California Case Law Updates

Author: Emily Berman

Guest Editor: Leslie Price

May 31, 2018 10:49am

Products Liability-Record $70 Million Punitive Damage Award Pending Appeal

Kuhlmann et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery Appellate Case No. A147945, Court of Appeal, First District

A record high $70 million punitive damages verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit over a defective surgery stapler is up on appeal.  Johnson & Johnson contends the evidence does not support the jury’s finding  the stapler manufacturer acted with malice. If the verdict is allowed to stand, it will be the highest punitive award affirmed by a California court. Johnson & Johnson’s attorneys claim the amount is excessive, as it far exceeds what courts have approved for cases involving far more reprehensible alleged misconduct, such as harm caused by asbestos or the tobacco industry.

Funding Settlements Involving a Minor’s Claim Without Court Approval Can Be Risky

Author: Reece Román

April 18, 2016 9:03pm

You have just settled a personal injury action involving two plaintiffs, a mother and her minor child. The mother executes the settlement agreement, and plaintiffs’ counsel agrees to seek a court order approving settlement of the minor’s claim. However, counsel demands you immediately issue a check for the mother’s claim. It is a common request, particularly in cases where the minor’s injuries are relatively insignificant in comparison to the parents. Indeed, insurers frequently issue checks before the order approving the minor’s settlement is entered. But should you do it?

OCTOBER: California Case Law Updates

October 2, 2015 4:31pm

PERSONAL INJURY Melendrez v. Ameron International Corp., 2015 WL 5453873 Facts: Mary Melendrez and her children (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed a wrongful death action against Ameron International Corp. (“Ameron”), the former

Howell v. Hamilton Meats Analysis Extended to C.C.P. Section 998 Offers

Author: Robert Tyson

June 9, 2015 11:54pm

Howell v. Hamilton Meats strikes again! In the recent Lee v. Silveira case, the court extended the Howell analysis, holding that in order to prevail under C.C.P. Section 998, plaintiff can use only the negotiated rate differential in determining whether he/she obtained a more favorable judgment or award than the statutory offer.

Defending Against Phantom “Hit and Run” UM Claims

Author: Kristi Blackwell

March 3, 2015 6:07pm

One fairly common scenario for uninsured motorist (“UM”) claims involves a report of a phantom “hit and run” vehicle. In defending against the phantom “hit and run” UM claims, it is important for insurance carriers to verify three threshold requirements.

Primary Assumption of Risk Arguments Still Kicking

Author: David Ramirez

February 4, 2015 4:55pm

The primary assumption of the risk doctrine has been used to provide immunity from suits for certain sporting and recreational activities, based on the public policy consideration that such activities are to be encouraged, rather than discouraged. The immunity from suit typically applies so long as the defendant did not do anything to increase the “inherent risk” of the activity.

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