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Results 2002

Alvarez vs. Jacamar et al.
Walter Yoka

In an opinion certified for publication, Walter Yoka had the granting of his motions for nonsuit affirmed by the California Court of Appeal, Second District (Alvarez vs. Jacamar (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 1190). Mr. Yoka was assisted at trial and in the preparation of the respondent's brief by Daniel McCann.

This case arose out of the murder of a customer in 1998 at a pizza restaurant operated by Jacamar. At that time, two groups of customers were at the restaurant for dinner. After allegations that women in the plaintiff's group were being "disrespected" by the other group, the men in the parties agreed to a fight outside of the restaurant. At that point an employee called the police. Following a brief shoving match, the parties returned to the restaurant and the assailant's group left, after allegedly saying something about returning later. The assailant's group did eventually return and one member shot and killed a member of the plaintiff's group with a handgun. In their complaint, the plaintiffs, the decedent's daughter and common law wife, claimed that there was inadequate security at the location and further that the restaurant breached the duty it assumed to protect its patrons when a call was made to the police following a fight among customers but all relevant information, including a supposed threat to return, was not passed on to the responding police officers.

After plaintiffs rested following two weeks of presenting evidence at trial in January 2000, Mr. Yoka moved for nonsuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs had failed to establish a duty to prevent what was shown to be an unforeseeable shooting. After a lengthy argument, the court agreed and granted the motions. Absent a duty, plaintiffs' related negligence causes of action were also disposed of.

On appeal, the plaintiffs raised a host of issues charging the trial judge (Charles W. McCoy) erred by excluding police "911 logs," erred in granting the nonsuit on grounds not raised and further applied an incorrect duty analysis. The Court of Appeal affirmed on all grounds finding that the restaurant had no duty to do anything in addition to calling the police following the fight because the subsequent shooting was unforeseeable. Further, plaintiffs' other claims failed as well because they rested on the common question of duty.

Henderson vs. LAMA
Jury Trial January 2002
David McCann

Resulted in a defense verdict. Plaintiff was the driver of a vehicle that he claims was rear-ended by an MTA bus. Although it was undisputed that plaintiff's vehicle was in fact rear-ended, we argued at trial that plaintiff was solely responsible for the incident as he repeatedly accelerated and decelerated his vehicle directly in front of the bus. When plaintiff did this a third time, the bus was unable to avoid impacting the rear of plaintiff's vehicle. Plaintiff was impeached at trial with respect to his description of the accident and his injuries. After a one-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the MTA.

Cuevas vs. Trotline, Martinez, et al.
Summary Judgment
David McCann

Motion for summary judgment granted in favor of defendants. David McCann represented the defendant trucking company and its driver in this two-vehicle accident that occurred in October 1997. Plaintiff, an 18-year-old passenger in a vehicle operated by a co-defendant, claims to have sustained various closed head injuries when her vehicle traveled through a stop sign into the path of defendant's vehicle. The court granted the motion for summary judgment of Trotline and Martinez, finding that a prior arbitration award against the driver of plaintiff's vehicle, which had been reduced to judgment, barred the continued prosecution of this action.

Yaghoubi vs. Icon Health & Fitness
Jury Trial August 16, 2002
Stephen H. Smith

This products liability resulted in a defense verdict. This action involved an accident in which the plaintiff was using a free-gliding exercise machine called the Weslo Easy Stride, manufactured by Icon Health & Fitness, Inc. Plaintiff claimed that while he was attempting to dismount the machine, he fell, fracturing the bones in his mouth and face and permanently removing four of his upper teeth. In addition, plaintiff asserted that he suffered from miscellaneous neurological injuries. Plaintiff claimed that product was defective due to it not having a lock for its pedals, and that the warnings affixed to the machine and contained in the user's manual were insufficient. Defendants argued that the Weslo Easy Stride was not defective and the warnings were adequate. Defendants contended that plaintiff's misuse of the Weslo Easy Stride was the sole cause of the accident. After a two-week trial, the jury, having deliberated for 45 minutes, returned a defense verdict.

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