Is a University Liable for Violence on the Campus?

The California Court of Appeals was scheduled  to hear oral argument on Friday, August 7, 2015 in a case filed in 2010 by Katherine Rosen against her attacker and UCLA, which is governed by the Regents of the University of California; at the time she was a UCLA student who was stabbed and had her neck slashed during a class in an unprovoked attack by a fellow student. In the criminal case against the defendant, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and placed in a psychiatric hospital, Patton State Hospital, for an indefinite period of time.

In the civil action the plaintiff argued the university failed to properly respond to warnings about the potentially violent behavior of the defendant. This was in contrast to the defense arguments that it was a random act of violence. Proponents of civil liability contend a university owes a duty to provide a safe environment to and protect its students from others on the campus, particularly those who get treatment from the college for mental health conditions. It is a sad reality that acts of cruelty that are plainly brutal and  inhumane have become a national scourge.

Did San Diego Sheriffs Use Excessive Force When They Killed a Suicidal Suspect?

On December 2, 2013, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of CHELSEY HAYES V. COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, Case #09-55644 , heard this civil rights Complaint brought under the Federal statute 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California law wherein a minor daughter alleged violations of her 14th and 4th Amendment rights and her deceased father’s 4th Amendment rights when San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies acted negligently in shooting and killing her father who allegedly was suicidal and wielding a knife during a response to a domestic violence call.

 In the underlying case, the Court said there was no evidence the sheriff’s fired their guns for any other purpose than self-defense and, therefore affirmed the District Court’s Decision by declaring there was no violation of plaintiff’s rights under the 14th Amendment. On the other hand, the Court reversed the lower Court after it determined a jury could conclude the use of deadly force by the sheriffs was not objectively reasonable and that under California law supported a basis for a wrongful death claim.

A compelling argument was made on behalf of Hayes that the sheriffs could have avoided the incident by obtaining more information about the suspect or requesting a psychiatric emergency response team (“PERT”) when the first deputy responded to a domestic violence call at a neighbor’s house and learned there had been no physical altercation, and before the second deputy arrived and they both entered the home. At that point it became a matter of whether the officers used excessive force.

The above reported Decision can be found at the following link:


Fire Officials Suggest Replacing Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are like having a spare tire in a car: you may never need or use it, but no one should drive a vehicle without a fully inflated spare tire. Most smoke and carbon monoxide alarms only need a battery to operate, but there are hard wired models as well. There currently are combination models that serve for both purposes, and many with a 10 year lithium ion battery. It appears these products have become more sophisticated and, therefore, seem to be more reliable. You can purchase some models that are interconnected so when one senses a problem all of them go off; newer models can be purchased that do not “chirp,” but actually have a voice alarm, and yet others have a strobe light that flashes as a warning.

Remember, it is important to use the “test” button on a regular basis and to change the battery at least one time a year unless you feel at ease with those that the manufacturer designates a 5 or 10 year battery. In addition, you should select the best date you will remember to change the battery, such as holiday (July 4th, Thanksgiving or New Years’ day, etc.). These products also have to be clean; and, when dust and debris accumulates, the alarm may not work or be delayed to the point it is not safe. All of the above factors help make your residence safer even if no smoking is allowed &/or you have a newer home.

Marine killed in fire during exercise at base

One Marine was killed and four were injured at Twentynine Palms during a training exercise. An Amphibious Assault Vehicle caught fire during the exercise.

The family may have a wrongful death claim if timely filed as the horrific injury may be a result of a product defect, or mechanical failure.  Choosing to immediately retain an attorney with experience in product liability cases can allow the investigators and forensic experts that would be employed by counsel to inspect the amphibious vehicle that caught on fire. Our attorneys use a team approach to evaluate and determine precisely and in what way the vehicle was dangerous, unsafe or defective. We both know and understand that no amount of money can replace a loved one or fully compensate for the loss of a human life; however,  we also know the family of the marine deserves the right to collect for this loss, and to send a message to the vehicle manufacturer to be accountable and so another such catastrophe does not occur now or in the future.

Number of cheerleading injuries increase

Cheerleading now accounts for 60% to 70% of all women’s sports injuries.

This is partially due to the greatly increased number of predominantly female cheerleaders, and partly because cheerleaders are now asked to perform many stunt-like routines, such as human pyramids and tumbling. These activities bring with them a greater risk of injury than simply waving a pom-pom.

Cheerleading injuries can be disabling or even fatal, especially as the cheerleaders grow older and learn more complicated routines. Though it is exciting to see cheerleading grow more rigorous and be treated as a sport equal to other team sports, it is also disheartening to hear that so many injuries come of it. Cheerleaders should remember not to push themselves beyond their abilities, and to warm up sufficiently before engaging in any routines or stunts. It seems more planning and preparation, the use of adequate mats and pads, as well as increasing the level of proper and continuous education and training of instructors must be given greater emphasis.


Trolley strikes person in Grant Hill

A person was sent to the hospital on Sunday after being struck by an MTS trolley.

The person, whose gender and name haven’t been released, had to be extricated from underneath the trolley by firefighters. The person was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital with what were described as major injuries.

Our hearts go out to the victim and the victim’s family in this difficult time.



Driver in Santaluz Stroller Crash Faces Multiple Charges

A woman in North County is facing charges of vehicular manslaughter, failure to stop at a red light, and failure to yield to a pedestrian.  The suspect is believed to have ran a red light at an intersection while the victim was pushing a 14-month old toddler in a stroller. The woman pushing the stroller suffered serious injuries and later died at the hospital. The toddler was hospitalized in intensive care for several injuries, including a broken rib and skull fracture.

Stories like these are difficult to hear. Unfortunately, these types of tragedies occur on a daily basis. Although no amount of monetary compensation can undo tragedy, our San Diego personal injury lawyers understand that financial compensation can help you pick up the pieces and begin your road to recovery.


Commentary by Personal Injury Lawyer Sam Spital:

“On February 11, 2013, the electronic edition of the UT San Diego reported seven individuals were injured when a San Francisco Cable Car came to an abrupt stop after hitting a loose bolt on the tracks; the bolts are intended to trigger an alarm and alert operators of an obstruction. Other sources reviewed by my law office noted the cable car system in general is checked nightly (apparently they are not very comprehensive in performing these tasks), however, this incident has raised the level of awareness and a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman stated they will make weekly checks to test the tightness of the bolts.

It is far too common for traffic lights &/or stop signs to be added at intersections and remedial efforts initiated by governmental agencies after an accident or injury. It strains credulity why more proactive measures are not taken to protect the safety and life of unsuspecting victims who rely upon and ride public transportation. Attorneys for the victims will likely obtain and use the maintenance records as a basis to establish negligence by the Municipality that operates the cable cars. A timely government claim must first be filed before initiating a lawsuit. It is not necessarily the issue of compensating victims, but to send a message to those in charge as well as city officials and the Mayor to prevent this and other situations from happening. The public deserves more when considering the potential risk of catastrophic injuries and of course the reason taxes are paid to support such activities.”

– Sam Spital

FAMILY OF SEAU SUES NFL OVER HIS BRAIN INJURIES – Wrongful-death suit says star suffered trauma while playing (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Sam Spital, San Diego Personal Injury Attorney:

“In the UT San Diego digital edition on January 24, 2013 it was reported the family of Junior Seau, a former Chargers Football player filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Football League and Ridddell, Inc. the manufacturer of official helmets for the NFL since 1989. The Superior Court lawsuit alleges the NFL knew for decades of the harmful effects of heat injuries on a player’s brain, and further the league ‘actively concealed these facts from the players and the public.’ In the lawsuit, the family also claimed negligence in the ‘design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing and engineering’ of the official NFL helmets.

On May 2, 2012, Junior Seau, a 43 year old Chargers linebacker, died of a self-inflicted gunshot. The article revealed Seau’s family and friends reported in the 29 months before his death, Seau suffered from multiple medical and psychological problems, naming alcoholism, gambling, sex addiction, depression, anxiety, insomnia and business failures that put him close to filing bankruptcy. After the family donated his brain to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), chronic traumatic encephalopathy and also known as boxer’s dementia (CTE) was discovered. This is a progressive and degenerative disease that most often is diagnosed after an autopsy in individuals with a history of multiple concussions.

The reporter interviewed attorneys for the NFL, but they issued a statement as is most often appropriate by saying they would respond ‘through the court’ system and not though the news media. It is likely they will argue, however, that Seau was never diagnosed with a concussion during his career as a football player and the plaintiffs cannot establish causation (a causal link between playing football and the alleged injuries sustained). While devastating injuries and deaths have soared, there may also be questions raised by the defense as to whether the players assumed the risk and/or signed a release of liability prior to engaging in this as in most other sports.

On the other hand, the plaintiffs may respond by arguing warnings were inadequate at best, and any waiver of claims were no more than adhesion contracts (take it or leave it since the players did not have the power to negotiate the terms).  At this time, there currently are about 4000 claimants in a class-action lawsuit filed against both the NFL and Riddell. In addition, during the last approximate seven (7) years, CTE has been found present in nearly every case in which an autopsy has been performed on former football players. These are heart wrenching cases, and we can only speculate as to whether it is possible to make football a safer sport.”

–Sam Spital

Woman dies after Alpine crash into tree (Sam Spital)


“On December 16, 2012, the UT San Diego online edition printed an article regarding a 53 year old woman who died as a result of her crash into the flatbed of a semi-truck as she changed lanes on Highway 8, and then ran off the road and crashed into a tree.

The family and/or one of the heirs may seek advice from a personal injury lawyer to evaluate whether to bring a wrongful death case. Even though one is primarily responsible for operating his/her vehicle in the proper way to avoid accidents, the potential defendants and theories of liability in such a lawsuit would be for any dangerous condition as a result of the design and maintenance of roads and highways by the city, county and state government respectively. In addition, the overall safety, as well as design and manufacturing defects of the vehicle the woman was driving can be the principal or actual cause or a contributing cause of her death. As reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Preventing, accidents sadly remain the fifth leading cause of deaths in the United States, coming after heart disease (#1), cancer (#2), chronic lower respiratory diseases (#3) and strokes (#4). See and the CDC website in general for a wealth of information related to public health issues and problems.”

–Sam Spital

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