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Articles Posted in Premises Accidents

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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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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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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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When people are injured in accidents because of the negligence of others, they are entitled to recover damages for their economic and noneconomic losses. However, in cases involving multiple defendants, the jury may allocate different percentages of fault to each defendant. The defendants will then be responsible for paying their percentage of fault for the noneconomic losses. In Schreiber v. Lee, Cal. Ct. App., Case No. A149969, the California Court of Appeal considered a case involving multiple defendants and the apportionment of fault when the plaintiff settled with some of the defendants before trial for more than what the jury awarded to the plaintiff at trial.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Stephen K. Lee built a three-unit apartment building with the units above garages. When he constructed the building, he installed skylights in the floors of the decks of the apartments to allow light into the garages. Marthe Schreiber had lived in one of the units since 1980. Because she was concerned that the skylight in her deck’s floor was unsafe, she had never walked on it. She installed flower boxes around its perimeter to keep visiting children off of the skylight. In 2013, Schreiber was working with her employee to plant flowers in the boxes around the skylight. She tried to hand the worker a six-pack of flowers by reaching across the length of the skylight. When she did so, she lost her balance and fell through the skylight, suffering serious injuries.

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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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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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People who are seriously injured when they are visiting the property of others may be able to recover damages from the property owners or possessors in some cases. In some instances, injured plaintiffs may be able to reach defendants that are national companies or organizations. However, as Barenborg v. Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B289766, some defendants may not be vicariously liable for the actions of chapters that are run independently.

Factual background of the case

Sigma Alpha Epsilon is a national fraternal organization with more than 13,000 members and chapters at universities and colleges across the nation. The organization has bylaws that local chapters are supposed to follow, but each local chapter independently manages its own affairs and has its own bylaws. The California Gamma chapter was located at the University of Southern California. It had committed multiple violations in the past and occasionally held parties on Thursdays in violation of the organization’s rule that there should be no parties on Monday through Thursday.

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Many California businesses ask their patrons to sign waivers of liability when the patrons use their facilities. These waivers are especially common in recreational businesses such as gyms. While these waivers may absolve companies of liability when people are injured, they do not offer absolute protection to the businesses. In cases in which juries find that the actions of the businesses amounted to negligence per se or gross negligence, the companies may still be liable to pay damages despite the waivers. In Ziegler v. The Bay Clubs Company, LLC, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court case no. BC638802, a plaintiff prevailed in her negligence claim against a gym despite having signed a waiver of liability.

Factual background of the case

Patricia Ziegler, a 71-year-old retired woman, visited the Bay Clubs Company’s gym in El Segundo on Jan. 31, 2016. While she was walking through the gym, she attempted to take a shortcut between two treadmills. People at the gym often took a shortcut between the treadmills instead of walking the long way around on the aisles. The gym had a metal wireway on the floor between the treadmills that was approximately six inches by six inches. The wireway had an unsecured lid. While Ziegler was walking through the area, her foot caught underneath the lid, causing her to fall. She fractured and dislocated her elbow and filed a lawsuit against the company for her injuries, alleging negligence per se and gross negligence. The plaintiff allegedly had signed a waiver of liability when she joined the gym.

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Mop bucket and caution sign

California companies have a duty of care to keep their premises in reasonably safe conditions for their visitors. (NOTE: For a full summary of California law on accident and injury claims on commercial property, click here). There are limits to this duty of care, however. In Peralta v. The Vons Company, Cal. Court of Appeals, case no. B282130, the extent of the duty of care owed to visitors was explored.

Background of the case

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