Posts Tagged ‘California’

28 felony counts in California crash-faking indictment

“For several years, [defendant Susana] Chung ‘acted as the conduit’ of fraudulent insurance claims filed in connection with staged crashes in Northern California, said Larry Blazer, an Alameda County assistant district attorney.” Nearly 100 persons, mostly “victims” of bogus accidents but also including three chiropractors, have been found guilty in the scheme. [San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune via ABA Journal]

Test case on NFL liability for players’ dementia

In addition to the main questions of proof of causation, assumption of risk, and so on raised in yesterday’s NYT story, there is this window into a little-known but well-developed area of forum-shopping:

…California’s workers’ compensation system provides a unique, and relatively unknown, haven for retired professional athletes among the 50 states, allowing hundreds of long-retired veterans each year to file claims for injuries sustained decades before. Players need not have played for California teams or be residents of the state; they had to participate in just one game in the state to be eligible to receive lifetime medical care for their injuries from the teams and their insurance carriers.

About 700 former N.F.L. players are pursuing cases in California, according to state records, with most of them in line to receive routine lump-sum settlements of about $100,000 to $200,000. This virtual assembly line has until now focused on orthopedic injuries, with torn shoulders and ravaged knees obvious casualties of the players’ former workplace. …

Because of the legal environment, the relatively new Arena Football League has avoided locating any of its teams in California.

P.S. Related Times piece on two California lawyers who have brought in “awards that probably total more than $100 million” for players. “Many retired players consider Owens and Mix heroes among their own for essentially finding cash under a mattress; others see an assembly-line process in which players do not fully understand the implications of the settlements.” And some teams have attempted to remove the proceedings to states other than California.

March 24 roundup

  • Jury orders Dutchess County, N.Y. school district to pay $1.25 million for not adequately addressing classmate harassment of “very dark skinned” half-Latino student; district protests that it had extensively pursued diversity/sensitivity programs [Poughkeepsie Journal]
  • More unwisdom: “Oklahoma House of Representatives Proposes Ban on Use of Foreign Law in Oklahoma Courts” [Volokh, earlier on Arizona bill]
  • Update: California environment czars won’t ban black cars, but watch out for what reflective-layer window mandates might do to cellphones and tollgate transponders [ShopFloor, earlier]
  • “Firm Sanctioned for ‘Perfect Storm’ of Improper Practices in Debt Collection” [NYLJ]
  • Critic of lie detector technology says U.K. libel law has silenced him [Times Online] Science journalist Simon Singh says fighting chiropractors’ libel suit is so draining that he’s quitting his column for the Guardian [Guardian, Citizen Media Law]
  • Florida: father who lost wife, son in murder/suicide at gun range drops lawsuit against the store [Orlando Sentinel]
  • Appeals court declines to overturn Mary Roberts sextortion conviction [, opinion, related, earlier]
  • Corporation for Public Newspapering? Stimulus bucks go to “public-interest investigative journalism” [SFWeekly]

Open MySpace invitation to house party did not make assault “reasonably foreseeable”

A California appeals court has declined plaintiffs’ invitation to hold that “a public invitation posted on MySpace to a free party offering music and alcohol was substantially certain to result in an injury to someone.” Three men were “allegedly attacked by a group of unknown individuals as they arrived at the party,” which was thrown by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and announced on the social media site. [OnPoint News]

Deep pockets files: 1956 edition

Decedent, Lloyd A. Wiseman, a vice president of a San Francisco bank, died of asphyxiation and burns in a hotel room in New York City. He was in that city on bank business, and his traveling expenses, including his hotel bills, were paid by the bank. A woman, not his wife but registered as such, was found unconscious in his room and died shortly thereafter. There was evidence that they had been drinking. Sometime between 4 and 5 in the morning of his death, Wiseman telephoned the hotel manager for help because of a fire in his room. After calling the fire department, the manager went to the room but was unable to open the door with his passkey. Firemen arrived shortly thereafter and broke into the room but were too late to save the occupants. It was the opinion of the assistant fire marshal that the fire was caused by careless smoking by either one or both of the occupants.

The California Supreme Court went on to hold that Wiseman’s widow and children were entitled to death benefits from his employer because his death “was proximately caused by the employment”—a remarkable definition of proximate cause. The Court reasoned that Wiseman might have died while entertaining a legitimate guest in the hotel room (at 4 in the morning?), so the fact that the death occurred in the course of nookie was irrelevant. That seems to me to prove too much: Wiseman might have died smoking in his bed at home, too, and he just happened to be in a hotel when his bad habits killed him. But this was part of Judge Traynor’s successful remaking of tort law in the 1950’s, and the death of proximate cause is a large part why we have the mess we have today. Wiseman v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1956) 46 Cal. 2d 570.

(You can tell that this is still over fifty years ago, though, because the widow didn’t sue the hotel or cigarette company.)