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In California, victims of sexual assault and abuse have a right to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers and other parties responsible for what happened. However, when the defendant is a third party that did not cause the abuser’s conduct or the resulting abuse, the court will generally find that no duty exists. There is an exception to this general rule when the third party has a special relationship with either the perpetrator or the victim. In Brown v. USA Taekwondo, Cal. Sup. Ct. Case No. S259216, the California Supreme Court established a two-step framework for determining whether a special relationship and an affirmative duty to protect exists.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Yazmin Brown, Brianna Bordon, and Kendra Gatt trained in taekwondo for the Olympics when they were teenagers. Each of the three athletes was coached by Marc Gitelman and frequently traveled with him to competitions and training events in California and throughout the country. Gitelman sexually abused each of the teens when they traveled to competitions. His abuse continued for several years until he was banned from coaching by USA Taekwondo. Subsequently, Gitelman was convicted of multiple felony sex abuse offenses for his sexual assaults and abuse of the three teen girls.

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California-Swap-Meet-Accident-AttorneysProperty owners owe a duty of care to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors and those who come to their properties for lawful business purposes. They also have a duty to warn people on their premises about dangers that are not open and obvious that could foreseeably cause harm. In Zuniga v. Cherry Avenue Auction, Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. F074802 & F078557, the court considered whether a property owner was liable to a vendor who rented space at a swap meet who was electrocuted when the vendor’s flagpole came into contact with an overhead power line.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Araceli Zuniga and Jose Flores were a couple who married in 2009. Shortly after marrying, the couple began renting space to sell merchandise at the Cherry Avenue Auction, which is an outdoor swap meet in the Los Angeles area that holds events on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vendors pay fees ranging from $25 to $100 to rent space at the swap meets, and vendors erect booths with poles and fabric banners to attract customers.

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construction-site-accident-attorneys-Los-AngelesAt construction sites in California, it is common for several different companies to perform different types of work. When an employee of one company is injured while working on a construction site by a company other than his or her employer, he or she has the right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party while also recovering benefits through his or her employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. In some construction accidents, several third parties may be involved. In Atlas Construction Supply v. Swinerton Builders, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. D076426, the Court of Appeals considered whether one third party had the standing to appeal the trial court’s decision to grant a motion for summary judgment to a codefendant.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Marcelo Devalasco, Sr. was employed by J.R. Construction as a construction worker. J.R. Construction was hired by Swinerton Builders, a general contractor who was working on a residential development in San Diego. Swinerton also hired Brewer Crane & Rigging to perform work on the project. J.R. Construction rented a concrete form that was 10 feet tall and between 300 and 400 pounds from Atlas Construction Supply. Brewer placed the form upright at the worksite without any supporting braces. Devalasco and a second worker climbed the concrete form to change its size. The other worker stepped off of the form, and Devalasco’s weight caused it to be unbalanced. It fell over, crushing Devalasco and killing him.

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California-Personal-Injury-LawsIn California, family members who witness their loved ones’ serious injuries may file claims against the responsible parties for negligent infliction of emotional distress. In the past, the California Supreme Court has held that people must be present at the time of the incidents and witness them before they will have valid claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, technology has advanced since the California Supreme Court established its bright-line rule for NIED cases. Today, family members might observe their loved ones’ injury incidents by video on their smartphones or other mobile devices. In Ko v. Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B293672, the appeals court considered whether virtual presence at the time of an incident was enough to satisfy the California Supreme Court’s physical presence requirement.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Dyana and Christopher Ko were the parents of three children. Their youngest child, Landon, was born with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. The Kos both worked outside of the home and contracted with Maxim Healthcare Services to provide an in-home health care aide to care for Landon when they were at work or elsewhere. One of the in-home workers who was sent by Maxim to work in the Kos’ home with Landon was named Thelma Manalastas. After Manalastas had provided care for Landon for a year, the Kos went with their older two children to a basketball tournament on April 22, 2017.

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People who suffer injuries while they are engaged in recreational activities or sports are generally prevented from recovering damages in a lawsuit by the primary assumption of the risk doctrine. However, this doctrine does not apply when a defendant’s actions increase the risks beyond what is normal for the sport or intentionally injures someone else. In Szarowicz v. Birenbaum, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. A156312, the appeals court considered a case in which the trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on the primary assumption of the risk doctrine.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Michael Szarowicz and Jeremy Birenbaum both participated in a recreational ice hockey league in San Francisco in 2017. The league was a no-contact league, meaning that the players were prohibited from body-checking one another. During a recreational hockey championship game on Jan. 30, 2017, Birenbaum and Szarowicz were on opposing teams. The league that their teams played in was for teams of the next to lowest skill level. Szarowicz’s team, the Icehounds, was ahead by five points during the final minutes of the game. The puck shot across the ice towards the bench where the players sat, and Szarowicz followed it. He intended to hit it toward the opposing team’s goal. Birenbaum had been guarding the goal when he took six strides across the ice towards Szarowicz. As Szarowicz turned to hit the puck, Birenbaum collided with him, causing him to be tossed into the air and fall to the ice. He was knocked unconscious for a few moments but was eventually able to get up and to be helped off of the ice. He remained on the bench until the game’s end. He was then taken to the hospital and was found to have suffered extensive injuries, including six rib fractures, three fractures in his shoulder, a shoulder dislocation, a sternum fracture, a scapular fracture, and a collapsed lung.

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Many Californians adopt dogs from shelters each year to give them a better life while adding important members to their families. While adopting shelter dogs is admirable, people who adopt dogs should know whether they have a propensity to bite. Unfortunately, dog bites are a prevalent problem. According to Dogbites.org, an estimated 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs each year.[1] In 2019, 48 people were killed in the U.S. in dog attacks. California led the nation in fatal dog bites with nine residents losing their lives. Because of these problems, the state legislature responded by passing a bill that mandates greater responsibilities for shelters to track and report dogs that bite. This law is meant to help people make better-informed decisions when they are searching for dogs to adopt.

What does the law require?

Cal. AB 588 was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Newsome on Oct. 2, 2019. It was effective immediately. Under this law, animal shelters must provide people with the history of their dogs at the time that they adopt them, including information about whether the dogs have bitten people in the past. Dog bites that have broken through the skin must be reported, and animal shelters and rescue agencies must provide details of the circumstances that surrounded the bites. Any person buying or adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue agency must sign a paper acknowledging that they have been informed about the dog’s history of biting.

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Stairway-Accident-Claims-Attorneys-300x200In California, landlords owe a duty of care to their tenants to keep their premises relatively free from dangerous conditions so that their tenants will be protected from injury. However, some landlords include exculpatory clauses in their leases that purport to immunize them from liability. While these types of clauses are invalid in residential leases, there are certain situations in which they may be valid in commercial leases. In Garcia v. D/AQ Corp., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B305555, the appeals court considered whether an exculpatory clause in a commercial lease prevented an injured plaintiff from seeking to recover damages for his injuries.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Richard Garcia owned an office furniture business. In 2009, he signed a commercial lease agreement to lease premises for his business in Gardena, California. The lease contained a clause that said that the lessor would not be liable for personal injuries that might be suffered by Garcia or others that might result from conditions on the premises. The original property owner sold the building to Feit South Bay LLC in 2012. Feit hired D/AQ Corp. to manage the property. The term of the original commercial lease was extended to Dec. 2014 in 2012. Garcia and D/AQ Corp. signed another agreement to extend the lease to Dec. 2017 in Oct. 2014. Garcia inspected the property two times in 2009 before he signed the original lease and continuously occupied the building from 2009 to 2017.

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Under California’s premises liability laws, California property owners owe a duty to keep their premises safe and to warn visitors of hazards in most cases.[1] However, when people are permitted to enter the land to participate in a recreational activity, the landowners are immune from liability. The immunity from liability does not apply in cases in which the landowners expressly invite others to enter their land, however. InHoffman v. Young, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B292539m the appeals court considered whether an invitation by a property owner’s son to a friend to come to his parents’ home was enough to overcome his parents’ liability after his friend was injured.[2]

Factual and procedural background

Mikayla Hoffman was invited by her 18-year-old friend, Gunner Young, to Gunner’s parents’ home. At the time, Gunner still lived with his parents, and Mikayla was a minor. Young drove to Hoffman’s house and loaded her motorcycle in his truck for her. He then drove her to his home. On some of his parents’ land next to his home, the Youngs had built a motocross track. Young and Hoffman road their motorcycles on the track together. Young collided with Hoffman’s motorcycle, causing her to suffer serious injuries. Hoffman’s parents filed a lawsuit against Young and his parents.

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California-Concert-Accidents-AttorneysSummer music festivals are popular in California. Unfortunately, some people are seriously injured or die at concerts because of heat exhaustion, drug overdoses, and other issues. In Dix v. Live Nation Entertainment Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. 289596, the appeals court considered whether an entertainment company that held a music festival owed a duty to protect concertgoers from the risk that they would overdose on illegal drugs.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Katie Dix was a 19-year-old woman who attended the Hard Summer Music Festival on Aug. 1, 2015. The concert, called Hard Fest, was put on by Live Nation Entertainment. To secure permits for the festival, Live Nation built multiple structures, including several medical structures and cooling stations throughout the location where the festival would be held. A safety protocol booklet was written that recognized that some concertgoers would likely bring illegal drugs to the concert to consume and distribute. Concertgoers had to enter through security gates to get into the festival. At the gates, security personnel patted down each person and checked their waistbands and the insides of their shoes to ensure that they did not have drugs. Concertgoers could deposit contraband, including illegal drugs, in contraband boxes at the entry areas without getting in trouble.

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Road-Construction-Accident-Attorneys-CaliforniaIn California, road construction zones can be dangerous to motorists and construction crews. While most accidents that happen in road construction zones are caused by motorists, it is possible for the road construction companies to be responsible. In

Shipp v. Western Engineering, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. C087371, the California Court of Appeals considered a case in which a motorist alleged that the road construction contractor owed him a duty of care to safely control traffic traveling through a construction zone.[1]

Factual and procedural background

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