BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Feb. 28, 2023) – Marking another high-profile win for national defense firm Tyson & Mendes LLP, California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal recently affirmed the Kern County Superior Court’s granting of a judgment on the pleadings in a high-stakes case against Kern County, which comprises the Bakersfield metropolitan area.
Tyson & Mendes Partner Michael E. Lehman, based in the firm’s Fresno office, represented Kern County in the wrongful death case resulting in an accident in which a bicyclist, John Dominic Staab, was tragically struck and killed by a truck in Bakersfield.
Following the accident, the decedent’s family retained an attorney to represent them in a wrongful death action. The attorney submitted claims to the City of Bakersfield, the State of California and Kern County on behalf of The Estate of Dominic Staab.
According to Lehman, Tyson & Mendes’ client Kern County rejected the claim based upon their assertion that another public entity controlled and maintained the roadway area where Mr. Staab was struck and killed. While the attorney for Mrs. Staab and the Staab’s daughter filed suit against three entities, no claim was ever filed naming Mrs. Staab or the Staab’s daughter as potential claimants.
“A wrongful death action can only be filed by heirs identified in California’s wrongful death statute, CCP 377.60 et seq,” Lehman said. “As a result, the estate could only file a survivor’s action for damages which were incurred before Mr. Staab’s death – since the nature of damages in a wrongful death case is very different than those in a survivor’s action.”
Based on the plaintiff counsel’s failure to file a claim for Mrs. Staab and her daughter, Tyson & Mendes filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the county – and the Kern County Superior Court granted the motion. “Despite the plaintiff’s subsequent appeal, the Fifth District Court of Appeal issued a decision that affirmed the trial court’s original ruling – based on multiple cases that demonstrate a claim filed on behalf of one individual or entity doesn’t satisfy the need to file a claim for a specific, different individual,” Lehman said. “Ultimately, the court rejected all the plaintiff attorney’s arguments in their entirety.”
“While this was a tragic incident, Kern County was not culpable,” he continued, “and because plaintiff’s attorney failed to properly identify the decedent’s wife or daughter as potential claimants, we were able to achieve a successful motion for summary judgment and quickly achieve justice for our client.”
Serving 18 states nationwide, Tyson & Mendes is one of the fastest growing civil defense firms in the U.S. The firm has established itself as a leader in driving down damages awards and reducing the likelihood of Nuclear Verdicts® – often defined as jury awards in excess of $10 million. Using a unique set of proven defense methods, the firm saved clients more than $1.07 billion in 2022.
For more information and to view career opportunities, visit tysonmendes.com.
About Tyson & Mendes LLP
Tyson & Mendes LLP is a nationwide, AV-rated litigation and trial firm specializing in insurance defense and protecting its clients from Nuclear Verdicts®. Robert Tyson and Patrick Mendes founded the firm in 2002 to defend corporations, insurance companies, and their clients in civil litigation matters. The firm has experienced tremendous growth in the past two decades, with offices across the U.S. serving clients in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The firm is most widely recognized for winning the landmark Howell v. Hamilton Meats California Supreme Court case, which forever changed the state’s litigation landscape by significantly impacting the damages a plaintiff may recover. Robert Tyson is also the author of the Amazon Bestseller Nuclear Verdicts®: Defending Justice for All, the first playbook for the defense on how to avoid runaway jury verdicts.
For more information, visit tysonmendes.com.
Ashley Bendas / Jean Walcher, J. Walcher Communications
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