Margarite Sullivan - Associate

Margarite Sullivan is an Associate in Tyson & Mendes’ San Diego Office.  Her practice is primary focused on personal injury, general commercial liability, professional liability, and business litigation.  Ms. Sullivan is an accomplished litigator with experience representing individuals, public entities, and insurance institutions across California.

Ms. Sullivan has successfully resolved a variety of cases involving personal injury, inverse condemnation, and class action disputes.  She frequently resolves matters promptly with well-drafted dispositive motions or protects her clients with oppositions thereto.  When a trucking company attempted to avoid litigation by claiming its employees were independent contractors, Ms. Sullivan established vicarious liability and forced a favorable settlement for a client.  Ms. Sullivan successfully defused a  daunting class-action matter by decertifying a class of plaintiffs claiming exposure to volatile organic compounds.

While earning her J.D. from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Ms. Sullivan spent her summers interning at the San Diego Office of the City Attorney.  She earned her B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Ms. Sullivan is licensed to practice law in California.

In her free time, Ms. Sullivan can be found tending to her succulent garden, conquering the many hiking trails in San Diego, and relaxing with her cats.

Recent Posts

Diversity Demands Intersectionality

In 1851, Sojourner Truth brought to life the rallying cry of American feminists with the now-prolific phrase, “Ain’t I a Woman”.  While feminism has embraced the sentiment that being a woman does not exclude a person from achieving and accomplishing feats generally reserved to men; it has failed to acknowledge the underlying message of Truth’s declaration.  When Truth started toward the stage at a Women’s Rights Conference in…

Damage Awards in California Civil Trials: To Infinity and Beyond?

The recently decided Cobb v. Cty. of Los Angeles (Cal. Ct. App. May 1, 2019) No. B287090, 2019 WL 1929976, is a reminder to defense practitioners in California that chance are slim to none for an appellate reversal of a jury’s damages determination.  This article will provide practice pointers to defense practitioners to avoid runaway juries by exploring the reasons the Appellate Court in Cobb upheld the seemingly outrageous damages award.

Electronic Filing, the “Courts”, and a Claimant Walk into a Bar …

… And Everyone Panics!

As I am sure all California Lawyers are aware, Los Angeles just made the big switch to mandatory electronic filing for Limited Civil on December 3, 2018, and Unlimited Civil on January 2, 2019.  This means all civil filings in Los Angeles County Superior Court must be submitted electronically from now on.  At the end of this article, I will provide hyperlinks to the resources cited as it is very important all practicing attorneys in the state of California know and understand the new rules of the road.

On the Road Again: Overcome Co-Defendant Transportation Companies’ Most Common Motion for Summary Judgment in Personal Injury Actions with This Handy Code of Federal Regulation

Under the Non-delegable Duty Doctrine, a hirer is presumed to have delegated their duties to the independent contractor performing the work unless a relevant statute or regulation prohibits delegation.  (Vargas v. FMI, Inc. (2015) 233 Cal. App. 4th 638, 639.)

Personal Injury Litigation Prediction: Hospital-Induced Delirium, the Next Big Claim

Subjective Complaints in Personal Injury Litigation

Traumatic Brain Injury claims are likely just the beginning of an onslaught of “subjective” injury complaints alleged by plaintiffs in personal injury actions.  I say subjective because currently, there are no scientifically accepted methods to test a person for a traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Sure, you can check imaging results for contusions, lacerations, and changes to the physical structure of the brain; however, approximately 75% of traumatic brain injuries are mild and considered “concussions[1].”  This means many of the TBI claims made by plaintiffs likely cannot be scientifically verified in the same way we can conclusively identify an injury such as a broken bone.  Generally, most patients recover from a mild TBI/concussion; however, some patients experience persisting problems related to their head injury[2]This is where the meat and potatoes for plaintiffs’ attorneys lie:  any reference to loss of consciousness, memory problems, moodiness, headaches, depression, anxiety, and general cognitive issues causes dollar signs to flash before plaintiffs’ attorneys’ eyes.

Sex-Based Stereotyping Endures: Revisiting Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 30 years later

Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989) held that the decision not to promote a woman by giving weight to comments based on stereotypes associated with the woman’s sex was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Defend, Indemnify, and Hold Harmless, Till the Expiration of This Agreement Do Us Part

You just had a matter come across your desk and, of course, one of your first tasks is evaluating the liability exposure of your client.  But sometimes lost in the liability exposure analysis is whether the exposure arose out of the work of a contractor.  Why is this important?  Because you could single-handedly save your client hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, in legal fees by simply identifying possible indemnity contracts between your client and other entities.  In this article I will highlight my favorite ways to use Crawford v. Weather Shield Mfg., Inc. (2008) 44 Cal.4th 541 to protect the businesses and assets my clients worked tirelessly to build.

Indemnity and Non-Delegable Duties: You Can Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!

Caselaw is shockingly sparse when it comes to handling indemnity contracts when a non-delegable duty is involved.  This could be a situation where the answer is obvious, causing the issue to go unchallenged.  I do not like to read between the lines when an opportunity to take full advantage of contractual indemnity presents itself.  Afterall, contractual indemnity can be wonderful gift left by the attorney-drafter for a lucky litigation attorney to find down the road.  This article provides clarification on the interaction of contractual indemnity and non-delegable duties so the gift of a well-drafted contractual indemnity clause can be fully enjoyed.

Beattie, Brunzell, and Hourly Bills

The Court of Appeals of Nevada reminded all Nevada litigators a Nevada Rule of Civil Procedure 68 offer should not be made or rejected lightly. In O’Connell v. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC 134 Nev. Adv. Op. 7 (Nev. App. 2018), Plaintiff was visiting Wynn Las Vegas when she slipped and fell. Wynn offered Plaintiff $3,000 to settle the case despite Plaintiff’s disclosure of $33,000 in medical damages. Plaintiff rejected Wynn’s $3,000 offer and submitted a counter-offer for $49,999, which included interest, costs, and attorney fees.  Wynn rejected the offer and the case proceeded to trial where the jury found in Plaintiff’s favor, assigning 60% liability to Wynn and 40% to Plaintiff and leaving Plaintiff with a $240,000 judgment. Plaintiff then moved for reimbursement of her post-offer fees and costs to the tune of $96,000. Wynn opposed Plaintiff’s motion by arguing Plaintiff’s failure to provide billing records precluded Plaintiff from recovering the post-offer fees and costs. The District Court agreed and Plaintiff appealed.


Extreme Rule Makeover: Going and Coming Edition!

The “going and coming” rule holds an employer is generally not responsible for torts committed by an employee going to or coming from work.  There are two primary exceptions to the going and coming rule:  1) If the employee is explicitly or implicitly required to drive to and from the workplace so the vehicle is available for the employer’s business; and 2) If the use of the employee’s vehicle provides some direct or incidental benefit to the employer.  The Second District Court of Appeal recently turned up the heat on plaintiffs who try to fit their facts into the two main exceptions to the going and coming rule.  Under the going and coming rule, the employment relationship is “suspended” during an employee’s commute to and from work.  However, the “benefit to the employer” exception applies, if the employee has agreed to make the vehicle available as an accommodation to the employer, the employer has reasonably come to rely on the vehicle’s use, and the employer expects the employee to make the vehicle available regularly.  Again, the employee’s agreement may be either express or implied.

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