A Woman’s Place is on the Expert Witness Stand

Author: Emilia Arutunian

“Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”[1]   Although difficult to conceptualize, not too long ago, women did not have the opportunity to do what they love.  Even today, many women struggle to do what they love freely.  In addition to attorneys, female civil litigation experts bring a unique experience and perspective regarding equal opportunity in the legal field.

Tyson & Mendes Appellate Win In Arizona

Author: Arman Nafisi, Lynn Allen

Tyson & Mendes Arizona Partner Lynn Allen and associate Arman Nafisi obtained a significant appellate win in Arizona in September. In this case, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of agent Manny DeMiguel on plaintiffs’ claims for damages resulting from DeMiguel’s alleged failure to procedure adequate underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage on plaintiffs’ vehicle.

Division II Affirms Trial Court’s Award of Attorney Fees for Defendant’s Pre-Litigation Bad Faith Misconduct in Timber Trespass Case

Author: David Reeve

Washington’s timber trespass statute, RCW 64.12.030, provides, in short, that any person found to have cut down, girdle, or otherwise injure any tree or shrub on the land of another person without lawful authority, in an action against the person committing the trespass, shall be liable for treble the amount of damages claim or assessed. What the statute doesn’t provide for is attorney fees. See, e.g., Beckman v. Spokane Transit Auth., 107 Wn.2d 785, 788, 733 P.2d 960 (1987) citing RCW 64.12.030.

Supreme Court Holds Department of Labor and Industries is Exempt from Statutes of Limitation, Even When Seeking Damages for Benefit of an Individual

Author: Kyle Jones

In 2009, Basilio Cornelio Carrera was working for Bent Hartley Farms as a seasonal laborer sorting and packing onions.  He received safety training from a third party contractor known as Sunheaven.  Later in 2009, Carerra’s job changed from sorting and packing onions to sweeping the farm warehouse.  He received no additional safety training when he changed jobs.

Appointed Defense Counsel Should Disclose Relationships With Insurance Companies To Insureds

Author: Colin Hutchinson-Flaming

The Supreme Court of Washington recently affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary action brought by insureds against their appointed defense counsel. The primary allegation was that appointed defense counsel failed to disclose the “long-standing relationship between the law firm had with the insurance company” and for failure by plaintiff to establish any damages. However, in the opinion, the Court’s discussion has arguably created a duty of appointed insurance defense attorneys to disclose, and in some cases obtain a written waiver from insureds, that the firm also represents the same insurance company in unrelated matters.   

Optimizing Use Of Damages Experts In Multi-Defendant Lawsuits

Author: Emily Straub

Multi-party litigation provides co-defendants with an opportunity to optimize the use of damages experts. Such environment, by its nature, necessarily encourages joint expert retention and fee sharing. Why? No defendant wants multiple repetitive expert opinions on damages – it is a waste of time and it will bore the jury. Additionally, no defendant wants to take the chance of there being divergent defense expert opinions on damages. Competing opinions could undermine the credibility of all defense opinions on a particular subject simply because they are not unified. Opinion considerations aside, the sheer cost of damages experts provides great incentive to share in their fees. But coordinating joint retention and fee sharing can be a challenge at times. Here are some suggestions to streamline such an arrangement.

Nevada Supreme Court Confirms NRCP 16.1 “Computation of Damages” Requirement Applies to Future Medicals

Author: Tom McGrath

Nevada’s Rules of Civil Procedure closely mirror federal court civil procedural rules.  Nevada Rule of Civil Procedure 16.1 generally requires parties to serve initial disclosures of witnesses and exhibits without awaiting a discovery request from other parties.  And NRCP 16.1(a)1(C) requires parties to provide with their initial disclosures, “a computation of any category of damages claimed by the disclosing party.”

Florida Case Law Update

Author: Emily Berman

Richard DeLisle v. Crane Co., et al.[1] (July 2017)

The Florida Supreme Court is set to revisit the standard by which expert witnesses are qualified.  Specifically, the Court is considering the Legislature’s proposed change to the state’s evidence code to now require what is known as the Daubert standard instead of the Frye standard, which the Court has favored for decades.[2]

Florida Supreme Court: Equitable Subrogation Comes with Strings Attached

Author: Craig Cox

Every decent Torts 101 book devotes some portion to discussing the idea that when a person causes harm to another (the “victim”), and the “victim” is then further harmed while in the process of treating for the initial harm, the “victim” can recover damages for the subsequent harm from the first tortfeasor, even if the initial tortfeasor did not directly cause the subsequent harm. However, if the subsequent harm was caused by the negligence of a third person, for instance a medical doctor, the initial tortfeasor may then seek contribution from the subsequent tortfeasor for the portion of the harm caused by the subsequent tortfeasor’s negligence.

No Free Bites: Florida’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Statute

Author: Tracey Angelopoulos

Earlier this year, the Insurance Information Institute reported the number of dog bite claims across the United States in 2016 had increased by 18% from the previous year.  California had the highest number of reported claims, followed by Florida.  In 2016, insurance companies received 1,325 dog bite claims in Florida.  The average cost per claim was $37,339, and the total claims paid added up to $49.5 million.  (See Background on: Dog bite liability, by Insurance Information Institute, available here.)  Given these figures, insurance adjusters would be wise to familiarize themselves with dog-bite laws in Florida.

California Case Law Update

Author: Probal Young

ADA/SERVICE ANIMALS

Joey Miller, Plaintiff and Appellant v. Fortune Commercial Corp., et al., Defendants and Respondents (September 12, 2017, 2017 WL 4003420)

Facts:

In 2012, plaintiff Miller acquired “Roxy,” a German Shepherd-Labrador Retriever dog.  Miller’ step father had intended Roxy to be Miller’s service dog, given Miller’s affliction with autism and an intellectual disability.  In 2012, Miller was 20 years old, with an IQ of a 9- to 12-year old boy.

When is the Open and Obvious Doctrine a Complete Defense?

Author: Leslie Price

A recent decision of the Court of Appeal decision addressed application of the Open and Obvious Doctrine in a premises liability case.  In Jacobs v. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company (2017) 14 Cal.App.5th 438, 221 Cal.Rptr.3d 701, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of a defendant landowner sued for negligence by a plaintiff who was seriously injured after falling into an empty pool.  If there is an “open and obvious” issue, can the defendant successfully argue there is no triable issue of fact, thereby avoiding a jury trial, or will the court determine “open and obvious” is a jury question to be decided under the doctrine of comparative negligence?

Lost in Translation: Demystifying Consolidation in Multi-Party Litigation

Author: David Kahn

What does it mean when the court consolidates cases?  When separate actions are filed by separate plaintiffs arising out of the same transaction or occurrence, the issue of consolidation is likely to be raised early on by one of the parties or the court.  While the idea sounds simple enough, the wording of the statute itself and the related concepts of “relatedness” and “merger” often creates confusion and doubt among the parties and sometimes the court itself as to what exactly the legal and procedural effect of the consolidation order means and what was intended. 

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