How Defense Counsel Can Take a Bite Out of Potential Nuclear Verdicts™

Author: Sheila Baker

November 18, 2021 10:53am

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.

Tennessee Supreme Court Holds Damage Cap on Noneconomic Damages Limits Recovery

Author: William Johnson

Guest Editor: Grace Shuman

October 29, 2021 9:00am

Noneconomic damages often make up a large portion of Nuclear Verdicts™.  Defense attorneys will be happy to know there is a new interpretation of “damage cap” at play in Tennessee after the ruling in Yebuah v. Ctr. for Urological Treatment, PLC.[i]  The Tennessee Supreme Court’s ruling is a small step in the right direction for the defense.  In the case, the court reviewed whether the statutory cap on noneconomic damages applies separately to a spouse’s loss of consortium claim pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-39-102, thus allowing each plaintiff to receive an award of up to $750,000 in noneconomic damages.

Medi-Cal Liens Not Preempted by Federal Medicaid Anti-Lien Statute

Author: David Kahn

Guest Editor: Grace Shuman

October 29, 2021 9:00am

Could a Medi-Cal lien for recovery of advanced medical expenses be pre-empted by federal law?  This was the issue recently decided by the Second District Court of Appeal in L.Q. v. California Hospital Medical Center.[i]  The case involves the conflict between federal and state law on whether a state’s Medicaid program can legally claim a lien against a beneficiary’s personal injury settlement without violating the anti-lien provision in the federal Medicare Act.  The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and held the state Medi-Cal lien was valid, allowing recovery of the portion of the settlement proceeds to be attributable to past medical care paid for by Medi-Cal.

California Appellate Courts Hold Statutory Immunity Bars Treble Damages Claims

Author: Edward Lester

Guest Editor: Grace Shuman

October 29, 2021 9:00am

California enacted Assembly Bill-218 on October 14, 2019, amending Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1.  In doing so, California greatly expanded damages awards available to childhood sexual assault victims, including treble damages against entities that engage in “covering up” childhood sexual assault.  One of the principal byproducts of the reform legislation is treble damages claims may be erroneously asserted against public school districts in childhood sexual assault cases.  In two recent decisions, California’s appellate courts have vigorously reaffirmed the traditional rule that statutory sovereign immunity under Government Code section 818 bars liability for treble damages claims brought against public entities under Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1.

A Recent California Case Reminds Us of the Importance of Motions in Limine

Author: Kelley Harman

Guest Editor: Grace Shuman

October 29, 2021 9:00am

A strategic and thoughtfully prepared motion in limine can allow a party to assert control over the facts that will be presented to a jury and are a commonly used tool for raising evidentiary issues relating to expert witness testimony.  A successful motion in limine can shape the course of a trial. In Valderrama v. Beautologie Cosmetic Surgery, Inc., the use of thoughtful motions in limine to preclude irrelevant testimony and prevent plaintiffs’ experts from relying on the irrelevant testimony, allowed defendants to succeed at trial.

Discovery Abuse May Have Cost Defendant $120 Million

Author: Cynthia Speegle

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

October 4, 2021 4:40pm

When faced with potentially harmful evidence, it is best to accept responsibility and face the situation head on, instead of playing games and trying to hide evidence. Using tactics like this is not likely to endear the jury to an attorney, and may fuel their anger, leading to larger verdicts.

California’s Evolving Interpretation of Vicarious Liability

Author: Sheila Baker

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

October 4, 2021 4:10pm

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.

California Supreme Court Rejects Third Exception To The Privette Doctrine

Author: Jeremy Freedman

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

All too often, property owners are sued after hiring an independent contractor who 1) causes injuries, or 2) has employees who sustained an injury while performing work. Under the Privette doctrine, such lawsuits would generally be barred under California law doctrine because there is a strong presumption that a property owner who hires an independent contractor delegates all responsibility for workplace safety to the contractor. The Privette doctrine applies even where the property owner was at least partially to blame due its negligent hiring and where the independent contractor is has no employees or workers’ compensation insurance.

California v. Texas: What Does It Mean?

Author: Derek Earley

July 30, 2021 9:00am

In California v. Texas,i the Supreme Court of the United States heldii Texas and other states, as well as two individual plaintiffs, do not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the minimum essential health provision (also known as the “individual mandate”) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).

Update: California District Court Upholds Previous Dismissal of Wife’s COVID-19 Civil Suit

Author: David Kahn

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

June 4, 2021 9:00am

In our April Newsletter, Tyson & Mendes reported a California federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the wife of a construction worker. Plaintiff claimed her husband contracted COVID-19 at work and brought the virus home infecting her as well. Following the dismissal, the district court judge gave plaintiff an opportunity to amend her complaint. At a hearing on May 7, 2021, the court upheld the dismissal without further leave to amend. As of this date, it is unknown whether plaintiff will appeal.

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