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Significant Cases

County of San Mateo v. Superior Court (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 724
Obtained affirmances of trial court orders denying summary judgment. The case subsequently settled for $47.5 million, reportedly the largest pre-trial settlement ever for a single injured plaintiff in California.

A 12-year-old boy suffered catastrophic polytrauma injuries when a diseased, 72-foot tree fell on him at a campground. The boy’s family had paid the county a rental fee for the campsite. The Court of Appeal held the “consideration” exception to the recreational use immunity abrogated such immunity as to PG&E (which owned an interest in the property), even though PG&E did not receive any portion of the rental fee.

The court later ruled the trial court properly denied the county’s motion for summary judgment based on the natural condition immunity because triable issues of fact existed as to whether the tree was located on “unimproved” property and whether artificial conditions contributed to the dangerous condition of the tree.

Tung v. Chicago Title Co. (2021) 63 Cal.App.5th 784
Won reversal of a nonsuit/judgment on the pleadings in a procedurally and factually complicated real estate fraud case.

Mowatt v. City of Los Angeles (2008) B191465
Successfully defended an $11.8 million judgment against the City of Los Angeles based on the plaintiff’s allegations that a dangerous condition of the city’s road and the city’s failure to warn caused plaintiff’s injury when she was struck by a car as she was crossing the road.

Hass v. RhodyCo Productions (2018) 26 Cal.App.5th 11
Obtained affirmance of trial court denial of summary judgment.

Plaintiffs’ decedent died of a cardiac arrest at the finish line of a half-marathon organized by respondent. The Court of Appeal held (1) the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk did not bar the action because, although cardiac arrest was an inherent risk of long-distance running, death due to the negligent provision of emergency medical services was an extrinsic risk and (2) a triable issue of fact existed as to whether the respondent committed gross negligence, which was not barred by a preinjury release signed by the decedent.

Strouse v. Webcor Construction L.P. (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 703
Won affirmance of a $2.6 million judgment in favor of plaintiff injured while working on the rehabilitation of UC Berkeley Memorial Football Stadium.

Plaintiff, employee of a subcontractor, sued the general contractor on a retained-control theory. The Court of Appeal held that, even assuming the Privette instruction attacked by the general contractor was erroneous, the fact the jury found the subcontractor was not negligent and the general contractor was 100 percent at fault established that the error was harmless.

Estate of Bentley (2019) A153204, A153685, A154546
Won affirmance of probate court orders in three consolidated appeals and an award of $91,000 in sanctions on the ground the appeals were frivolous.

Zertuche v. County of Santa Clara (2015) H040240
Obtained reversal of summary judgment in a case where the plaintiff motorcyclist was injured when he went off the roadway to avoid a collision and encountered a drainage ditch.

The Court of Appeal held the county’s evidence that its files going back several years contained no reports of accidents involving the drainage ditch, while relevant, was not dispositive and was insufficient to carry the county’s initial burden on summary judgment of establishing the absence of a triable issue as to the existence of a dangerous condition.

Shawa v. City of Fairfield (2013) A133377
Won a reversal of a summary judgment for an elderly plaintiff who was injured when she fell at a senior day program operated by the City of Fairfield.

The Court of Appeal held a preinjury release of liability signed by the plaintiff was invalid because the services provided by the city’s program implicated the public interest under Tunkl v. Regents of University of California.

Diemandezi v. RLJ Lodging Trust (2019) A151311
Defended a $1.4 million judgment against an appeal by the defendant claiming the testimony of plaintiff’s safety expert should have been stricken for lack of foundation and an award of future lost earnings was unsupported by evidence.

Spencer v. Safeguard Properties, LLC (2018) A148990
Won reversal of a dismissal following the sustaining of a demurrer.

Plaintiff was shot when he accompanied deputy sheriffs to conduct an eviction at a foreclosed residential property. He sued several defendants, including the bank that had purchased the property in foreclosure. The Court of Appeal reversed when plaintiff represented on appeal that, based on evidence discovered after the dismissal, he could amend his complaint to allege knowledge by the bank of the shooter’s prior violent threats.