Sheila Baker is Senior Counsel in Tyson & Mendes’ San Diego office. Her practice focuses on the defense of individuals and business entities in a broad range of legal matters. Ms. Baker has extensive and in-depth experience in commercial litigation, personal liability, premises liability, products liability, breach of contract, real estate, as well as commercial and residential construction defect disputes. Her experience also includes professional and medical malpractice, general liability, directors and officers liability, errors and omissions, bad faith, insurance coverage, and subrogation. Ms. Baker has successfully written, argued, and won several motions for summary judgment as well as appeals in the Central District Court.
Ms. Baker received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles and received her J.D. from Southwestern Law School in December 1997. She was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1998.
Sheila enjoys traveling, visiting the islands in Hawaii, taking long walks on the beach with her dog, and spending time with her family and friends.
Until recently, there has been a split of authority in California as to whether the trial court or the arbitrator determines whether the claimant is unable to pay arbitration costs…
Recent case law has changed the amount of taxes title insurers owe. Generally, title insurers pay an annual tax on certain income in lieu of all other taxes. However, a recent decision by the California appeals court changed this. Title insurers must now pay sales tax on office equipment leases.
A nuclear verdict is outrageous and based on fear and anger, not the law. More Nuclear Verdicts™ are being handed down at a higher rate in every state. These verdicts threaten unjust outcomes for defendants around the country. An internet search will produce numerous articles and references to excessive verdicts by California juries, and the question now seems to be how much the next nuclear verdict will be for, not whether there will be another nuclear verdict.
In another step favorable to workers’ rights, the California Supreme Court recently settled a dispute regarding the pay rate for employees when they are denied meal and rest periods. The Court held that an employee is entitled to the equivalent of his or her overtime pay if the employer does not allow its employees to take breaks.
Law 360 – December 23, 2021
The soaring costs of nuclear verdicts have reached a point where transportation companies, product makers and other defendants are more likely to accept responsibility early, hoping to sway juries with their own suggestions of damage amounts and avoid the headline-grabbing awards that have put some in financial straits.
The central issue in any medical malpractice case is whether the medical provider breached the applicable standard of care. The California state appeals court recently clarified the standard of care for a physician in an unpublished case. Generally speaking, the medical standard of care is defined as the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled health care professional, with a similar background and in the same medical community, would have provided under the circumstances that led to the alleged malpractice. The standard of care is only proven by expert testimony, unless the circumstances are such that the required conduct is within the layperson’s common knowledge.
A jury recently awarded $20 million against the City of Exeter in San Luis Obispo County, California in a case involving a 2016 retired police dog which attacked and killed one individual and injured another. The jury verdict fits the mold of the typical Nuclear Verdicts™ plaguing our country. Defense attorneys can utilize methods to prevent these types of verdicts from being handed down if they understand and recognize the mold.
Vicarious liability, the doctrine that imposes liability on a party not directly at fault, is one of the most malleable concepts in California law. Most recently, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Kern County analyzed the reach of two forms of vicarious liability — the peculiar risk doctrine and the nondelegable rule — in the unpublished matter of Ruckman v. Wildwood Farms.
Three verdicts have exceeded a gross verdict or award of $1.5 million in 2021. The following article explores these three Nuclear Verdicts™ and what can be done to avoid the nuclear nature of these verdicts.
Insurance policies often contain a clause stating “related claims” will be considered as a single claim for the purpose of insurance coverage.