It’s baseball season again and, therefore, that time of year for me to remind readers of an important legal issue relating to their enjoyment of baseball namely, “who is responsible if someone gets hit with a line drive, foul ball and/or broken bat while watching a game?” As a lawyer, and a big Giants fan, I like to start off the season by saying, put down your cell phone and “keep your eye on the ball” during play. A distraction can lead to serious and even life threatening injury.
On Saturday October 7, a beautiful Indian summer day in Marin, approximately 1,300 cyclists gathered to ride through the rolling hills of Marin to support the Marin Bike Coalition in its annual Jensie Gran Fondo. As the day went on, what started as a fun-filled day turned to tragedy when the driver of a blue Dodge Ram pickup allegedly swerved to the right and struck 4 bicyclists knocking them to the ground and then sped off. The hit and run collision is the worst injury in the event’s history.
Ray from the Sunset District writes, “I deliver meals for one of the app food companies. Last week, my car was in the shop so I was driving my girlfriend’s new motorcycle when a driver for national package delivery service company pulled out of a driveway without looking and drove right into my path. We collided and I had to go to the hospital for a broken collar bone and some fractured ribs.
The driver claimed I was speeding. At most, I was going slightly over the speed. The driver was not injured but the rear of his van was smashed. His company’s insurance company is demanding I pay for the repair costs. My girlfriend’s motorcycle was a total loss. I have $16,000 in hospital bills.
I found out after the crash that my girlfriend did not have motorcycle insurance. She owns another motorcycle that is insured but hadn’t yet put her new bike on the policy. I have a policy for my car but don’t know if that helps. I asked about my situation on a message board for ride share drivers. One person said I don’t have any coverage under “Prop 213” because the motorcycle was not insured. Another person said I must not tell my insurance company I was delivering meals. What’s the real answer? Aren’t all app drivers covered by the company’s insurance?”
This week’s question comes from Cheryl in Petaluma, who asks: “I recently heard your PSA on the radio regarding children dying from heat stroke by accident when they are locked in cars. What are the legal repercussions of leaving children unattended in parked vehicles and are there any new laws designed to protect children in automobiles?”
This week’s Article provides a brief update on the goings-on of the civil lawsuits filed as a result of the Ghost Ship Fire on December 2, 2016.
What was the Ghost Ship Fire?
On December 2, 2016, a fire broke out in a “warehouse” located off of Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland, California. At the time of the fire, the “Ghost Ship” was host to a concert promoted by record label 100% Silk. Thirty-six (36) people died in the blaze. It was the deadliest building fire in California’s history since the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
Several individuals have come forward with claims for physical, mental and emotional injuries caused by the fire, and/or on behalf of their loved ones who perished in the fire.
On June 5, 2017, Ghost Ship master tenant Derick Almena and his second-in-command, Max Harris, were arrested and charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in conjunction with the December 2, 2016, Ghost Ship fire that killed three dozen people. “The paying guests at the event were faced with a nearly impossible labyrinth of the defendants’ making to get out of that building,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley at a news conference. “Almena and Harris’ actions were reckless and they created the high risk of death.”
On the night of Friday, December 2, 2016, 36 people perished, almost all young adults, and many more suffered physical and psychological injuries in a horrific fire that consumed the Ghost Ship building in the Fruitvale District of Oakland. The fire started near midnight during an electronic music show in the converted warehouse. It was the deadliest structural blaze in California since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.
Irina from San Francisco writes, “Chris, I own a small, rescue dog who is afraid of larger dogs. My son and I were walking our dog, on the sidewalk and on his leash, to a nearby park when suddenly a Rottweiler dog, off leash, came around the corner and bounded up to my dog. Afraid for my dog, I reached down to pick him up. The Rottweiler jumped up on me, viciously biting my arm just above my elbow drawing blood. Throughout the ordeal my son, 6, was screaming and crying. I was afraid that the Rottweiler was going to kill me, my son, or the dog. Finally, the owner of the dog ran up and pulled his dog off me, said he was sorry, and that his dog had never acted this way before. I had to go to the hospital where I was treated for the puncture wounds. The dog also lacerated a tendon near my elbow and I may need surgery. I have developed an infection and now I am taking antibiotics. I am told I will have a permanent scar from the bite marks. My son is in therapy now as he shakes and starts breathing rapidly when he encounters a large dog.
The dog owner got nasty when I told him his dog should be on a leash. He seemed offended and said if my dog hadn’t barked he wouldn’t have been bitten. I called the police and he started walking away so I took his picture. They arrived and found him in the park. He is a finance guy living in a big house in Noe Valley. I always thought people that filed lawsuits were just trying to make a quick dollar, but now that my son and I have been injured by this guy’s careless attitude I can see why people sue guys like him. I want to know what my rights are. I have medical bills, lost time at work, need future plastic surgery, and my son in in therapy.”
Jeff T. from the Marina asks: “I was at a bar with friends. We got tipsy, maybe a little more, and the bouncer asked my friend to leave. He left then snuck back in. The bouncer found him and grabbed him by the hair and started pulling him outside. My friend screamed and the bouncer threw him outside on the ground about ten feet from the front door. I stood between the bouncer and my friend and said “stop we are leaving.”
My friend got up and told the bouncer to go*&%$ himself and the bouncer took a swing at him, missed and hit me in the face breaking my nose. I did nothing but tried to calm things down and I got my nose broken. I called the police but said that they wouldn’t make an arrest because the bouncer said we both attacked him. I know some other witnesses who left before the police came. I heard that this has happened before with this bouncer. He still works there. What can I do?”
In the early morning of Saturday, January 21, 2017, tragedy struck the residents of a house in Ukiah, California, as a massive oak tree, weakened by weeks of rain, uprooted and crashed through the roof of the structure, killing 36-year-old Erika Tyler. Tyler was asleep at the time with her boyfriend and a young child, both of whom escaped injury.