Recently, partner Rob Bennett was successful in obtaining summary judgment in a Nevada County case. Rob represented a local homeowner in Truckee, California, who hired two men to remove snow off his second story roof in February, 2017. The men represented themselves out to be general contractors and had performed several jobs for Rob’s client previously. In the bid to secure the work, Rob’s client showed the contractors the location on his roof to remove the snow. In completing the work, the defendant had no input into how the job was completed. While removing the snow, a large piece shed off the roof, striking one of the plaintiffs and pushing him off to the ground two stories below. The second plaintiff was also struck and fell against the railing of the second floor balcony. As a result of the fall, the plaintiffs sustained serious injuries including one who suffered a compression fracture to his lumbar spine.
The contractors sued Rob’s client, alleging he failed to take proper precautions to protect the workers. Plaintiffs further alleged the roof was a dangerous condition. In discovery Rob secured significant factual admissions including agreement that both men were independent contractors as well as awareness by both of the dangers inherent in the work being performed. Rob then filed for summary judgment on behalf of his client asserting the plaintiff’s independent contractor status shielded his client from liability. Further, he argued there were no facts to confirm defendant contributed to cause the accident or failed to act, negating duty. Following briefing by the parties and oral argument, the court agreed, granting summary judgment and dismissing the lawsuit.
Prior to the litigation, the plaintiffs demanded $1,000,000 to resolve the case. By securing summary judgment Rob was able to not only vindicate his client’s conduct but he was also able to avoid the expensive work of defense at trial.
Rob has been with the firm for over 11 years and can be reached via phone at (916) 666 – 7776 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Stanislaus Superior Court matter arose following a motor vehicle collision that resulted in the death of both drivers, and significant injuries to a passenger. In this case, James represented the brother and sister-in-law of the deceased defendant who was killed in the accident. During the collision, a husband and wife were driving home when the deceased defendant, coming from the opposite direction of travel, crossed over the center divide resulting in a head on collision. In the subsequent wrongful death action the plaintiffs’ contended that the deceased defendant intentionally crossed the center divide based upon communications obtained via her cell phone. Plaintiffs further alleged that a special relationship existed between the deceased defendant and James’ clients – her family – that imposed a legal duty that required them to prevent the deceased defendant from driving or causing harm.
After completing significant discovery, James Schaefers filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of his clients. In the motion James asserted a special relationship did not exist between the family and the decedent defendant sufficient to support that the family had a legal duty. After opposition and oral arguments by the parties, the Court agreed that the plaintiffs could not establish that there was a special relationship, imposing a duty of the family of the deceased defense to stop her from causing any harm.
As a result of the motion, James’ clients were dismissed from the case and were able to recover their costs of defense to date. This saved his clients from significant exposure, while also personally vindicating their conduct.