Summertime San Francisco Personal Injury Attorneys

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					SUMMER 2011


p.2   Children sexually assaulted
      by babysitter
      Confidential Settlement         Dear Friends, Clients and Colleagues:
p.2    Collision causes broken        For some of you the summer weather has been in full force for a while. We San
       kneecap and exacerbates        Franciscans are just now starting to emerge from the foggy months and looking
       knee injuries
                                      forward to August, September and October sunlight.
p.2    Cab runs red light, injuring   In this edition, in part because of the summer season, we wanted to focus on
       elderly couple                 two subjects.
                                          First is adult supervision of child activities. Our legal brief section, Weapons
p.3    Jury verdict for woman
                                          & Tactics, addresses the seriousness of supervision and how to pursue
       injured when security gate
                                          negligent supervision cases. The theory is applied in Case Results’ Doe I
       brought down on her at ski
                                          and Doe II v. The Roe Family.
       $415,164                           And second is our Safety First! section, where we explore the hazards
                                          presented by propane and backyard barbecues.
p.5  “You’ll shoot your eye out!”     If you’ve read earlier editions of this newsletter, you’ll also notice we’ve included
     Using Restatement of Torts       some recent case results that are six-figure resolutions rather than the multimillion
     § 324A to Impose a Duty on       dollar results we frequently cover. We wanted to publish a range of our cases to
     Child Watchers                   demonstrate that we are proud to work on all types of employment, injury and
                                      death cases. These cases, clients and their stories are no less important than any
SAFETY FIRST                          other issue our firm tackles.
p.5-6 Summertime Barbecues
      and Propane Safety              If you have a question about whether we can help with your claim or referral,
                                      please give us a call to discuss it. We are here to help.
p.7   Professional, Social and        All the best,
      Volunteer Work
                                      The attorneys and staff at Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn
p.8  Young woman uses $16 million
     jury verdict to move forward
     and help others

44 Montgomery Street
Suite 4000
San Francisco, CA 94104
T. 415 398 5398
F. 415 398 8169


    Children sexually assaulted by babysitter
    Doe I and Doe II v. The Roe Family1
    FACTS                                                               evening, leaving 12-year-old Roe alone with Doe I and Doe II.
    In a case involving negligent supervision and negligent failure     Roe sexually assaulted and molested the children, and threat-
    to warn, the firm argued parental liability when 12-year-old        ened serious harm if they told.
    Roe sexually assaulted and molested his two neighbors Doe
                                                                        LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
    I, age 4 1/2 and Doe II, age 2, while babysitting. The plaintiffs
                                                                        Our firm was able to assert liability against Roe’s parents
    and defendants had been neighbors for six years before the
                                                                        and collect under a homeowner’s insurance policy. Mr. and
    evening of the incident. Roe had been adopted at the age of
                                                                        Mrs. Roe were vicariously liable to the plaintiffs under Civil
    five from the State of California Foster Care System. Before
                                                                        Code § 1714.1 for the conduct of their son Roe, up to a set
    his adoption, Roe spent time with his biological mother, who
                                                                        amount per victim per occurrence. The firm also asserted
    had a family history that included sexual abuse. After he was
                                                                        a direct negligence claim against Roe’s parents for failing
    adopted, Roe did not receive any form of counseling.
                                                                        to supervise the children as agreed, and leaving the young
    When Roe turned 11, Roe’s parents suggested to several              children unsupervised when it was foreseeable that harm
    neighbors that Roe was available for babysitting. When Roe          could occur given the children’s young ages. 2 We also
    turned 12, one of the neighbors allowed Roe to babysit for her      argued that Roe’s parents failed to warn the neighbors
    young children, Doe I and Doe II. The agreement was made            about Roe’s background. This included Roe’s own fetal
    only after Roe’s mother agreed to remain home immediately           alcohol syndrome background and his potential exposure
    next-door while Roe was babysitting and to “check in” on            to his mother’s family history of sexual abuse. Both issues
    all of the children, given Roe’s age. When Roe returned to          have been linked to sexually abusive conduct.
    babysit on a second occasion, the parents of young Doe I
                                                                        CASE RESULT
    and Doe II believed that Roe’s mother would again remain
                                                                        The case settled for a confidential amount.
    at home. However, both of Roe’s parents went out for the

      Ron Rouda and June Bashant represented the children.

    Collision causes broken kneecap and exacerbates knee injuries
    Jane Doe v. Defendant Driver
    FACTS                                                               Jane was 53 years old at the time of the collision. Both
    Jane Doe was driving westbound on Walnut Creek’s Treat              knees hit the dashboard, fracturing her right kneecap and
    Boulevard in the slow lane. Jane drove forward into the             exacerbating pre-existing knee injuries.
    intersection on a solid green light. As Jane moved into the
                                                                        LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
    intersection, Defendant Driver, driving a large late-model
                                                                        This was a damages-only case with less than $20,000 in
    Oldsmobile 98, ran the red light and made a left turn from
                                                                        medical expenses and no significant wage-loss component.
    eastbound Treat Boulevard directly into the path of Jane
                                                                        Our firm argued that the fractured kneecap was a significant
    Doe’s car. The resulting collision caused Jane’s car to veer
                                                                        injury. The defense argued that Jane made a very good recov-
    to the right, hit a stopped car, and slam into a light pole.
                                                                        ery and that she had significant pre-existing knee problems.
    Defendant was 83 years old at the time of the crash. She
    acknowledged her full responsibility for the collision and          CASE RESULT
    stopped driving after the collision.                                The case settled for $625,000.

      John Feder represented Jane Doe.

    Cab runs red light, injuring elderly couple
    The Does v. Arrow Cab Co.
    FACTS                                                               LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
    John and Jane Doe, an elderly couple, were driving on Pine          Despite the cab driver’s statement that the brakes failed,
    Street in San Francisco when an Arrow Cab ran a red light,          Arrow Cab accepted legal responsibility for the incident. A
    crashing into their car. Jane Doe was knocked unconscious           motion for preference based on the Does’ age and health was
    and suffered a neck injury. Her husband, in addition to being       granted. The case settled at the beginning of expert discovery.
    put in fear for his own life, witnessed his wife’s injuries. The
                                                                        CASE RESULT
    cab driver claimed that the cab’s brakes failed.
                                                                        The case settled for policy limits of $575,000.

      Cynthia McGuinn represented the Does.
                                                                                                                                 CASE HIGHLIGHTS                  3

Jury verdict for woman injured when security gate brought down on her at ski resort
Jane Doe v. Northstar-at-Tahoe
FACTS                                                                              she was told to remove the neck brace, she started devel-
Jane Doe, a 33-year-old physical therapist from San Fran-                          oping other problems. These included visual disturbances,
cisco, was an avid snowboarder. She had a season pass at                           light sensitivity, headaches, right-sided numbness, dizziness
Northstar. On one of her visits, she finished snowboarding                         and exhaustion. Her doctors determined she did not have a
for the day before her friend. She waited on the deck of                           traumatic brain injury and a majority of them recommended
Northstar’s Mid-Mountain Lodge until the sun went behind                           a psychiatric consult. Doe felt her injuries were physical and
the mountain. She then moved inside, where she noticed                             declined any psychiatric or psychological care.
heat vents in front of a retail counter. She sat down on the
floor in front of the retail counter in a location where the                       Doe remained off work for two years after the incident. She
retail counter worker could not see her.                                           then started working as an outpatient physical therapist
                                                                                   three days a week.
Shortly after she sat down, the retail counter worker closed
                                                                                   LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
a manual overhead security gate. He closed the gate from
behind the retail counter and did not notice Doe. The gate                         The case was litigated in Placer County, where Northstar
struck Doe on top of her head. Ski patrol responded and Doe                        is located. Ms. Doe alleged that Northstar’s employee was
declined medical treatment. Her friend came and helped                             negligent in how he closed the gate. Northstar alleged that
her back to her rental cabin. She drove herself back to San                        (1) it was not liable as a matter of law because Doe had
Francisco the next day.                                                            signed a global liability release when she applied for her
                                                                                   season pass, (2) Doe was responsible for any harm she
Doe returned to work two days later. She had difficulty                            suffered because she was sitting in an unexpected location
performing her work and was told to return when she was                            and (3) at the most she suffered a bruise on her head. The
medically capable of doing so. She was treated by a primary                        court denied Northstar’s motion for summary judgment
care doctor who noted a bruise on her head and neck tender-                        on the release issue.
ness. An orthopedic surgeon who worked with Doe felt she
                                                                                   CASE RESULT
had a minimal disk protrusion because of the incident but
could not rule out that it may have pre-existed the incident.                      $691,941 total jury verdict, reduced by Doe’s 40% compara-
                                                                                   tive fault to $415,164. The case resolved shortly after trial
Doe was placed in a neck brace. Three months later when                            for the judgment plus prevailing party costs.

      Miles B. Cooper, with Maryanne B. Cooper of Fix, LLP, represented Ms. Doe at trial. June Bashant took the majority
      of expert depositions, including obtaining critical impeachment material on the defendant’s orthopedist and

    We’ve been asked, “Why so many Does and Roes in your newsletters and website?” Sometimes the defendants require confidentiality as part of the
    settlement. Other times our clients request that we keep their identities private. While it may at first blush appear to lack creativity to keep using Does
    and Roes, the objective is clarity—to indicate that a specific write-up is confidential.
    For more information on this theory, please see the related brief in the Weapons and Tactics section.

        Miles and Maryanne Cooper, husband and wife, tried
        not one but two cases together for the firm this year.
        A prevailing party attorneys’ fees motion is pending in
        the second case. The facts and outcome of that case
        will be reported in the winter edition of Righting Wrongs.

        The two met when they were lawyers at another firm.
        While they worked at the same firm together, they had
        not worked together on cases and had never been to
        trial together before. “We figured if we could travel for
        months with each other in developing countries, we
        had some of the coping mechanisms necessary to get
        through trial—patience, a sense of humor, and stamina
        in adverse conditions,” said Miles. While Miles reports
        that it worked, Maryanne, who runs her own firm, was
        not interviewed for her side of the story.

    “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
    Using Restatement of Torts § 324A to Impose a Duty on Child Watchers
    Daniel Pleasant, ACP, CAS

    Charlotte Langley agreed with Jane Barfield to watch Jane’s       foster father’s adult son, the court stated that as a “general
    eight-year-old son, Jason, at the Langleys’ home. Charlotte’s     rule, a person who undertakes the control and supervision
    nine-year-old son Joey phoned his friend Shane, also nine,        of a child, even without compensation, has the duty to use
    and told him to come over with his BB gun. While playing—you      reasonable care to protect the child from injury.” 7
    know what’s coming if you’ve ever seen A Christmas Story—
    Shane shot Jason’s eye out.                                       And in 1957, a New Jersey appellate court reversed a trial
                                                                      court judgment of involuntary dismissal in an action by an
    Saying it was “axiomatic” that “an action undertaken for the      infant who was left with his grandmother under an arrange-
    benefit of another, even gratuitously, must be performed in       ment with his mother by which the grandmother would
    accordance with an obligation to exercise reasonable care,        babysit the child without pay while the mother was shopping.
    the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the summary judgment         The child was permitted to recover for injuries he sustained
    the trial court had granted defendant Charlotte Langley on        when he thrust his arm into an unattended running washing
    the duty issue. 3                                                 machine.8

    This case illustrates the general rule that persons who           Other courts have likewise recognized a duty for nonparental
    undertake to watch over young children owe a duty to use          supervisors of minors to use due care:
    reasonable care. “However, the measure of duty of a person        • The mother of an 11-year-old drowning victim sued the
    undertaking control and supervision of a child to exercise          owner of a swimming pool, alleging negligent supervi-
    reasonable care for the safety of the child is to be gauged by      sion and premises liability. The Georgia Court of Appeals
    the standard of the average reasonable parent; such person          held that summary judgment for the defendant should
    is not an insurer of the safety of the child and has no duty to     be reversed because there was a genuine issue of fact as
    foresee and guard against every possible hazard.”4                  to whether owner, as temporary custodian of child, was
    No California case has affirmed this duty principle so precise-     negligent in allowing child to swim in deep end of pool.
    ly. But California has recognized Restatement of Torts (2d)         The duty was to be gauged by the average-reasonable-
    § 324A. Cases citing that section establish that a volunteer        parent standard.9
    who, having no initial duty to do so, undertakes to provide       • Parents of a 13-year-old child who was injured when
    protective services to another, will be found to have a duty        he poured gasoline on burning fire while playing with
    to exercise due care in the performance of that undertaking         neighbor’s son brought an action against landowners.
    if one of two conditions is met: either (a) the volunteer’s         The Indiana Court of Appeals held the complaint
    failure to exercise such care increases the risk of harm to         stated a cause of action for failure to supervise.10
    the other person, or (b) the other person reasonably relies       • A mother brought an action for the alleged wrongful death
    upon the volunteer’s undertaking and suffers injury as a            of her son who had gone with defendant, the father of
    result. So when faced with an injury to a child while the child     a friend of the son, on a fishing trip. The Georgia Court
    is being watched by a nonparent, consider using Section             of Appeals found that the defendant owed a duty to use
    324A as a basis for imposing a duty on the child watcher.           reasonable care [average-reasonable-parent standard]
    Illustrating this tactic, in 1973, the Alabama Supreme Court        in supervision.11
    relied on Section 324A to impose a duty on a nonparent            Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn has experience in these types
    caregiver. In that case, a volunteer babysitter on her own        of cases. If you are faced with such a negligent-supervision
    premises was found to have a duty of due care in supervising      case, please feel free to contact us.
    a one-and-a-half –year-old child who, while under her care
    and control, pulled a skillet of hot grease off a counter onto
    himself. The court buttressed its conclusion with decisions       3
                                                                           Barfield v. Langley (Fla. App. 1983) 432 So.2d 748, 749.
    from sister states that had considered this principle in          4
                                                                           CJS, Negligence, § 475.
    volunteer-babysitter cases. 5                                     5
                                                                           Standifer v. Pate (Ala. 1973) 282 So.2d 261, 262-264.
                                                                           Zalak v. Carroll (N.Y. 1965) 205 N.E.2d 313.
    For example, the New York Court of Appeals upheld a
                                                                           Whitney v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. (La. App.
    judgment against the aunt and uncle who cared for the
                                                                           1969) 225 So.2d 30 [finding duty, but no breach as a matter of law
    four-year-old plaintiff while her mother was working.                  under facts presented].
    The child sustained injuries when a swing set on which            8
                                                                           Barbarisi v. Caruso (N.J. App. 1957) 135 A.2d 539, 541-542.
    she was playing fell over on her.6                                9
                                                                           Hemphill v. Johnson (Ga. App. 1998) 497 S.E.2d 16.
    Similarly, in a 1969 Louisiana Court of Appeal case involving     10
                                                                           Johnson v. Pettigrew (Ind. App. 1992) 595 N.E.2d 747, 752.
    the drowning death of a 12-year-old on a lake outing with his     11
                                                                           Laite v. Baxter (Ga. App. 1972) 191 S.E.2d 531.
                                                                                                                        SAFETY FIRST!      5

Summertime Barbecues and Propane Safety
Tim Tietjen

It’s a warm summer weekend and you are basking in the sun on your deck with your family, enjoying a
cold drink and the enticing smell of a sizzling steak on the barbeque. The last thought on your mind is
safety, right?
It shouldn’t be. According to a recent U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, warm weather
activities such as hosting a barbeque led to product-related injuries of more than 3.7 million people in
the summer months of a single year—836,000 injuries more than the winter months that same year.

Barbecues with family and friends are great fun. Make sure to always be aware of safe handling practices for propane tanks.

The dangers of propane (Liquid Propane Gas) are vastly                      While the 1998 law required all propane cylinders under
understated and poorly understood. But with a few precau-                   40 pounds to have an OPD, propane containers in excess
tionary steps, you can ensure a safe barbeque every time.                   of 40 pounds do not require an OPD. Larger cylinders are
Barbeques with family and friends are great fun, but make                   not typically used for barbeques, but they are often used in
sure you follow the safety tips below:                                      other common applications, such as stoves, gas fireplaces,
                                                                            welding, construction, pottery, and heating trailers, mobile
• Propane Containers                                                        homes and garages.
  Most propane containers or cylinders weigh between 4
  pounds and 40 pounds and contain an Overfill Protection                   Sadly, the propane industry successfully lobbied against
  Device (OPD) that prevents the accidental overfilling of                  the installation of OPDs in propane cylinders over 40
  propane. A propane cylinder is overfilled if it contains more             pounds, so larger cylinders have an inherent danger of
  than 80% liquid propane gas. Since 1998, all propane                      being overfilled if not filled with extreme caution (see the
  cylinders in this weight range have been required to con-                 side panel for a study on 100-pound cylinders and their
  tain an OPD. If you have an old propane cylinder, inspect                 unique hazards).
  it carefully and you will see a date of manufacture. If your
  cylinder was manufactured before 1998, discard it in a                  • Transportation of Propane Cylinders
  safe fashion after venting all the propane. Using a propane               Always transport your propane cylinder in an upright
  container without an OPD is an accident waiting to happen.                position. Your propane cylinder has a pressure relief valve

    Summertime Barbeques and Propane Safety (continued)

      designed to vent propane vapor if excessive pressure builds         keep extra propane cylinders on hand, store them in a
      up inside the cylinder. Under normal circumstances with             cool place away from any water heaters or other potential
      a properly filled cylinder, the pressure relief valve, which        sources of heat or ignition.
      is typically set at 375 psi, will not open. The vapor inside
      a cylinder would have to be heated to about 160 degrees           • Use of Propane Cylinders
      Fahrenheit to reach that pressure, and this would only              After you are done barbequing, always turn off your valve
      occur when the cylinder is exposed to extreme tempera-              to your propane cylinder. Get in the habit of opening and
      tures, such as exposure to fire.                                    closing your propane valve after every use. Leaving your
                                                                          propane valve open all the time runs the risk of propane
      But the pressure relief valve only works if the propane             escaping.
      cylinder is in an upright position. If a propane cylinder is
      lying horizontal and the pressure relief valve opens, liquid      • If You Hear Your Propane Tank Hiss, Stay Away
      propane gas will escape, not vapor. This fact is little known,      If a propane container is overfilled, the pressure relief valve
      and extremely significant, as liquid propane gas expands            will open and vent propane vapor into the air. Without a
      270 times when it reaches the atmosphere, and thus the              nearby source of ignition, the propane valve will vent, and
      potential for a catastrophic propane accident is much               if properly working, close after it discharges the excess
      greater if the cylinder is transported or stored horizontally.      pressure. But if you ever hear your propane cylinder “hiss”
                                                                          or “whistle,” stay away and keep clear. Do not try to inspect
      If you are planning to take your propane cylinder to a gas          or turn any valve on your cylinder—the danger is simply too
      station or other place to be filled, try to go directly to the      great. If the hissing continues for more than 30 seconds,
      facility, get it filled and then return home. Do not let your       call 911. It is better to be safe than sorry.
      recently filled propane cylinder sit inside your car or trunk
      for several hours on a hot day, as this is inviting danger.       • Eliminate The Danger of Propane By Going To Natural Gas
                                                                          Finally, if you are thinking of getting a new barbeque, go
    • Inspection of Propane Cylinders and Equipment                       with one that can accommodate a natural gas line. The cost
      Inspect your propane cylinders each year for dents, gouges,         of running a natural gas line to your barbeque is only a few
      corrosion, leaks or extreme rust. Also check your hoses on          hundred dollars. You will save money in the long run, never
      your grill for brittleness, leaks, holes or cracks. If you find     have to deal with the potential dangers of propane, and
      any of these problems, it is time to replace your equipment.        never run out of fuel in the midst of a summer party.

    • Storage of Propane Cylinders                                      Bear in mind the above safety tips, and barbeque safely to
      Always store your propane cylinder in an upright position,        enjoy your summer.
      and never store any filled cylinders in your home. If you

        100-pound propane cylinder explodes and kills man

        In Doe Family v. Durnall & Campora Propane, Inc., et al.        and personal losses they suffered, the money cannot
        (Righting Wrongs vol. I, Summer 2010;            make up for the life they lost. Don’t assume a propane
        pE1p65), the Doe family lost a husband and father when          filling station is safe just because they are in the propane
        an improperly filled 100-pound propane tank exploded,           business. Be aware of safe handling practices for tanks
        causing severe burns that eventually killed Mr. Doe.            and use particular caution when filling tanks on hot
        While the firm was able to secure a $4.85 million               summer days.
        settlement for the family to make up for the economic
                                                                                                                                                       STAFF NEWS                   7

PROFESSIONAL                                                                              VOLUNTEER WORK

                Cynthia McGuinn continues to be noted                                     Support for San Francisco Trial Lawyers’
                as one of the top 100 Northern California
                                                                                          Association’s Trial Advocacy Fellowship program
                attorneys and top 50 Northern California
                female attorneys as selected by Super                                                      Our firm was not only a financial backer but
                Lawyers magazine, both honors she has held                                                 also host for the San Francisco Trial Law-
                since 2006. In addition, she is the recipient                                              yers’ Association’s Trial Advocacy Fellowship
of the American Board of Trial Advocates “Masters In Trial”                                                program. The program seeks to introduce a
award which was presented to her in Chicago in June 2011.                                                  diverse group of law students to the plaintiffs’
The award was given for her work teaching trial skills to other                                            bar. Four fellows from a pool of applicants are
lawyers at ABOTA programs throughout the country.                                         selected and given stipends and the opportunity to work at
.......................................................................................   three different consumer attorney firms in San Francisco over
                                                                                          the summer.
                  Mandissa Logan recently joined the firm as
                  a paralegal. She moved to San Francisco in                              Our firm’s fellow, Magdalena Gruettner, grew up in communist
                  2010 and worked as a paralegal for litigation                           Poland. She is now about to enter her third year of law school
                  firms in New York and her native Georgia.                               at the University of San Francisco. Magdalena had opportuni-
                  She earned a J.D. from Emory University in                              ties to work with several members of the firm. She spent a
                  Atlanta, Georgia where she became deeply                                substantial portion of time with June Bashant, who had sev-
committed to plaintiffs’ advocacy. In her leisure time, Mandis-                           eral depositions and a mediation in an interesting employment
sa enjoys writing short fiction and trying new recipes in her                             case during Magdalena’s rotation at RFTM.
kitchen. She is also an avid reader and movie watcher.                                    .......................................................................................

SOCIAL                                                                                                           Tim Tietjen and his wife Cindy Tietjen
                                                                                                                 hosted an event at their Napa home to gather
Ron Rouda and his wife Sue Rouda attended the American                                                           eyeglasses and support for Lions In Sight, a
Board of Trial Advocates’ International Meeting in Bali, Thai-                                                   charitable organization dedicated to bringing
land and Cambodia, where Ron made a new acquaintance                                                             basic eye care and eyeglasses to people in
or two.                                                                                                          need throughout the world.
                                                                                          Pro bono defense for consumer leads to dismissal
                                                                                                            While we are a plaintiff’s firm, we sometimes
                                                                                                            provide pro bono defense when consumers
                                                                                                            find themselves on the wrong side of the
                                                                                                            “v” in a case. This most frequently occurs
                                                                                                            in eviction-defense cases where we assist
                                                                                                            low-income or unempowered tenants faced
                                                                                          with losing their homes.

                                                                                          Recently Miles Cooper helped a young woman who was sued
                                                                                          by an insurance company for property damage. The woman,
                                                                                          a single mother who was working fulltime and taking care
Cynthia McGuinn was also scheduled to go on the trip with                                 of two children, had sold her car. It was then involved in a
her husband John McGuinn, a trial lawyer with McGuinn Hills-                              collision. The purchaser failed to turn in the proper transfer
man & Palefsky. But she was working on a significant case that                            documents. As a result, the insurance company went after
she could not leave. While the timing and preparation required                            the young woman, suing her when she told them it was not
for the case prevented Cynthia and John from joining the pre-                             her car, nor was she driving when the incident occurred.
planned trip, the effort was worth it as the case resolved well
for a confidential sum. Her partner Miles Cooper and his wife                             When she came to us, she was facing a mounting pile of
were fortunate enough to be able to take their place, however.                            paper—the insurance company’s discovery requests—and the
                                                                                          potential of losing the case for not responding to the requests.
                                                                                          We helped her obtain the transfer record from the DMV. It
Sue and Ron also made the local Tiburon paper in May for                                  supported her position that she had sold the car. We wrote a
their part in a duckling rescue. They noticed 11 ducklings                                letter to the insurance company’s lawyers and provided the
tumble into a storm drain while they were out for a walk. Sue                             documentation. While it took longer than one would hope
contacted the Humane Society while Ron kept a vigilant eye on                             (which is what we frequently notice about insurance com-
the ducklings. Soon a group had amassed. The ducklings were                               panies—but hey, they’re insurance companies) the company
rescued and returned to the nearby lagoon with their parents.                             dismissed the case against the young woman.

        Young woman uses $16 million jury verdict to move forward and help others
                                                                 Alice Mowatt has come a long way from the devastating
                                                                 injuries she suffered as a pedestrian trying to cross a busy
                                                                 Los Angeles thoroughfare. Alice was a young college student
                                                                 visiting from England when she was struck by a car at nearly
                                                                 50 mph. The City’s crosswalk possessed a hidden hazard—
                                                                 it was placed at a crest in the hill in a 55-mph zone where
                                                                 drivers were not able to see pedestrians until too late. Alice
                                                                 suffered a host of injuries because of the impact, the worst
                                                                 being a severe brain injury. John Feder and Ron Rouda tried
                                                                 her case in Los Angeles in 2006 and a jury agreed that the
                                                                 crosswalk was dangerous. The Court of Appeal also agreed
                                                                 and Alice’s final judgment, with costs and interest, was $16
                                                                 million. The City finally responded and removed the danger-
                                                                 ous crosswalk, far too late for Alice.

                                                                 Alice and her parents put the funds toward her recovery.
                                                                 She got involved in The Silver Lining (,
                                                                 a London-based group that helps brain injury victims. As part
                                                                 of The Silver Lining’s outreach, Alice will be going to South
                                                                 Africa this summer to help children with brain injuries. While
                                                                 Alice still suffers from some short-term memory problems,
                                                                 she has found a job working part-time at a London newspaper.

                                                                 If you want to see The Silver Lining’s short film about Alice
                                                                 and her success go to

                                        RIGHTING WRONGS
                                        Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn’s Newsletter

                                        Founded in 1980, Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn focuses on catastrophic-injury, wrongful
                                        death, and employment cases. We develop innovative strategies and solutions to complex
                                        legal problems. Our firm welcomes referrals of serious personal injury, wrongful death, and
                                        employment cases from our clients, colleagues, and friends. We gladly share referral fees in
                                        accordance with the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

                                        TO :

    44 Montgomery Street
    Suite 4000
    San Francisco, CA 94104
    T. 415 398 5398
    F. 415 398 8169