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Wednesday
Jan282015

California Social Host Laws: Be Responsible; Beware Liability

Wrongful Death Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

Forget the drama, trash talk and player scandals that may have occurred this past year. The final football matchup of the season is coming, and there's a bigger issue at stake for those planning on throwing parties this weekend – that of social responsibility and liability.

Wrongful Death Liability

Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that party hosts may be held legally liable when an underage drinker causes harm to others. The ruling came in favor of a family of a college student who was killed by an underage drunken driver. The hostess of the party (who was underage herself) charged her guests $3-5 admission to help fund the party. The court said this cover charge essentially turned the party into a "pop-up nightclub", and thus made the hostess liable, as she sold alcohol to a minor.

Upon hearing the defense's arguments, the Court said among other things, that "a social host can retain her immunity by simply refraining from charging any of her invited guests."

As of 1978 the state legislature decided that liability for the death or injury of someone hurt or killed by a drunk driver falls on the driver, rather than on the private individual who provided the driver with alcohol, since most private parties have open bars where the guests serve themselves. But the law changed in 2011, with a new caveat: a host who knowingly serves alcohol to a minor, can now be held liable.

California Civil Code §1714(d) states:

(1) Nothing in subdivision (c) shall preclude a claim against a parent, guardian, or another adult who knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person whom he or she knows, or should have known, to be under 21 years of age, in which case, notwithstanding subdivision (b), the furnishing of the alcoholic beverage may be found to be the proximate cause of resulting injuries or death.

 (2) A claim under this subdivision may be brought by, or on behalf of, the person under 21 years of age or by a person who was harmed by the person under 21 years of age.

California Social Host Laws and Overindulging Adults

Though the laws for dram shops (businesses that sell alcohol) and social hosts generally protect those serving alcohol from liability, the vendor or host can still be held liable for serving a minor, as stated in Civil Code §1714(d) above; and may be found guilty of a misdemeanor, for serving "habitual or common drunkards" under Business and Professions Code §25602.

Even though over-serving drunkards may only constitute a misdemeanor, there's still the question of social responsibility. Just remember this rule of thumb for your Super Bowl party: more food, less alcohol, no charge…and never give alcohol to a minor.

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him by phone: (818) 907-3230, or by email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Wednesday
Oct082014

No Tricks: Halloween Safety Tips for All

Personal InjuryAccident Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

Halloween isn't usually our most dangerous holiday when it comes to safety on the roads. That infamy is generally attached to the "drinking" festivals like Thanksgiving, Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, according to the National Safety Council.

But this year, Halloween happens to fall on a Friday, which means many revelers won't have to get up early to get to work the following morning. Halloween parties are a lot more tempting when held on Fridays or Saturdays, than say, Tuesday.

Combine that factor along with the number of trick-or-treaters out on the road that evening plus the number of distracted drivers navigating pedestrian-crowded neighborhoods, and All Hallows Eve starts to look just a little scarier this year. With that in mind, we thought we'd share some Halloween safety tips, in the hopes of keeping you and yours celebrating in good health.

Pedestrian Safety:

  1. Add reflective tape to costumes and treat bags, particularly if the costume is dark-colored. Drivers will see you better if you're not blending into the shadows.

  2. Use a flashlight, or carry glow sticks.

  3. If wearing a mask, make sure it fits well. You want good peripheral vision to avoid stepping on your fellow ghouls and goblins and crossing the street. (Don't wear your mask while driving. You want good peripheral vision when behind the wheel too.)

  4. Keep clear of candles, especially if wearing flowing robes or other costumes that billow and trail.

  5. Remember the basics: Use sidewalks and crosswalks whenever possible, and look both ways before crossing.

Other Halloween Safety Reminders:

  1. Make sure costume accessories are soft and short. You don't want to trip others with swords and light sabers, or poke someone in the eye with Neptune's trident.

  2. Trick-or-treating is a "buddy" activity. Don't go alone, or let your kids go alone.

  3. Examine the goodies for tampering before consumption. Make sure you keep smaller children away from treats that may cause choking.

  4. Decorative contact lenses may cause eye injuries. If you must have cat eyes for the evening, at least spring for an optometrist's exam so you can get properly fitting lenses.

  5. Halloween makeup and accessories like fangs should be tested well in advance. Allergic reactions and mouth abrasions can really make mayhem of your holiday.

Remember, common sense is key. You've heard all or most of the above recommendations before, but sometimes in the spirit of the season, we tend to forget. Here's hoping you remember – and that you also have a safe, and Happy Halloween.

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com or by phone: (818) 907-3230.

Wednesday
Feb122014

California Family Law: Broken Promises, Broken Proposals

 

Who keeps the engagement ring?by Lovette T. Mioni

 

February 14th is considered the most romantic day of the year for many. Sometimes, romanticism spurs a compulsion to make a grand gesture, like a very public proposal. Whether public or private, about six million people expect or will offer a marriage proposal on Valentine's Day, according to CNN.

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry though, and that is often the case with proposals. In that situation, who gets to keep the ring?

General rules of etiquette imply that a fiancée return the engagement ring to the former intended when a wedding is called off, regardless of which party cancelled the wedding plans.

In California there is a law that addresses this issue. California Civil Code §1590 says:

Where either party to a contemplated marriage in this State makes a gift of money or property to the other on the basis or assumption that the marriage will take place, in the event that the donee refuses to enter into the marriage as contemplated or that it is given up by mutual consent, the donor may recover such gift or such part of its value as may, under all of the circumstances of the case, be found by a court or jury to be just.

This means that civil courts in California look at who broke the engagement. If an engagement ring donor breaks off an engagement, it is likely a court would rule that the recipient, anticipating marriage, may legally keep the ring. If the donee broke off an engagement, the donor has the right to legally reclaim the ring. 

If you are considering giving a very expensive engagement ring, or a family heirloom engagement ring, we recommend obtaining a prenuptial agreement that sets forth who will keep the engagement ring in the event of a break up. 

Contact one of our Divorce Attorneys for more information.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Friday
Nov152013

Holiday Parties | Top 10 Dos & Don'ts for Employers

Attorney for EmployersEmployer Defense Attorney

 

by Sue M. Bendavid
818.907.3220

 

You've heard the saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. You want to celebrate a year of company achievements. You want to reward your employees for their hard work and dedication. Maybe you just want to improve morale.

Whatever the case, celebrate with caution. Here are several common sense Holiday Rules for every employer:

  1. Create Atmosphere – Set a tone of moderation before the party, via emails, memos, etc., reminding employees to consume responsibly, have someone else drive, etc. Sometimes inviting the employees' family members and/or important company clients can keep an air of festivity AND responsibility.

  2. Respect Diversity – Do not host company parties for Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or anything with religious references. A Holiday Party or End-of-Year Event should be general enough to not offend.

  3. Making a List? Don't! – Don't make attendance mandatory, and don't take attendance at the party. It's certainly not very festive, but worse, it increases your liability risk.

    Keep in mind that if you give year-end awards or bonuses at the party, employees may infer they are obliged to attend.

  4. Coordinate Logistics – Consider holding the party off company premises, after working hours, and provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages. Close the bar at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end.  

  5. Limit Libations – Limit alcohol consumption.  Possible methods are to give employee drink vouchers, keep the bar open for a limited number of hours, or avoid serving alcohol altogether.

  6. Kill the Mistletoe – Keep it out of your offices and your parties. The last thing you want is to have an employee complain about a co-worker's unwanted advances. 

  7. Shot Calling? Another Don't! – During the work day, supervisors and managers call the shots. But they should never POUR them or any other alcoholic beverages during a company party.

  8. Hire Professionals: Not only will caterers or restaurant managers provide bartenders, they also have staff to clean up spills and generally keep the premises clean and safe.

  9. Provide Transportation – If you can't pay for taxi cabs and limos, organize carpools or designate drivers. Secure discounts at nearby hotels for employees with long drives, or those who do over-imbibe. 

  10. Anticipate Trouble – You can't do it all yourself. Designate supervisors to help keep an eye out for the overly-intoxicated, the overly-amorous, and the overly-rude.

Sue M. Bendavid is a Defense Lawyer for Employers. Contact her via email if you have any questions about minimizing liability risk and preventing employee claims: sbendavid@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Dec082011

Walmart Black Friday Gets Black Eye: An Injury Attorney’s Opinion

Injury AttorneyPremises Liability Lawyer Los Angeles 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

Was it just a coincidence that most, if not all, of the reported violence by shoppers on Black Friday occurred at Walmart stores?  Absolutely not.  The incidents did not just occur AT Walmarts, they occurred BECAUSE OF Walmart.

I hate to admit it, but I was at several different stores before and after midnight on Black Friday.  What else is there to do in Surprise, Arizona?  I was there visiting family for Thanksgiving.  At the request of relatives, and because there was nothing else to do, we checked out the Black Friday scene.

We visited Best Buy, Toys R Us and Kohls all before the start of their Black Friday sales that night.  At every store, there were at least 300 people in line outside.  The people were all in orderly lines controlled by store employees and security guards.

At the start of the sales at these stores, the people were not sent running in to fight others for merchandise.  They were allowed to enter the store in groups to make sure only a certain number of people were in together.  Additionally, tickets were passed out to those in line for the most popular items.  This also helped control the situation.

All these stores were a stark contrast to Walmart.

 

The Walmart Black Friday Frenzy

 

When I arrived at the Walmart store in Arizona, I found an absolutely packed parking lot — yet no one in line outside.  When I entered the store, I found out why.  Rather than closing the store and having customers line up outside, Walmart stayed open and crammed everyone into the store at once.

Instead of forming lines or passing out tickets, Walmart employees set up pallets of items throughout the store.  The merchandise was shrink-wrapped on pallets and mobs of people surrounded each pallet waiting for the start of the sale.

A Walmart employee explained that at the start of each sale (some items went on sale at 10:00 p.m. and others at midnight), the items would be unwrapped and customers would be set loose to fight for the merchandise.  When I asked if the store ever considered the potential frenzy and injuries, I was told, “Yes, that’s why we have ‘medics’ walking around.  Just look for the Walmart employees with the red backpacks if you get hurt.”

You see, it was apparent to me that Walmart knew, or should have known, what could, and what most likely would, happen.  In fact, they appeared to be counting on it

Walmart did not want prospective customers to see long lines outside and think they had no chance at a deal. They wanted them in the store believing that anyone who fought hard enough, still had a chance to get that Walmart-priced Xbox, TV, or even the $2 waffle maker.  For those surprised that customers were fighting over $2 waffle makers – I’m sure Walmart wasn’t.  They know their customers and appealed to them with these “bargains.”

Black Friday Shopping Safety

 

If anyone would have been seriously hurt during these sales, Walmart – in my opinion – would have been liable.  In California, store owners are subject to a duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.

All business owners must use reasonable care to protect their customers from being injured by dangerous conditions.  Not only did Walmart not protect customers from a dangerous condition (as we saw with the Pepper Spray Incident at a Walmart in Los Angeles), it can be argued that Walmart created the dangerous condition.

It’s easy to blame the “crazy people” shopping for Walmart Black Friday bargains.  But when you look deeper, you realize that Walmart was also responsible.  Let’s just hope next year no one is trampled in the frenzy, and that guns do not replace pepper spray.

David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Injury Attorney at Lewitt Hackman. You may reach him by e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

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