Torts

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Wife getting a divorce revealed private sensitive formation about husband to her investigator who relayed the information to an agent.  This decision holds that the disclosure of the sensitive information was closely enough related to the divorce proceedings to be protected conduct under CCP 425.16(e).  The sensitive information related to possible financial misdealing that wife wanted the investigator to look… Read More

A Controller notice of noncompliance under CCP 1576 is not a prerequisite to a false claims action for failre to report (reverse false claim) and pay (conversion) unclaimed property to the State of California.  The complaint in this case adequately alleged that cashier's checks were similar written instruments to money orders and thus that the banks had an obligation to… Read More

Under a manuscript endorsement, Yahoo's insurance policy provided covereage for “injury . . . arising out of . . . [o]ral or written publication, in any manner, of material that violates a person’s right of privacy.”  This decision holds that the "restrictive relative phrase" "that violates a person's right of privacy" might under standard rules of English usage and the… Read More

In this case involving a slip-and-fall on a sidewalk on defendant's property, the trial court erred in granting the defendant summary judgment under the trivial defect doctrine.  Defendant failed to meet his initial burden of showing the discontinuity of pavement was a trivial defect, providing only a declaration that stated the conclusion that the separation was less than an inch… Read More

A shopping center landlord was not entitled to immunity from an independent contractor's personal injury suit under Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689 because the landlord did not hire the contractor.  A shopping center tenant did.  Also, the landlord did not delegate to the tenant the landlord's responsibility for maintaining in safe condition the portion of the premises… Read More

The economic loss rule does not bar a claim for fraudulent inducement to buy a car.  Plaintiffs here alleged that Nissan fraudulently induced them to buy a Nissan Sentra by intentionally concealing facts about its defective transmission which caused dangerous gaps in power to the wheels.  Under the reasoning of Robinson Helicopter Co. v. Dana Corp. (2004) 34 Cal.4th 979,… Read More

Plaintiff was injured in an accident on his Yamaha dirt bike.  He said the authorized Yamaha dealer from whom he bought the bike had installed the throttle mechanism improperly, leading it to fall off the bike, causing the accident.  The jury verdict and judgment in favor of Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., the US distributor of the bike was reversed because… Read More

This decision affirms an order enforcing a settlement agreement that resolved 20 medical malpractice actions--even though the agreement for liquidated damages of $50,000 per month up to a cap of $1.5 million if the defendant failed to timely pay the installments due under the $575,000 settlement amount.  The opinion emphasizes that under Civ. Code 1781(b), which applies to contracts other… Read More

Distinguishing Hernandez v. KWPH Enterprises (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 170, this decision holds that the ambulance EMTs transporting plaintiff from one psychiatric hospital to another owed her a duty of care to prevent her from harming herself.  Hernandez involved a patient who voluntarily asked to be transported to a hospital but then freaked out after she arrived there.  In this case,… Read More

The hirer of an independent contractor may, despite the Privette doctrine, be liable for injuries suffered by the contractor's employees if the hirer furnishes faulty equipment and asks or requires the contractor or its employees to use that equipment.  But not so if the hirer merely allows the contractor or its employees to use the faulty equipment.  In the latter… Read More

The trial court correctly granted the defendant water pipe (hookah) manufacturer judgment on the pleadings against plaintiff's claim that it violated Prop. 65 by failing to warn that if used to smoke marijuana, the hookah would expose the smoker to marijuana smoke that contains carcinogens.  The opinion follows regulations implementing Prop. 65 in holding that the proposition covers only products… Read More

The trial court erred in granting defendant summary judgment based on expiration of the statute of limitations (CCP 340.5) in this medical malpractice case arising from a stillbirth following an operation to turn the fetus to a head-down position for birth.  There was a question of fact as to whether plaintiff subjectively suspected malpractice the day before delivering the stillborn… Read More

During construction of a development in South Lake Tahoe, a worker for a subcontractor slipped on an icy floor, falling from a ladder and injuring himself.  This decision holds that the trial court granted defendant summary judgment based on the Privette doctrine which bars claims by an injured worker for an independent contractor against the hirer of that contractor.  This… Read More

(A school district did not owe students a duty of care to prevent a teacher's husband from entering the classroom and killing her in front of her students, thus causing the students emotional distress.  The husband's violent criminal behavior was not reasonably foreseeable, as he had previously visited his wife at the school without incident.  Also, protecting against this sort… Read More

(The Federal Tort Claim Act's discretionary function immunity did not shield the United States from liability for the alleged conduct of its employees in maliciously instigating false state court criminal charges against plaintiff (in retaliation for her whistleblowing).  The employees' alleged conduct in knowingly lying under oath, tampering with witnesses, or fabricating evidence to support the false criminal charges had… Read More

Under Civil Code 846, landowners are generally immune from liability for personal injuries suffered by persons entering their property for recreational use. There is an exception to that immunity if the plaintiff was "expressly invited rather than merely permitted to come upon the premises by the landowner."  This decision holds that despite the statutory wording, immunity is lost if the… Read More

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