Arizona 2021 Legislative Update

Author: Sitar Bhatt

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

April 2, 2021 9:00am

The Arizona legislature has been in session working on multiple bills which could have potential ramifications in the insurance defense world.  To date, 1,708 bills have been introduced, of which 143 have passed and 70 have been signed.  Below are proposed House and Senate bills of interest.

$15 Million Punitive Damages Award Vacated in Asbestos Injury Case

Author: Roberta E. Nalbandian

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

April 2, 2021 9:00am

On January 27, 2021, the Second District Court of Appeal rendered an opinion regarding the application of punitive damages against a corporation in Morgan v. J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc. Norris Morgan, a construction worker, sued multiple defendants for suffering mesothelioma arising out of his exposure to various products. All defendants except J-M Manufacturing (JMM) settled by the time of trial or shortly thereafter. JMM was the only defendant who proceeded to verdict. Plaintiff established Mr. Morgan was a construction worker who worked in 1970s- 1980s when he was exposed to J-M Transit Pipes manufactured or supplied by JMM during the relevant time period. The jury found JMM to be 45% liable for Mr. Morgan’s injuries, awarding Mr. Morgan and his wife (loss of consortium claim) compensatory damages in the amount of $15,270.501, and an additional $15,000,000 in punitive damages. JMM appealed the judgment regarding punitive damages among other issues.

California’s Supreme Court Opens a Path So Plaintiffs Can Recover Greater Nuclear Verdicts™ Against “Deep Pocket” Defendants

Author: Rob Olson

October 12, 2020 3:11pm

In August 2020, California’s Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion and created a significant exception to California Proposition 51 (“Prop 51”). The result of this new exception means a single defendant could be responsible for the entire non-economic damages award, even if a jury apportioned more fault to other defendants — and the plaintiff. This opinion will likely create a new strategy for the plaintiffs’ bar. We anticipate plaintiffs will begin pleading more intentional tort causes of actions and actively attempting to prove these claims, especially against…

The Importance of Opposing Petitions for Exemption from Arbitration When Plaintiff Has Not Provided any Exhibits to Support a Damage Calculation

Author: Russell D. Christian

October 12, 2020 3:04pm

In 1992, the Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada created the Court Annexed Arbitration (“Arbitration Program”) to provide a “simplified procedure for obtaining a prompt, economical and equitable resolution of certain civil cases.” If utilized properly, the Arbitration Program can be a very cost effective means of resolving cases as it “allows litigants the opportunity to obtain relief outside the formal court setting.” Subject to certain exceptions, all civil cases commenced in the district courts with a probable jury award value of $50,000 or less per plaintiff are subject to the program.

Cultural Sensitivity in the Courtroom

Author: Erick Dimalanta

July 13, 2020 1:26pm

Having practiced in two of the most diverse states for most of my career, I can appreciate the immeasurable benefits of working in diverse legal settings.  I have been fortunate to have practiced law in California for the last 27 years and in the State of Texas since 2012.  Indeed, the collective experience of dealing with people from different backgrounds truly enhances our system of legal jurisprudence.  One aspect that must not be ignored…

The Inevitable Rise in Employment Discrimination Cases in Response to Recent Police Misconduct

Author: Orlando Arellano

July 13, 2020 12:05pm

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, was killed (some would say murdered) while in police custody.  This was obviously not the first act of police misconduct against a person of color that received national attention.  Many other incidents can be recalled including those involving Rodney King in 1991, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown in 2014, Freddie Gray in 2015, and Philando Castile in 2016.

Telemedicine: An Invaluable Weapon During the COVID-19 Crisis

Author: Emily Straub

April 10, 2020 4:18pm

Daily news about the ever-rising statistics on COVID-19 cases and deaths is a constant reminder we are all vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus. While we do not yet have a vaccine to combat this pandemic, telemedicine (a.k.a., “telehealth”) has proven to be a crucial weapon in fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Recent Discovery in Injuries Stemming from “Vaping”

Author: Rachel Donnelly

February 3, 2020 10:00am

The electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette, allows people to enjoy the behavioral aspects of smoking, including the hand-to-mouth action of smoking with without burning tobacco. Using an e-cigarette is commonly known as “vaping.” When someone vapes, the battery-operated e-cigarette heats liquid into a vapor which can be inhaled. The vapor may contain nicotine (the addictive drug in tobacco), flavoring, and other chemicals.

Big Steps Taken Toward Getting Self-Driving Semi-Trucks On the Road

Author: Bryan D. Scholnick

Guest Editor: Terra Affourtit

July 8, 2019 9:51am

This may not be first steps on the moon; however, on June 16, 2019, a heavy-duty commercial truck drove along Florida’s Turnpike with no driver inside.  The truck successfully drove 9.4 miles navigating a rest area, merging onto the highway, changing lanes, and keeping a speed of 55 mph. The entire 9.4 mile journey can be watched on YouTube.  The company behind this feat is Starsky Robotics.  The semi-truck was initially driven remotely.

Let Talk About Elevators – That‘s Right, Elevators

Author: Bryan D. Scholnick

April 10, 2019 10:13am

A few years ago, National Public Radio discussed the similarities between elevators and autonomous vehicles.  (Remembering When Driverless Elevators Drew Skepticism, Morning Edition, NPR, July 31, 2015.) This discussion centered on how the automatic passenger elevator took over 50 years to become what it is today – not even a second thought about getting in and going.  Originally, elevators required operators to guide…

Robocop: Will Driverless Police Vehicles be Rolling Out Soon?

Author: Codie Dukes

October 12, 2018 2:00pm

Autonomous driving technology has entered the fast lane in recent years. Beginning with automated vehicles manned with a driver, and most recently driverless taxis, is Robocop next? If Ford Motor Company has its way, autonomous police cars will be hitting the pavement soon.

Will Statistical Analysis Be Necessary to Assert the Sudden Emergency Doctrine in Cars Equipped with Autonomous Vehicles?

Author: Bryan D. Scholnick

October 12, 2018 2:00pm

In Washington, and in many other states, defendants in a car accident can assert that they were “suddenly confronted by an emergency through no negligence of his or her own and who is compelled to decide instantly how to avoid injury and who makes such a choice as a reasonably careful person placed in such a position might make, is not negligent even though it is not the wisest choice.”  WPI 12.02.  The sudden emergency doctrine…

Defenses in Autonomous Vehicle Litigation

Author: Rachel Donnelly

October 12, 2018 2:00pm

Just as autonomous vehicles are in their early stages, so is litigation involving autonomous vehicles. Although potential theories of liability have not been completely fleshed out in court, it is a safe bet we can expect the plaintiffs’ bar to bring negligence, product liability, and statutory claims. Autonomous vehicle manufacturers are currently testing different defenses, and autonomous vehicle manufacturers are expected to start creating…

Washington State May Be Creating a New Type of Insurance Product; The Hybrid Auto-Manufacturing Liability Policy

Author: Bryan D. Scholnick

July 16, 2018 9:00am

Generally, when we hear about autonomous vehicles, we hear about the innovations and strides being made by companies like Uber, Apple, Microsoft, and Google.  Other than Tesla, it is rare we hear news about the traditional automakers performing vehicle testing: the Big Three of their respective regions.  There is no doubt these companies will quickly start marketing and selling their branded autonomous vehicle.  If they plan to start doing…

Autonomous Vehicles in San Diego – New Regulations and What it Means for Manufacturers and Insurers in California

Author: Jeremy Freedman

July 16, 2018 9:00am

When driving the roads of San Diego it is easy to overlook autonomous vehicles (“AV”), the hazards attendant with new technology on our roads, and what it means to us. Indeed, there has been little coverage on AV testing or incidents here in San Diego. With the recent coverage of AV incidents in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and more recently Phoenix, San Diego has quietly hidden under the radar. However, beginning as early as 1997, San Diego…

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