Wrongful Death in LAPD, $17.5M for Elderly Negligence, and Lawsuit Against United Airlines
California’s December News Round-Up Features LAPD Overtime Lawsuits, Celebrities Accused of Sex Offenses, and a Crime Spree
Californians concluded the year with historic rainfall and torrential storms. The inclement weather resulted in flooding on numerous roads and homes, leading to thousands of injuries and property damage, particularly in the southern region of the state. However, aside from the personal injury cases caused by the heavy rains, December 2023 was a challenging month for traffic accidents in California. These motor vehicle incidents reached their peak on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. While Christmas is not considered one of the deadliest holidays on the West Coast, it is in San Diego. The city has the fifth-highest number of fatal crashes during the December holidays.
Additionally, this month witnessed a relatively high number of personal injury lawsuits across various situations. Notable lawsuits include Activision Blizzard agreeing to pay a $54 million settlement in a gender discrimination lawsuit and a nurse winning a $41 million wrongful termination lawsuit that caused emotional distress.
Finally, crime in California does not seem to be improving in 2024. According to various analyses, the state has witnessed an increase in crime over the past two years. In fact, in 2022, California recorded an average of 499.5 reported violent crimes per 100,000 people, while the national average was 380.7. The data suggests that without new safety strategies such as increased police presence or community policing, the number of violent crimes will continue to follow the same trend as it did in 2023.
California Personal Injury News Highlights for December 2023
In this blog post, we will share with you the latest news from California. December 2023 highlights a significant number of lawsuits filed by victims who have suffered both physical and psychological injuries. We document cases of lawsuits filed by family members of police officers who have died as a result of negligence in the line of duty, as well as deaths resulting from irresponsible behavior by cops. There have also been several allegations of sexual abuse involving celebrities and a few cases of neglect of the elderly. We also provide an update on the number of road accidents that occurred over the Christmas period.
If at any time you are identified or have experienced a similar situation, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance. We can help you get the compensation you deserve for your losses by calling (800) 310-1606.
Multiple Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department
Practice Area: Wrongful Death
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the number of lawsuits has increased, particularly those related to wrongful death. Unfortunately, wrongful deaths happen more frequently than we realize – even in unlikely places. A woman has filed a lawsuit against a Chula Vista restaurant after her father was punched and kicked in the head while celebrating a recent promotion. The victim’s daughter, who died a week later in hospital from severe injuries, accuses the restaurant of gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. According to the lawsuit, restaurant staff removed the victim’s body from the dance floor “so the party could continue.”
Similarly, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is in a difficult position following the deaths of four deputies in 24 hours. This has led to several families filing wrongful death lawsuits based on the clear premise that the officers died after being forced to work overtime.
One of the claims has been filed by the family of Deputy Sheriff Arturo Atilano-Valdez, who is demanding $20 million against the county. The complaint alleges that years of prison work and forced overtime led to depression and, consequently, suicide.
The family of Officer Ryan Clinkunbroomer is also seeking $20 million in a similar legal action. The claim alleges that the officer was forced to work so much overtime that he became fatigued and was unable to stay alert to avoid threats. As a result, he was shot by a mentally ill man.
Police Negligence in Clovis Medical Episode
The city of Clovis has settled a $1.9 million wrongful death lawsuit. The complaint alleged that police mishandled their response to a medical incident at Isabel De La Torre’s residence, resulting in her death. Allegations include the use of unnecessary force by the police, involving a militarized lockdown and the deployment of a K-9 squad. The official report substantiated that her death was caused by the officer’s chokehold, resulting in blunt force trauma.
Police Misconduct Leads to Deaths in California
Practice Area: Police Misconduct
In another case of police negligence, a pedestrian was fatally struck by a Los Angeles police car in the southern part of the city. The head of the department has launched an official investigation after finding that the officer failed to use his emergency lights properly and was speeding before striking the victim.
Niani Finlayson is another victim of Los Angeles County police officers. The 27-year-old woman called 911 to report domestic violence by her ex-boyfriend, but was tragically shot multiple times by responding officers. According to police, Finlayson was holding a knife when they arrived, prompting Sheriff Deputy Ty Shelton to fire his weapon. Notably, this officer had previously been involved in a similar incident in which he fatally shot another civilian.
In a separate incident, an employee who used to work for Santa Clara County Sheriff, Laurie Smith, has filed a harassment complaint against her. Lara McCabe alleges that she was repeatedly harassed and intimidated while serving as a key witness in a corruption investigation against Smith. McCabe claims that no county employee protected her from Smith’s relentless acts of retaliation.
Lawsuits against Antioch Police for Racial Discrimination
The issue of police misconduct, particularly racial discrimination, has led to personal injury cases in California in December 2023. Specifically, in Folsom and Antioch. One interesting case involves a former Folsom police officer who was fired for sending racist text messages. This ex-officer is now suing his former colleagues for discriminatory comments he received in 2007.
However, the most significant lawsuit revolves around the Antioch Police Department. A new civil rights lawsuit, claiming racial profiling, has recently been filed and marks the third such case. This latest litigation represents seven individuals alleging various injustices such as negligent shootings, beatings, racially biased stops, and unjustified attacks involving police dogs. In total, twenty people are suing both the city and the police department. About forty-eight officers are implicated in the practice of racist policing, excessive use of force, and falsifying evidence.
Crime Continues to Rise in California
Practice Area: Assault
Unfortunately, attacks and assaults can originate from any place and anyone. As previously mentioned, crime rates in California have been escalating since 2020. According to multiple analyses and studies, there is a possibility of violent crime continuing to rise in 2024 if no action is taken.
In December 2023 alone, numerous incidents of violent assaults resulting in personal injury were reported across various regions of California. The following cases deserve special attention:
- An Indian couple was robbed at their home in Fullerton. They had just left a jewelry store in a white Tesla and were followed to their residence by a Honda Odyssey.
- A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries after being brutally assaulted in Long Beach. The perpetrator not only stole her personal belongings but also attacked her with a knife and severely beat her.
- A San Lorenzo man has been charged with kidnapping, robbery, and extortion of his Uber driver. The attacker reportedly made unwelcome sexual advances, forcefully kidnapped and robbed the driver at gunpoint, coerced him into making regular cash payments, and issued threats of deportation if the driver reported the incident.
- The celebrity news in this section involves Charlie Sheen and his neighbor. According to the LAPD, the actor was assaulted with a deadly weapon at his residence by Electra Schrock. Schrock was subsequently arrested for causing injury at Sheen’s home in Malibu, California in December 2023.
Long List of Celebrities Accused of Sex Crimes
Practice Area: Sexual Harassment or Abuse
Continuing the celebrity theme, the list of celebrities who have faced allegations of some kind of sexual misconduct this month is quite extensive.
- Vin Diesel has been hit with a lawsuit from a former assistant. The worker accuses him of sexually assaulting her over an incident that occurred when she worked for him in 2010.
- Opera singer David Daniels pleads guilty to sexual assault. The artist and his husband were charged with a second-degree felony for attacking singer Sam Schultz.
- Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee is accused of committing sexual assault. The alleged incidents took place in 2003 involving a woman in a helicopter.
California Schools, Hospitals Under Spotlight for Sexual Misconduct
There have been several news stories in recent months about sexual misconduct at hospitals and universities. In December 2023, there were new reports of incidents of a sexual nature once again impacting several institutions in California. One particularly noteworthy incident involved Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, which continues to attract media attention due to the actions of its former head of orthopedics, Dr. Louis Kwong. Now, accusations are surfacing against Dr. Darrell W. Harrington, a senior hospital official, for shielding the doctor from accountability regarding his sexual behavior. It is anticipated that additional lawsuits may be filed in the coming weeks.
On another note, December brought forth more scandals related to sexual misconduct at California State University. These events initially unfolded in 2014 with persistent complaints that led to the resignation of a chancellor and several high-ranking officials. Since then, the media has been questioning what happened to the rest of the accused individuals. The Los Angeles Times has pointed out the lack of a thorough investigation into the top leaders at Cal State.
California is The Worst State for Elder Abuse Protection
Practice Area: Elder Abuse
This month, Adamson Ahdoot has drawn attention to several news stories about elder abuse in California. Sadly, it is becoming more common in the state, as a study by WalletHub ranks California as the worst state when it comes to protecting against elder abuse.
However, despite the high number of reported cases in the Golden State, a growing number of seniors are succeeding in getting their claims addressed. One example is 77-year-old Annie Ma, who recently filed suit against Bank of America for failing to prevent fraudsters from stealing her life savings. Ma is suing both the bank and a branch employee for taking $690K from her. The lawsuit claims the bank “neglected its duty to its elderly customers” by allowing unusually large transfers from the victim’s account.
Meanwhile, a Los Angeles County jury recently announced its verdict in a negligence lawsuit against transportation company Access Service. The family of Guillermo Aviles was awarded $17.5 million in damages. According to court documents, an Access Service van driver failed to look after Aviles. The elderly man stumbled out of the vehicle, hit his head on the pavement, and passed away. The 61-year-old victim was undergoing dialysis treatment and was on his way to his home in Long Beach.
Negligence on a Spirit Airlines Flight and United Airlines Sued by First Class Passenger
Practice Area: Premises Liability
Sarah Depoian, a patient inseminated with her doctor’s sperm, has initiated legal proceedings against her doctor. According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred when the victim and her partner visited a fertility clinic in 1980. The doctor, Dr. Berger, covertly used his sperm to impregnate Depoian. His daughter, Carolyn Bester, became aware of this gross negligence after acquiring a DNA kit from 23andMe. Depoian’s lawsuit seeks compensation from Dr. Berger for damages and demands a trial.
In unrelated cases of extreme carelessness, there have been two instances at different airline facilities. A 6-year-old boy who was traveling on Spirit Airlines ended up in a different city than originally intended. The young traveler arrived in Orlando instead of Fort Myers, his designated destination. His grandmother, who has been denied a refund by Spirit Airlines, intends to sue for emotional damages.
In a separate incident, United Airlines is currently facing a lawsuit filed by a first-class passenger accusing them of sexual assault during a flight. The victim claims that the passenger sitting next to her engaged in unwelcome sexual touching. The legal complaint alleges that the crew served her up to nine alcoholic drinks.
Lawsuit Filed After Faulty Nail Gun Punctures Tongue and Skull
Practice Area: Product Liability
There has been a significant increase in the number of products causing personal injury cases in California during December 2023. While most companies manage to promptly recall their defective products, some have resulted in severe injuries that lead to lawsuits. One such case is that of Timothy Kualii, a carpenter from California. Kualii has filed a lawsuit against a power tool manufacturer due to a defective product. The worker underwent emergency surgery after his nail gun accidentally fired upwards, piercing his tongue and skull. As a result, the victim incurred medical bills totaling over $400K.
Among the products recalled due to potential injury and subsequent legal action are:
- 1.75 million Steamfast Home & Away travel steam irons have been recalled after 74 reports of fires, burns, or electric shocks.
- Empower Brands has issued a voluntary recall of 319,000 air fryers due to burn hazards.
- The CPSC has issued a warning about the risk posed by children’s magnetic balls sold by Temu.com. The agency has reported 2,400 choking incidents and seven deaths between 2017 and 2021.
- Coca-Cola has recalled 2,000 cases of Sprite, Diet Coke, and Fanta due to possible contamination in the cans.
- TGI Fridays fried chicken, sold by Kraft Heinz, has been recalled from supermarkets due to plastic contamination.
- Tesla recalls 120,000 cars for faulty doors and two million cars for Autopilot failures.
- Honda and Acura are recalling 2.5 million cars over a fuel pump defect.
- Toyota has warned one million vehicles about potential airbag problems.
Around 350 People Die on Christmas Day
Practice Area: Traffic Accidents
While December may not be the most tragic month of the year in terms of road fatalities, the last week of December typically witnesses a significant increase in motor vehicle accidents. Just like last year, the NSC estimates that approximately 350 individuals will perish on the roads on Christmas Day. Alcohol seems to play a prominent role in these untimely deaths. In fact, three individuals suffered serious injuries after a drunk driver drove into the crowd at the Bakersfield Christmas parade.
Another high-profile hit-and-run incident occurred in Redwood City. A pedestrian who was crossing the street was tragically struck by two vehicles. While the driver of the first car stopped and cooperated with law enforcement, the second driver fled from the scene. Eventually, the driver was apprehended and charged with felony hit-and-run.
One of the most heartbreaking incidents unfolded in Antioch. The driver of a speeding van fled after colliding with another vehicle. As a result, two young siblings, aged 12 and 13, lost their lives, and their father remains in critical condition.
Celebrities Involved in Traffic Accidents
December was a busy month for Californian celebrities in terms of car crashes.
- Alan Ruck, the star of ‘Succession’, is facing a lawsuit over a multi-car accident. Ruck crashed his vehicle into a Hollywood pizzeria.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger is being sued by a woman who claims she is permanently disabled after an incident involving the actor two years ago.
- Comedian Kenny DeForest is tragically killed in an e-scooter accident at the age of 37.
- Michel B. Jordan wrecks his Ferrari 812 Superfast while racing another luxury car in Hollywood. Video footage shows Jordan losing control of his vehicle and crashing into a parked Kia Niro on the street. Both cars sustained extensive damage.
Call us if You Need Legal Help in California
The injuries and deaths that occurred in California in December 2023 can happen to anyone. Being involved in a multi-car accident, having your grandparents suffer from financial fraud, or being the victim of premises negligence are all common situations today. If you or someone in your family has had a similar experience and is seeking compensation for pain and suffering, do not hesitate to call us.
Adamson Ahdoot specializes in obtaining the financial compensation that injured victims deserve. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, we are one of the most reputable law firms in California.
With a bilingual team available 24/7, you can speak with our experts today by calling (800) 310-1606 or submitting your case online.
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