• Case Updates5.23.23

    A tenant's risky decision to drop from the roof to his balcony was potentially within the scope of foreseeable dangers a landlord has the duty to protect tenants from. In the case of Razoumovitch v. 726 Hudson Avenue, LLC, the court reminded the parties that California law imposes a general duty on everyone, including property managers, to take reasonable care to keep others safe. In this case. the landlord did not successfully show that a public policy exception changed that duty. The court concluded that the granting of summary judgment was not proper because foreseeability may not be determined as a matter of law, but rather was a question for a jury to determine.

  • Trial Results5.22.23

    The team of Michael Partos, Mary Dzharatanyan, and Rudolf Petrosyan from our Glendale office have successfully secured a summary judgment in favor of our client in a high-profile assault case involving a celebrity’s security guard.

  • Case Updates5.16.23

    If the person suing can't afford to pay, defendants may be required to pick up the tab. Nursing home that successfully compelled arbitration proceedings with family of decedent client was required to pay for all fees and costs or waive arbitration, where the patient was indigent. Hang v. RG Legacy I, LLC, No. G061265 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 8, 2023). 

  • Trial Results5.9.23

    We are thrilled to announce that Caroline Hopkins has secured a major victory for her client in a recent arbitration case in the state of Oregon. The case involved a claim for property damages for repairs stemming from construction-related activities. Caroline successfully defended our client, ultimately receiving a defense verdict!

  • Case Updates5.5.23

    Can a public entity rely upon design immunity where the public entity failed to warn of a design element that resulted in a dangerous condition of a roadway? In Tansavatdi v. City of Rancho Palos Verdes (S267453) 60 Cal. App. 5th 423, the California Supreme Court examined whether the design immunity found in California Government Code section 830.6 extends to claims alleging that the public entity failed to warn of a design element that resulted in a dangerous condition and held that public entities still "retain a duty to warn of known dangers that the roadway presents to the public."

  • Case Updates5.5.23

    Illinois lawmakers passed the Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which was signed by Governor Pritzker on March 13, 2023 and will become effective on January 1, 2024. This new legislation is significant because it requires employers to allow paid leave for any reason or no reason at all. The only other states in the nation with type of mandate so far are Maine and Nevada.

  • Case Updates5.1.23

    Amid nationwide hesitance by courts to extend business coverage to businesses that shut down during COVID, Coast Restaurant Group came closer to winning its case than most. In the case of Coast Rest. Grp. v. Amguard Ins. Co., No. G061040, 2023 Cal. App. LEXIS 269 (Ct. App. April 10, 2023), although the court agreed that the government shutdown qualified as a "direct, physical loss" under the policy, the existence of a virus exclusion as well as a clause specifically excluding coverage for loss caused by an ordinance or law foiled Coast Restaurant's hopes of getting Amguard to pay up. This ruling is significant because it effectively splits the opinion of the appellate courts on this issue and leaves more wiggle room for trial courts on this issue.

  • Case Updates4.26.23

    The Supreme Court of the United States in Bartenwerfer v. Buckley, NO. 21-908, Slip Opinion, 506 U.S. _(2023), resolved split opinions in the circuit courts regarding the fraud exception to the discharge of debts in the Bankruptcy Code. SCOTUS established a precedent favoring fraud victims by preventing those who not only perpetrated the fraud, but also those who benefited from it, from having the capability to discharge that debt in bankruptcy. In this case, a wife who was unaware of her husband's fraudulent activity in selling their home with known defects that he failed to disclose, was not permitted to discharge her portion of a judgment for damages against the couple in bankruptcy. The court found that to rule otherwise, would shield those who potentially benefitted from the fraud and allow them to escape liability.

  • Case Updates4.23.23

    Biometric data is an emerging trend, and jurisdictions around the nation have been enacting statutory schemes. These statutes are now getting tested, and we are starting to see a growing body of case law. On March 31, 2023, the court held that an insured was entitled to coverage for claimed expenses it incurred in an Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) class action lawsuit.

  • Trial Results4.21.23

    WSHB is showing up for its clients in a big way in the courtroom! The construction community has been buzzing with anticipation since Plaintiff appealed a ruling of the Superior Court in a case with important implications for developers and general contractors throughout the state of California. We are thrilled that the Appellate Court issued its decision and affirmed the order of the Superior Court.

  • Case Updates4.21.23

    It is the Oregon Supreme Court's turn to answer the question addressed in many courts across the country. Do losses related to COVID-19 constitute direct physical loss or damage to property under a commercial general liability insurance policy? Oregon Clinic PC v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. No. 22-35047 (9th Cir. 2023) tackled this question after the U.S. District Court in Portland granted the insurer's motion to dismiss finding that COVID did not qualify as physical loss under the insurance policy. On appeal, the court determined that it needed further guidance before coming to a final decision.

  • Case Updates4.17.23

    Can you sue a business for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act even if you've never actually patronized it? Federal appellate circuits around the country have answered this question differently. To resolve this circuit split, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Laufer v. Acheson Hotels, LLC, 50 F.4th 259 (1st Cir. 2022). The case involves the question of whether or not a plaintiff has standing under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") to sue a hotel for failing to provide information regarding its accessible accommodations. The plaintiff – who never planned to stay at the hotel and never visited the property – claimed she had "standing," or the legal ability to file a lawsuit, because she qualified as someone who "tested" whether businesses around the country violated the ADA.

  • Case Updates4.12.23

    The Third Appellate District Court of Appeal has issued a decision in which it found that an indemnitee defense clause contained within a general liability insurance policy affords the indemnitee mere status as an incidental third party beneficiary, and that such an indemnitee lacks standing to sue the carrier to provide a defense. LaBarbera et al. v. Security National Insurance Company, C093414 (Super. Ct. No. 34-2019-oo248873-CU-IC--GDS).

  • Appellate Results4.11.23

    Partner Stephen Caine was called in at the eleventh hour to represent the client in a request for a new trial. The case involved a negligence claim in which a hired party coordinator fell from an unprotected balcony attached to an “architecturally significant” house owned by our client, resulting in moderate soft tissue damage and three transverse process fractures of spinal spurs. The jury returned with a liability verdict of $1,686,493.46 (which was mostly made up of noneconomic damage award of $1,187,400); reduced by 33% for comparative fault, which created a net award to Plaintiff against our client of $1,179,859.96.

  • Case Updates4.10.23

    COVID-19 business interruption claims have surged nationally since the beginning of the pandemic. The majority of these claims have been unsuccessful for policyholders. However, in Cajun Conti LLC v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, 2023 La. LEXIS 563 (La. Mar. 17, 2023), the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that COVID-19 constituted "a direct physical loss of or damage to" the insured's New Orleans restaurant. The insurer appealed the Fourth Circuit’s ruling to the Louisiana Supreme Court, who reversed and affirmed what most courts around the country have held – COVID-19 does not constitute physical loss or damage triggering insurance coverage.

  • Trial Results4.7.23

    Managing Partner of WSHB’s San Diego office, Wyeth Burrows, commanded the court as he secured a defense verdict on behalf of a trucking company and its driver. 

  • Case Updates4.6.23

    In Williamson v. Evans Nail and Spa Corp., 2023 IL. App. (1st) 220084, the appellate court reversed the trial court's order granting summary judgment for the defendant-nail salon finding that plaintiff provided sufficient evidence to create an issue of fact on whether the failure of the defendant to provide: (1) a handrail was in violation of a local ordinance and (2) a sufficient slip resistant mat surrounding a pedicure pedestal created an unreasonably dangerous condition. The appellate court determined that the plaintiff had brought sufficient evidence to create a fact question regarding proximate cause in her slip and fall litigation.

  • Case Updates4.3.23

    Gig companies, Uber and Postmates, successfully obtained a revival of their claim in federal court alleging that California A.B. 5 unfairly disadvantages app-based ride and delivery services. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Olsen v. State of California, No. 21-55757, 2023 WL 2544853, at *2 (9th Cir. Mar. 17, 2023). found that the plaintiffs "plausibly alleged" that the main motivation behind A.B. 5 in the California legislature was to disadvantage companies like Uber, Postmates and similar gig-based businesses in violation of equal protection. 

  • Case Updates3.28.23

    In Hoffmann v. Young, et. al, (2022) 13 Cal.5th 1257, the California Supreme Court held that a teen's parents were liable for injuries sustained by a guest while riding a motorcycle on the motocross track built on their property. The court found that the exception to the recreational immunity defense (Civil Code Section 846(a)) does not apply when the injured party was expressly invited by an agent of the landowner whom the landowner has properly authorized to extend invitations to enter the land on their behalf.

  • Case Updates3.28.23

    In Brianna Garza and Mario Garza v. Matthew Perry and American Family Insurance Company, No. 83377-4-I, the Washington Court of Appeals determined that an insurance company could not intervene in an action intending to nullify a settlement agreement involving a covenant judgment. The court denied the insurer's attempt to nullify the covenant judgment settlement because it was not a party to the agreement, and upheld the lower court's approval of the agreement through a reasonableness hearing.

  • Case Updates3.27.23

    In the case of River's Side at Washington Sq. Homeowners Assn. v. Superior Court, 3d. Cir. No.C095860 (2023), a homeowners association successfully argued that it had standing to sue for construction defects on behalf of individual unit owners. Under the Right to Repair Act, homeowner associations do not have standing to sue on behalf of members for construction defects within individual units, but may sue for defects in the common areas. In this case the court distinguished between claims brought under the Right to Repair Act and claims for breach of contract or fraud. If those claims qualify as representative actions, then the association may have standing to sue for issues in the common areas as well as the individual units pursuant to section 382 of the California Civil Code.

  • Case Updates3.27.23

    In the case of Tufield Corporation v. Beverly Hills Gateway, Case No. B314862 (2022), the court got back to basics in this landlord-tenant dispute. It found that a lease exceeding 99 years is void under the law as a suppression of California public policy encouraging the free exchange and development of land. The primary issue on appeal is whether a lease that violates Civil Code section 718 is void or voidable and is essentially an issue of first impression. The court held that the part of the lease exceeding 99 years was void.

  • Case Updates3.9.23

    What happens when an injury doesn't surface until fifty years later? The case of Ramirez v. Avon Products, Inc. (2023) Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. 20STCV22671 Case No. JCCP 4674, discusses this conundrum. It analyzes how courts have dealt with the issue of witness testimony where few at the corporation ever had personal knowledge of policies and procedures regarding the disputed claim at the time the incident took place. Testimony of the "Person Most Knowledgeable” does not earn businesses a pass on the hearsay rules.

  • Trial Results3.6.23

    WSHB partners Christopher Heo and Jack Pemberton succeeded in their motion for summary judgment on behalf of the client, a resort vacation club, accused of negligence and premises liability after a patron was injured in a slip and fall incident.

  • Trial Results3.6.23

    In a spectacular win, Partner Keith Smith and Senior Counsel Courtney Jakofsky, successfully obtained summary judgment and a dismissal in a general negligence and premises liability case filed against their general contractor and owner clients by an employee of a subcontractor working on the project.

  • Appellate Results3.6.23

    In an appeal involving new evidence supposedly discovered after entry of judgment and allegations of procedural irregularities, the WSHB team rallied for the clients on appeal and successfully defended the trial court's grant of a summary judgment motion and denial of plaintiff's subsequent new trial motion. WSHB's Nick Gedo (Of Counsel in the Glendale office) vigorously represented the clients, securing an affirmation of the judgment in their favor.

  • Trial Results3.3.23

    In a highly contested matter, Arizona partner Jodi Mullis successfully argued a motion for summary judgment decided in favor of the client. This case arose out of a construction project for an assisted living facility. WSHB's client was the contractor for the project and entered an AIA Document A 102-2017 Standard Form Agreement. A fireplace subcontractor was retained to install and/or construct the fireplaces and chimneys at the facility. Construction on the project was completed in December 2020, and several weeks later a fire caused significant damage to the property. The plaintiff claimed that it suffered $2,777,183.40 in damages as a result. This amount included damage to real property, personal property, the cost of rehousing residents and loss of business income. Of the claimed loss only $713,172.00 was not covered by insurance.

  • Trial Results2.24.23

    WSHB partner Joel Odou and associate Laura Bown secured a tremendous win for the client after arguing a successful motion for summary judgment before the court. In a case involving respondeat superior issues, the court found that the employer was not liable for the tortious actions of an employee that occurred after an off-site work event had ended at a local bar and restaurant.

  • Case Updates2.23.23

    Under fee-shifting statutes, a trial judge must award fees to the prevailing party regardless if the prevailing party will actually be responsible for paying the fees. In Cell-Crete v. Federal Insurance Co. (2022) WL 4103354, the surety on a construction project argued that it was owed attorney fees and costs under the fee-shifting statute even though it did not actually pay any of the fees or costs. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the trial court's order to deny the surety's requests for those fees.

  • Case Updates2.22.23

    In Regan Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. v. Arbella Protection Insurance Company, Inc., No. 2020-170-Appeal (Jan. 27, 2023), the Rhode Island Supreme Court, on the facts before it, expanded the obligations of insurers to examine potential policy ambiguities. In short, the Court found that "diversity of judicial thought" as to the meaning of insurance policy language is "proof positive of ambiguity." The implications for insurers are unclear at the moment, but at least on these facts – whether oil was a "pollutant" and thus losses arising from an oil spill were excluded – the Court has now determined that insurance policy contract language may be considered ambiguous where its treatment differs across various jurisdictions. This decision may now impose a duty on insurers to examine how other states treat relevant policy language before making coverage decisions.

  • Trial Results2.22.23

    Congratulations are in order for WSHB Nevada office managing partner Janice Michaels and senior associate Xheni Ristani who on a summary judgment win for the firm's client.

  • Case Updates2.17.23

    Insurance companies may not automatically be off the hook when it comes to coverage for resulting damages stemming from faulty construction. In Gardens Condo v. Farmers Ins. Exch., No. 83678-1-I (Wash. Ct. App. Dec. 19, 2022), the court found that a resulting loss clause in an all-risk insurance policy may provide a condominium complex insurance coverage from damages caused to units by faulty construction of the roof. The resulting damages were covered perils and thus, potentially covered by the policy.

  • Case Updates2.17.23

    In a pivotal decision, the National Labor Relations Board in Thryv, Inc. and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1269 Cases 20-CA-250250 and 20-CA-251105, appears to have expanded the potential exposure for employers in actions brought claiming violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Signaling a shift from prior agency interpretation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has now said that the NLRA's "make whole remedy" requires employers in violation of the law to compensate affected employees for all "direct or foreseeable pecuniary harms" suffered as a result of the respondent's unfair labor practices.

  • Trial Results2.13.23

    In a high-profile suit involving the City of New York, the NYC Department of Buildings, a former mayor, several lobbying firms and some of NYC's largest real estate developers, Senior Counsel John Darminio decisively secured a dismissal of our client, a large New York City commercial real estate consulting firm.

  • Case Updates2.13.23

    In the case of Norg v. City of Seattle, No. 100100-2 (Wash. 2023), the Supreme Court of Washington answered the question of whether the public duty doctrine insulates the City of Seattle from liability for a 911 response to the wrong address. The Court held that the City was not protected by the public duty doctrine where the harm was particularized and not related to general public duty.

  • Case Updates2.6.23

    Though attempts to contractually waive an employee's right to sue pursuant to the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) typically fail in court, a narrow, but important exception to this rule are collective bargaining agreements involving construction workers. In Oswald v. Murray Plumbing & Heating Corp., No.B312736, 2022 Cal. App. Lexis 752 (Ct. App. Sep. 2, 2022), the Court of Appeal found that because the collective bargaining agreement at issue addressed wage and hour provisions, working conditions, and grievance procedures, and specifically mandated arbitration of disputes regarding Labor Code violations, the denial of the plaintiff's right to sue under PAGA was warranted. Consequently, the Court of Appeal found that all employment claims, including those claims under PAGA, should have been submitted to arbitration for resolution in accordance with the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.

  • Case Updates2.6.23

    In the case of Gulf Coast Center v. Curry, Case No. 20-0856 (Tex. 2022), the Supreme Court of Texas found that courts may not render a judgment that exceeds the statutory damage cap under the Texas Torts Claims Act and a plaintiff seeking recovery under the Act has the burden to prove which cap applies. The plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the trial court had jurisdiction to render a judgment exceeding the minimum statutory cap. The Texas Supreme Court reduced the $216,000 judgment finding that the Act requires lower courts to cap damages when the defendant is a local government or governmental unit, even if the issue wasn't brought during trial.

  • Case Updates2.6.23

    The Texas Supreme Court handed down an opinion on January 27, 2023 in Taylor Morrison of Texas, Inc. v. Skufca. A trial court denied a motion to compel arbitration that involved breach of contract claims brought by Jack and Erin Skufca, along with their minor children alleging construction defects with their new home. The Court of Appeals upheld the denial. In reversing, the Texas Supreme Court held "that the Skufcas' petition, which did not distinguish between the parents' claims and the children's claims, unambiguously reflects the children as joining their parents in asserting the breach-of-contract claim and that the children therefore may be compelled to arbitrate."

  • Trial Results2.3.23

    The Georgia Bulldog’s repeat National Championship has nothing on the Atlanta office of WSHB! Since December 1st, our superstar Atlanta team has secured five Motion for Summary Judgment rulings. Take a closer look at what's happening in the Peach State.

  • Appellate Results1.25.23

    In a contentious case involving allegations of negligent maintenance, inspection and security against an apartment complex owner, the Appellate Court of New Jersey affirmed the lower court's decision granting the defendant's motion for summary judgment. WSHB’s team, including partners Jill Mucerino and Kelly Waters, successfully argued that the property owner had no duty to prevent injuries sustained by plaintiff tenant resulting from a physical altercation in the complex’s parking garage and, thus, was not liable. They argued that the altercation was not foreseeable and, therefore, was not within the scope of the duty owed by the owner to plaintiff. The Appellate Court, conducting a de novo review of the trial court’s decision, agreed.

  • Trial Results1.6.23

    In a high-exposure wrongful death case, WSHB has succeeded in a motion for summary judgment in favor of all three WSHB-represented clients. WSHB partner Andrew Mallon and the team at the Orange County branch fought zealously for their clients to obtain the big win.

  • Case Updates12.29.22

    In Venema v. Moser Builders, Inc., 2370 EDA 2021 (Pa. Super. Ct. Aug. 29, 2022), the Superior Court held that the Statute of Repose was not tolled by repairs made several years after the certificate of occupancy was issued. Homeowners are not entitled to unilaterally dictate an extended window to file suit because a builder complies with the agreement in good faith and makes repairs years after the original purchase date.

  • Trial Results12.29.22

    Thomas Vandenburg and Rudolf Petrosyan from our Glendale office have secured a summary judgment in favor of our client in a product liability case.

  • Trial Results12.20.22

    In a case before the Ninth Circuit, WSHB attorneys Tom Vandenburg and Nick Gedo successfully argued that the district court erred in refusing to grant intervention in a complex environmental tort case in which WSHB represented the insurers of a defunct defendant.

  • Case Updates12.13.22

    The court in De Leon v. Juanita's Foods, Inc., No. B315394 (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 23. 2022) made it clear that if a business or employer fails to pay its arbitration fees on time, it will be found in material breach of the arbitration agreement. Juanita's Foods paid its arbitration fees a few days late and despite its assurances that payment was coming and a subsequent payment in fact made, the court held that it was in material breach and refused to consider any other factors to mitigate the late payment. Following clear precedent, the clear language of the statute, and stated legislative intent, the court found that Code of Civil Procedure sections 1281.97 and 1281.98 provide a bright line rule that courts must follow to the letter.

  • Trial Results12.6.22

    WSHB senior associate Zachary Fletcher secured a defense verdict for our Condominium Association client. Notably, plaintiff claimed damages of over $5.5 million and potential exposure in excess of $8-10 million. Before trial, Plaintiff issued a non-negotiable $1,350,000 settlement demand, which we flatly rejected. Zack’s analysis was validated by the jury, who deliberated for about one hour before returning with a defense verdict following the three-day trial.

  • Appellate Results12.6.22

    The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has affirmed the granting of summary judgment by the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, in favor of out-of-possession residential landlords who were represented by Andy Kessler, a partner in WSHB’s Philadelphia Office. The Plaintiff, who was 22 years old at the time of the event, attended a birthday party at a residential rental property and later in the evening sustained catastrophic injuries when he was savagely beaten by a mob who “crashed” the party.

  • Trial Results11.30.22

    Following a week-long hearing, a three-person Panel of Arbitrators dismissed Claimant's allegations that WSHB's client violated several provisions of state and securities laws, seeking $1.4 million in damages, in favor of our client.

  • Case Updates11.29.22

    In a case of first impression, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Norman International, Inc., and Richfield Window Coverings, LLC d/b/a Niem Made (USA), Inc. v. Admiral Insurance Company, 251 NJ 538 (2022) enforced a Designated New York Counties Exclusion included in a commercial general liability insurance policy issued by Admiral Insurance Company ("Admiral"). In so holding, the Supreme Court found that the policy's broad and unambiguous language did not require a causal relationship to trigger the exclusion. Rather, any claim "in any way connected with" the insured's operations in an excluded county fell within the exclusion. Additionally, Admiral had no duty to defend a claim that it was not obligated to indemnify. The determination of whether Admiral had a duty to defend was not determined solely by the allegations of the complaint. Instead Admiral relied upon facts adduced during discovery indicating that in certain instances an insurer may use extrinsic evidence to deny a defense to its insured. The Supreme Court recommended that going forward, in similar situations, courts should indicate when an issue requires consideration of facts beyond the complaint.

  • Case Updates11.17.22

    A New York City eviction court denied a motion for summary judgment, ruling that a tenant in a polyamorous relationship with the lease holder was entitled to the same eviction protections as those in two-person relationships. In its denial of summary judgment, the court found that the holdover tenant may be entitled to take the lease in his name after the death of his partner. What could the recognition of polyamorous relationships mean not only for property disputes in the future, but for employers and insurance carriers moving forward?

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