Liability Law

Alcoholic Beverages: Social Host Liability

By on May 18, 2015 - Comments off

Allen v. Liberman, (Third District, June 18, 2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 46, 173 Cal.Rptr.3d 463, 14 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 6675, 2014 Daily Journal D.A.R. 7751

The parents of a 17-year old girl who was found dead from acute ethanol intoxication the morning after sleeping over at a girlfriend’s home, filed an action for wrongful death against the other girl and her parents. The plaintiffs alleged that the decedent had obtained and consumed 15 shots of vodka from the defendants’ bar and that when she began vomiting and passed out, her friend propped her head against toilet, took her cell phone, closed the bathroom door and went to bed. The plaintiffs further alleged that the girl’s father did not check on the decedent the following morning because his daughter had told him she had become sick from drinking but that she was okay.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that the action was barred by Civ. Code, § 1714, subd. (c), which provides that “no social host who furnishes alcoholic beverages to any person may be held legally accountable for damages suffered by that person … resulting from the consumption of those beverages.” (In 2010 the Legislature created an exception to social host immunity, where a parent or other adult knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person whom he or she knows, or should have known, to be under 21 years of age. (§ 1714, subd. (d)(1).) However, the plaintiffs did not contend the new exception applied retroactively.) The plaintiffs opposed the motion, contending that the immunity was inapplicable because the defendants did not actually furnish the alcohol to the decedent. The Plaintiffs also contended that irrespective of the immunity, the defendants breached an independent duty of care to the decedent, failed to exercise reasonable care in rendering aid to her and increased her risk of harm.

The trial court granted summary judgment and the court of appeal affirmed, finding that the action was barred by the statutory immunity, and that the plaintiffs had not established a special relationship under which the defendants had a duty to render such assistance: Read the rest »

Posted in: Liability Law


Premises Liability: Concealed Dangerous Conditions

By on August 6, 2014 - Comments off

Hall v. Aurora Loan Services LLC (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 1134, 155 Cal.Rptr.3d 739

A real estate agent who fractured her leg when a stairway ladder broke while she was showing a house to prospective buyers, filed suit for personal injuries against the loan services company which owned the property, as well as the listing agents. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants had been negligent in failing to disclose to visitors the concealed dangerous condition, because a licensed contractor who had inspected the house a few months earlier had written a report stating “remove and replace attic stair.”

The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that they had no notice or knowledge of a defect in the stairway, in that the report did not express any safety concerns about the stairway ladder.  The contractor himself had testified the ladder did not appear to be dangerous, and that if there had been a problem other than with its appearance he would have noted it in his report. The trial court granted summary judgment but the court of appeal reversed, holding that triable issues of fact remained as to whether the defendants should have known the ladder was a concealed danger: Read the rest »


Elder Abuse:  Outpatient Treatment

By on July 28, 2014 - Comments off

Winn v. Pioneer Medical Group, Inc. (2013)  216 Cal. App. 4th 875, 157 Cal.Rptr.3d 124

The heirs of an 83-year old woman who died of blood poisoning several months after two amputation surgeries due to gangrene, filed a complaint for elder abuse against a medical group and physicians who had been caring for her on an outpatient basis for several years prior to her hospitalization. The plaintiffs alleged that the decedent had suffered from impaired vascular flow which the defendants had charted but ignored for years, and that they should have referred her to a specialist in vascular care.

The trial court sustained the defendants’ demurrer without leave to amend, finding that the plaintiffs had failed to provide facts showing that care had been rendered in a reckless sense as is required under the Elder Abuse Act. However, the court of appeal reversed, finding the question of recklessness was for a jury to decide, and rejecting the defendants’ contention that outpatient care does not fall within the scope of the Act: Read the rest »


Duty of Care: Furnishing Alcohol to Minors

By on July 21, 2014 - Comments off

Rybicki v. Carlson, (Second District, May 22, 2013) 216 Cal. App.4th 758, 157 Cal.Rptr.3d 660

A bicyclist who was injured when he was stuck by a drunk driving on the wrong side of the road, filed an action for personal injuries against the driver and her four female passengers. The plaintiff alleged that the five friends, who were all under 21, had collectively solicited adults to purchase alcoholic beverages for them, which they brought to a male friend’s home to consume, along with other alcoholic beverages provided at the residence. The plaintiff further alleged conspiracy and aiding and abetting theories, contending that some of the alcohol had been furnished in violation of Civil Code § 1714(d), which provides that an adult who furnishes alcoholic beverages to a minor at his or her residence may be liable for resulting injuries. Read the rest »


Commercial Vendors: Duty to Secure Cargo

By on July 9, 2014 - Comments off

Pedeferri v. Seidner Enterprises (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 359, 156 Cal.Rptr.3d 673

A highway patrolman who was paralyzed when he was struck by a vehicle while standing on the side of a freeway, filed suit against the driver of the vehicle as well as a motorsports dealership whose employees had loaded two dirt bikes into the vehicle 90 minutes earlier. The plaintiff alleged that the driver had lost control of his vehicle due in part to being distracted by movement of the dirt bikes, one of which had just been purchased from the dealership. The plaintiff further alleged that the dealership’s employees had contributed to the accident by negligently loading and securing the bikes in the back of the truck. Read the rest »

Posted in: Liability Law


Dram Shop Liability: Furnishing Alcohol to Minors

By on November 11, 2012 - Comments off

Ruiz v. Safeway, Inc., (First District, October 12, 2012) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2012 WL 4845615
The parents of a man who was killed when his car was struck by an 18-year-old drunk driver, filed an action against the store where his underage passenger had purchased a 12-pack of beer which they had consumed. The plaintiffs alleged that the store was liable under Business & Professions Code § 25602.1, which provides for liability of a licensed provider “who sells, furnishes, gives or cause to be sold, furnished or given away any alcoholic beverage … to any obviously intoxicated minor. Although the driver was with his passenger when the latter used a false identification to purchase the beer, the plaintiffs contended that the Safeway checker had “furnished” or “caused to be furnished or given” alcohol to the driver.

The trial court granted summary judgment and the court of appeal affirmed, finding that despite the presence of the driver at the time of the purchase, because the person to whom the alcohol was sold was not the driver of the vehicle, the store could not be held liable under § 25602.1: Read the rest »

Posted in: Liability Law