the primary assumption of the risk. Under this doctrine, people are considered to have assumed the risk of participating in inherently dangerous sports. However, as the case of Summer J. v. United States Baseball Federation, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B282414 and B285029, an exception might apply, depending on the role played by the defendant.

Factual and procedural background

On Aug. 17, 2014, Summer J., a 12-year-old girl, was a spectator at the national team trials for U.S. Baseball at Blair Field, which is located on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. She was sitting in the grandstand, which was not protected by netting. When Summer’s attention was distracted away from the game, a player struck a line drive foul ball, hitting her in the face. Summer suffered serious injuries, including damage to her optic nerve. She filed a lawsuit against U.S. Baseball, the City of Long Beach, and the university, alleging premises liability and negligence.

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General contractors in California will generally not be liable for injuries that are suffered by the employees of their subcontractors while they are working at construction sites. However, if the general contractors exercise control over the safety practices in the working area where the accidents happen, they may be liable to pay damages to the injured workers. In Torres v. Design Group Facility Solutions, Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B294220, the court considered a case in which the employee of a subcontractor was injured while he was working.[1] It looked at whether the court erred in granting a motion for reconsideration and a motion for summary judgment at the same time without giving the plaintiff a chance to respond.

Factual and procedural background

Design Group Facility Solutions was hired as the general contractor for an expansion and renovation project of a seafood factory. The company subcontracted with C&L Refrigeration for the installation of new refrigeration units. C&L Refrigeration hired H.J. Vast to complete the electrical work. Ismael Torres was employed by H.J. Vast.

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In California, companies that hire independent contractors to perform work are only liable to the independent contractors’ employees in limited circumstances. In Alaniz v. Sun Pacific Shippers, LP, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B2920013, the California Court of Appeals reviewed a case in which an employee of an independent contractor was injured while he was working on the premises of a company to determine whether the jury instructions that the court gave were accurate or if they introduced prejudicial error against the defendants.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Jesus Alaniz was an employee of Navarro Trucking, which was contracted with Sun Pacific Shippers to deliver empty orange and apple bins to an orchard owned by Sun Pacific. In Feb. 2012, Alaniz delivered a truckload of bins to the orchard. A man named Roberto Reynosa, who as an employee of a different independent contractor named J. Antonio Rosa Lule, drove a forklift with the responsibility of unloading the bins from Alaniz’s truck.

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California employers are liable for their employees’ negligent actions while they are operating in the scope and course of their jobs and injure or kill others. However, employers are not liable for the negligence of their employees when the workers are commuting to or from their jobs with limited exceptions. In Bingener v. City of Los Angeles, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B291112, the court looked at the exceptions to the coming and going rule to determine whether the employer of a negligent worker who struck a pedestrian while commuting to work fell under an exception to the coming and going rule or whether the rule applied, absolving the employer of liability.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Kim Rushton was a 68-year-old man who worked as a chemist in a water lab for the City of Los Angeles to test water samples for organic molecules. Rushton had been employed in his job for more than 20 years. He received medical treatment for several medical conditions, including occasional seizures, neuropathy in his feet, and tremors that were controlled with medications. In Dec. 2014, Rushton fell at his job and remained off from work until Feb. 2015 because of his fall-related injuries. He was allowed to return to work on Feb. 2, 2015, with restrictions on kneeling, squatting, and bending. He was also restricted from sitting or standing for longer than four hours. The doctor did not place any restrictions on his ability to drive, however. On Feb. 20, 2015, Rushton was given an injection of steroids to ease his back pain.

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sexual-abuse-attorneySexual abuse is a prevalent problem in youth sports. Many people have heard about the pervasive sexual abuse that was perpetrated against Olympic gymnasts by a gymnastics doctor. In Brown v. USA Taekwondo, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B280550, the court considered whether organizations could be held to be responsible for the sexual assaults and abuse that are perpetrated by coaches that are certified through the organizations.

Factual and procedural background

Brianna Bordon, Kendra Gatt, and Yazmin Brown were teenagers who took taekwondo lessons from Marc Gitelman, who was certified by USA Taekwondo to coach athletes who wanted to try to be selected for the Olympics. All three girls were 15 or 16 at the time. Gitelman sexually abused all three girls, and he was subsequently arrested and convicted of several felonies.

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California-Car-Accident-AttorneysPeople who negligently entrust their vehicles to others whom they know or should have known are unfit to drive may be liable to pay damages to accident injury victims that are caused by the negligence of the drivers. In Ghezavat v. Harris, Cal. Ct. App., Case No. A154405, the court looked at whether the defendant should have been allowed to supplement the jury instruction on negligent entrustment and whether he could have been found to negligently entrust the vehicle when he was a co-owner who did not have control of the vehicle.

Factual and procedural background

John Harris was a 32-year-old man who was driving a Toyota Tacoma truck on Nov. 7, 2011. While he was driving, he suffered a grand mal seizure, lost control of the vehicle, and struck a car that was occupied by Mahin Dowlati and Ellie Pirdivari. Dowlati and Pirdivari were killed in the accident, and their family members filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both John Harris for negligence and David Harris, his father, for negligent entrustment.

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Under California law, emotional distress is a recognized category of injury that people can suffer and for which they can recover damages when it is negligently or intentionally inflicted by others. In Crouch v. Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana Inc., Cal. Ct. App. No. G055602, the court considered whether statements made by the plaintiff’s grandmother amounted to intentional infliction of emotional distress and whether the grandmother’s employer was liable for the resulting damages.

Factual background of the case

Carra Crouch was a 13-year-old girl who flew from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Georgia with her grandmother, Jan Crouch in April 2006. Jan Crouch worked for Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, and she was in charge of a telethon that was scheduled to occur in Atlanta. Carra was planning to visit her cousins, Nathan and Nick. While they were in route, Carra received a message from a man named Steve Smith, a 30-year-old man who worked for Trinity Christian Center. Carra had previously been introduced to Smith by her two cousins, and Smith told her he hoped that he would get to see her during her visit.

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Residential-Accident-Claims-Attorney-Los-Angeles-300x200When people are injured in California while they are lawfully visiting the premises of others, the property owners or operators may be liable to pay damages. However, the property owners or operators must have known or reasonably should have known about the existence of the hazardous condition. In Jones v. Awad, Cal. Ct. App. No. F077359, the court considered whether a homeowner could be liable for a step that did not meet city building codes when the homeowner had purchased the home after it had been built.

Factual and procedural background of the case

Theresa Jones visited Clyde and Julia Awad’s home in Dec. 2014. While she was there, she left the home through a door to the garage. Outside the door, there was one step that she had to take before she got to the floor of the garage. The step had a piece of carpet attached to it, and there was a welcome mat placed on top of the carpet. As Jones stepped down onto the step, she slipped and fell, injuring her wrist and humerus. Jones said that when she stepped on the rug, it felt like there wasn’t anything underneath it. She said that she believed that it must have slipped, causing her to fall. The Awads’s son was in the garage at the time of Jones’s fall. He testified that he did not see her fall but that the welcome mat was not easily moved and that it was still in its normal position after Jones’s fall.

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Many nursing homes ask residents or their agents to sign arbitration agreements. These agreements state that any disputes between the resident and the nursing home must be handled through the arbitration process. Nursing homes use these types of agreements because arbitration generally favors the companies instead of the plaintiffs, and the homes can avoid the publicity of a trial when arbitration is compelled. However, as the case of Lopez v. Bartlett Care Center, LLC, Cal. Ct. App. No. G056427 shows, some arbitration agreements are unenforceable and may be thrown out by the court, leaving the parties to litigate through the court process.

Factual and procedural background

Irene Lopez was admitted to the Bartlett Care Center, a skilled nursing facility, on Oct. 5, 2016. She had a history of dementia, diabetes, end-stage renal disease, muscle weakness, and other medical problems. Irene Lopez had a brief stay in the hospital at the end of October and was readmitted to the nursing home on Nov. 4, 2016, where she remained until Jan. 15, 2017.

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