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Anil Gharmalkar v. Coastal Fumigation, Inc., et al.

Defense Verdict

Alice Chen Smith and Benjamin A. Davis

April 18, 2017

Alice Chen Smith and Benjamin A. Davis obtained a unanimous defense verdict in an admitted liability case on behalf of Coastal Fumigation, Inc., Ismael Rodriguez, and Jose Everett Fisher in a personal injury action stemming from a motor vehicle accident that took place in September 2013. Defendant Fisher was in the course and scope of his employment with defendants Coastal Fumigation and Ismael Fisher at the time of the incident.

Plaintiff asserted negligence against defendant Fisher in operating his pickup truck, and asserted that Coastal Fumigation was vicariously liable for the negligence of its employee. Plaintiff also asserted a cause of action for negligent entrustment against defendant Fisher, the owner of the pickup truck.

In August 2014, plaintiff underwent a discectomy and anterior fusion at C5-6 and had a metal plate permanently inserted in his neck. Plaintiff claimed that the neck surgery was caused by the incident. Prior to trial, defendants stipulated to negligence and vicarious liability. However, defendants contended that the incident was not a substantial factor in causing plaintiff's injuries.

At trial, Plaintiff argued that the only logical explanation for his herniated disc was due to the incident. Plaintiff waived past medical specials, but asked for over $2.1 million for loss of earnings, future medical expenses and past and future noneconomic damages.

After a five day trial in the Santa Barbara Superior Court, the jury deliberated for one hour and rendered a unanimous 12-0 verdict in favor of the defense.

Zuroff v. Turner Construction, et al., Chartis Specialty Insurance v. The Raymond Group, Brady Company

Finding for Defense, Bench Trial

Mary Childs

March 2017

Mary Childs successfully defended The Raymond Group in a construction site accident case venued in the San Diego County Superior Court. During construction of the Connections Housing project Chartis Specialty Insurance's insured, Allied Industries, Inc. (demolition subcontractor), at the direction of Turner Construction (general contractor) cut an opening in the wall in the basement area. The opening lead to a 12' drop to the sub-basement. Instead of erecting a barricade at the opening in the wall, Allied installed a barricade about 12' from the wall opening it cut. Raymond Group (drywall and steel stud subcontractor) did work in the area after Allied cut the opening in the wall and erected a barricade to block access to the area where the wall opening existed. Raymond's employee asked Turner's employee to relocate the barricade so Raymond could do some required work in the area. Brady Group (door installer) also did work in the area after Raymond did its work in the area. Plaintiff, an employee of Cosco was checking the fire sprinkler lines in the basement area of the building when he stepped through the unprotected opening in the wall falling to the ground below (about 12') sustaining injuries. Plaintiff claims there was no barricade in place anywhere at the time of his fall.

Chartis took it upon itself to fund a settlement with the plaintiff in the amount of $165,000. Chartis included all defendants on the settlement agreement. Chartis Specialty pursued defendants The Raymond Group and Brady Company for indemnity and contribution based on Chartis' allegation that either Raymond or Brady removed the barricade Allied installed leaving the opening in the wall unprotected and thereby creating a dangerous condition. Because of the equitable nature of the claims, the case was tried to the bench. The court found that Chartis/Allied failed to carry their burden to demonstrate that Brady or Raymond were the legal cause of plaintiff's injuries. The court found that the only substantial factor in plaintiff's injury was Allied's creation of a hazard and its failure to properly protect tradesman from that hazard by failing to properly barricade it and failing to warn of its existence at safety meetings and otherwise.

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