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Many companies, including nursing homes and residential care facilities, have patients sign arbitration agreements at the time of their intake. While these types of agreements purport to waive the patients’ right to pursue legal claims in court against the facilities, they are not always enforceable. In Nelson v. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center, Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. G059565, the Court of Appeal considered whether the trial court erred in determining that an arbitration agreement was unconscionable and unenforceable.

Factual and procedural background

Brandon Nelson was a 26-year-old engineering graduate who developed acute psychosis in Jan. 2018. He told a police officer friend that he needed to borrow a handgun to kill himself because he felt evil and animal-like. The friend called the police, and Brandon was placed on a psychiatric hold for 72 hours in an inpatient psychiatric facility. He was subsequently treated for six weeks, first in Pasadena at Las Encinas Mental Hospital (LEMH) and subsequently in Laguna Beach at Mission Hospital. The hospital records at LEMH noted that Brandon was delusional, paranoid, believed he was being recorded, was fearful, and was considered gravely disabled. LEMH discharged him on Feb. 23rd. He was then admitted to Mission Hospital three days later on Feb. 26 on a new psychiatric hold after he again threatened to commit suicide. Brandon signed a durable power of attorney (POA) on Feb. 27, granting his father, Allen Nelson, power of attorney to handle Brandon’s financial affairs and personal care, including the ability to use Brandon’s resources for placement in a residential care or skilled nursing facility.

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Los-Angeles-Car-Accident-Lawyers-AttorneysIn 2015, the City of Los Angeles adopted Vision Zero following its implementation in multiple European cities. The city’s Vision Zero plan aimed to decrease traffic fatalities each year with the goal of eliminating all of them by 2025. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an executive directive through which he committed the city to Vision Zero with the intention of reducing traffic death to zero by 2025 through a combination of infrastructure improvements and new policies. While the initiative initially showed promise with the city’s modifications of 18 traffic corridors to include protected left-turn signals and extended curbs, the traffic fatality statistics demonstrate that the impact of Vision Zero has not been as intended. Instead, traffic fatalities have increased since 2015 to reach a 20-year high of 289 people in Los Angeles in 2021. Similarly, other U.S. cities that have adopted Vision Zero programs have also seen increases in traffic fatalities, including New York City, Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

By contrast, European cities with similar programs have demonstrated a steady decline in traffic fatalities. For example, Helsinki, Finland, a city with a population the size of Las Vegas, Nevada, only had three traffic fatalities. By contrast, Las Vegas had 304 traffic fatalities that year despite having a Vision Zero program.

There are several reasons why Vision Zero has not worked as intended in the U.S. while it has been effective in Europe.

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drowsy-driving-accident-claims-attorneysEmployers are generally not liable for the negligent actions of their employees when the employees are traveling to or from work while off the clock. However, if an employer creates a risk of injury during the employee’s commute, and the employee then causes an accident as a result of that created risk, the employer might be liable. In Feltham v. Universal Protection Service, LP, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. A161190, the California Court of Appeal considered whether the trial court’s ruling that the special risk exception had not been met was correct.

Factual and Procedural Background

Clanisha Villegas worked for Universal Protection Service, LP (DBA Allied Universal Corporation) from Feb. 2015 to May 2016 before leaving to have a baby. Universal provided security guard services to multiple medical facilities through the University of California, San Francisco. Villegas reapplied for a security guard position in 2017 and asked to work the overnight shift. During her interview, she informed the company that she had an eight-month-old baby and did not have daytime childcare. The interviewer did not ask Villegas about her daytime activities or when she was able to sleep.

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hospital-bill-after-California-AccidentWhen people are injured in accidents in California and pursue auto accident claims against the other drivers who caused their accidents, their medical providers might place liens against any settlements or awards they might receive in their lawsuits. However, there are limits to the ability of medical providers to place liens against certain types of recoveries. In Dameron Hospital Assn. v. AAA Northern California, Utah, and Nevada Insurance Exchange, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. C086518, the California Court of Appeal held that a hospital cannot place a lien against an insured’s uninsured or underinsured motorist’s coverage or their medical payments coverage through their auto insurance policies when they have health insurance.

Factual and Procedural Background

Five different people were insured by AAA for automobile insurance. Each of these five individuals was injured in accidents caused by others and sought treatment at Dameron Hospital. The patients were required to sign an agreement with the hospital upon their discharge assigning any UM/UIM or MedPay benefits to the hospital. Each of the five people had UM/UIM and/or MedPay coverage on their auto insurance policies. Dameron requested direct payments from the patients’ auto insurance carriers at the hospital’s full rates. However, AAA evaluated the bills sent by the hospital and paid significantly lower rates than what the hospital had billed. The auto insurer paid the balances to the insureds, and the hospital filed a lawsuit against the insurance company to recover the difference.

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tesla-accident-attorneys-CaliforniaAutonomous driving technology has been touted by manufacturers as a potential solution to the problems of serious motor vehicle collisions. As several manufacturers continue to test systems on the nation’s roadways, the likelihood of autonomous vehicles becoming available in the market has increased. However, this type of technology cannot prevent all accidents, and drivers who misuse semi-autonomous technology in their vehicles can cause serious accidents in which people can be injured or killed. A pending criminal case in California demonstrates the potential liability of motorists who are driving semi-autonomous vehicles and cause serious injury or fatality collisions. It also raises potential issues involving product liability.

Fatal California Tesla Autopilot Collision Results in Criminal Charges

In 2019, Kevin George Aziz Riad, a 27-year-old man, was driving his Tesla on Autopilot mode. Tesla Autopilot is a driver-assist technology that is considered to be level 2 automation technology on the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) six levels of autonomous technology. While Tesla Autopilot is not fully autonomous, it includes features that include automatic lane changes, traffic-aware cruise control, lane centering, self-parking, semi-autonomous navigation, and the ability for a driver to summon the vehicle from a parking spot or garage. However, when a driver has Tesla Autopilot engaged, he or she must constantly supervise the vehicle and be prepared to take over at any time. Tesla recommends drivers keep at least one hand on the wheel while they are using Tesla Autopilot.

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LAZ Parking is a large employer in Los Angeles.  They run valet parking for many commercial buildings across California including many buildings in Los Angeles like the Century City Mall, the SLS Hotel, the Broad Museum, and many high rise office buildings like 707 Wilshire and 515 S. Figueroa.   They also provide parking management services and valets for numerous buildings all over California including Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and San Diego.   They have hundreds of employees across California that are being paid by the hour.

Hourly employees like these are entitled to very specific wage and hour benefits.    This includes the right to be provided with meal and rest breaks, the entitlement to overtime compensation for working over 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, the right to being paid in full and on time, the right to be provided with complete and accurate wage statements and paystubs and many other rights.

Steven M. Sweat APC is currently representing LAZ Parking employees across California who’s legal rights have been violated with regard to compliance with California wage and hour laws.  We have representative actions filed under the California Private Attorney’s General Act (PAGA).  If you or someone you know worked for LAZ Parking at any time in the last 3-4 years, please call us at 866-966-5240 to find out more about your legal rights to participate in a class claim to be compensated for wages you may be owed!

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In California medical malpractice lawsuits involving allegations of professional negligence, the state caps awards of non-economic damages at $250,000. However, when a lawsuit involves allegations of abuse while in the care of licensed professionals, there was previously a question about whether the damages cap applies or if instead noneconomic damages are unlimited under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (Elder Abuse Act). In a recent case involving patients in a mental health hospital who were sexually abused by an unlicensed mental health aide, the Court of Appeals considered whether the damages cap under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) applied or if the damages award could instead be unlimited under the Elder Abuse Act.

Factual and Procedural Background

In the case of Samantha B., et. al. v. Aurora Vista Del Mar, LLC, et. al., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B30231, several women who were patients of a mental health hospital alleged that they were repeatedly sexually abused by an unlicensed attendant. Samantha B., Danielle W., and C. F. were patients at Aurora Vista Del Mar, a licensed psychiatric hospital. The facility was owned by Signature Healthcare Services.

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California-Freeway-Accident-AttorneysWith more than 39.5 million people calling California their home combined with tourists and other visitors, California’s freeways, interstates, and highways are perennially congested with traffic. California’s transportation infrastructure ranges from wide city avenues, numerous interstates and freeways, winding beach roads, and major highways, allowing plenty of routes for people to choose to travel to their destinations.

Motor vehicle accidents can happen anywhere. However, there are some interstates and other roads that are more dangerous than others. Multiple factors increase the risks of accidents on certain roads, including traffic congestion, speed limits, narrow lanes, poor visibility, difficulty navigating, and others. In 2020, 3,723 people were killed in traffic collisions in California, which was a sharp increase over the 3,540 traffic deaths that occurred in the state in 2019.

The population density of California makes it unsurprising that the state is known for traffic problems. Unfortunately, many motor vehicle collisions in the state result in serious injuries or fatalities each year. A recent study also found that California is home to three of the most dangerous freeways in the nation. Understanding which roads are the most dangerous might help people to exercise added caution when they drive on them and potentially avoid being involved in collisions. Here are some of the most dangerous freeways and roads in California.

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California-Bicycle-Accident-AttorneysIn Sept. 2021, an incident involving a 16-year-old teenager who struck six cyclists after blowing clouds of exhaust fumes on a group of cyclists was widely reported in the news media. The incident happened in Texas. Initially, the teen was released by the police from the scene without charges. However, the district attorney’s office in the county where the incident happened recently filed charges against the teen.

While the case is pending in Texas, if a similar incident happened in California, the perpetrator would also likely be charged with serious crimes. In either state, the injured victims would also be entitled to pursue compensation through personal injury claims regardless of the outcome of the criminal case against the defendant. Here is some information about the incident and how it might be handled if it happened in California.

Texas incident

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Sexual-Abuse-Lawsuits-Los-AngelesThe widespread problem of clergy sexual abuse of children within the Catholic church has been well-documented and broadly reported in the news media over the last couple of decades. People who are the victims of sexual assault can pursue compensation through civil sexual assault lawsuits. The California Court of Appeal recently considered a case in which the trial court found that the Archdiocese did not have a duty to protect a minor during the late 1980s because of its lack of knowledge about a priest’s past misconduct in Doe v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B305810.[1]

Factual and procedural background

John HG Doe attended classes at the Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church during the late 1980s. The classes were held in a room located off of the sanctuary. When Doe was 10 in 1988, he asked to go to the bathroom. While he was in a bathroom stall, Father John Higson, an associate pastor who was not Doe’s teacher, entered the stall, groped Doe’s genitals, and forced Doe to perform oral sex on Higson. According to Doe, Higson told him that all of the boys did that as a part of their first communion. When Doe returned to class, he was upset. However, his teacher did not ask him why he was upset, and he did not tell the teacher what had happened to him.

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