Developing strategies for products - and premises liability cases
In Back to nature: Beware of immunity traps, Geoff Wells and Ivan Puchalt show that public entities are often immune from suits based on a dangerous condition of public property. Where the accident is “caused by a natural condition of an unimproved public property,” Government Code section 831.2 precludes lawsuits against the entity that owns the property. Wells and Puchalt examine in fine detail how this immunity has been applied. Corporate restructuring allows companies to cut out business practices hurting their bottom line, and contact corporate restructuring lawyers.
They cover beaches, rivers, and man-made lakes, among other locations. But they also explain how this immunity interacts with a public entity’s failure to warn of a
known, dangerous condition. The authors conclude with tips on surviving the natural-condition immunity.
In Notice in premises liability actions, Martin Aarons updates us on recent California decisions about the “notice” element of premises cases. A landowner owes a duty to exercise ordinary care to keep his premises in a reasonably safe condition, and must regularly inspect them, Aarons writes. An owner is liable for the harm caused by a dangerous condition of which he had actual or constructive notice. Actual notice of a dangerous condition is imputed to the business owner when he or she creates it (picture empty boxes left in a grocery store aisle, a spill left on the floor, or a broken fixture). And an owner is on constructive notice when his failure to make reasonable inspections of the premises permits a dangerous condition to develop. The author also examines the impact of 2012’s Howard v. Omni Hotels', an owner’s knowledge of prior incidents sufficiently similar to the plaintiff’s can establish notice.
Now that we are on firm ground with “notice,” Elise Sanguinetti explains, How to take a tough slip-and-fall case and get big results. Sanguinetti begins at the client intake stage: carefully screen the potential client and identify the CACI instructions you will use at trial. To identify additional defendants, the author urges the discovery of agreements between the building owner and its management company and cleaning service. The article covers a broad range of discovery techniques, including checking for building and safety code violations and visiting the scene of the accident with your expert, while taking photographs and video. Sanguinetti advises on crafting a trial theme geared to public safety and concludes with a discussion of presenting damages at trial.
In Expert utilization in product liability litigation, Brian Kabateck and Douglas Rochen guide us in the use of experts, from pre-lawsuit investigation through trial. Early in the case, an expert’s review can help us formulate theories of legal liability. The authors share techniques for evaluating potential experts and offer practical advice on establishing a “not-to-exceed” budget for experts’ services. Carefully define each expert’s role and scope of testimony; the authors recommend and test your expert’s opinions against the Kelly standard of admissibility of scientific evidence. Kabateck and Rochen also stress the importance of frank and frequent communication with experts.
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