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Published Opinions

Mr. Barraza worked on the following cases that were appealed and resulted in published opinions.

California Supreme Court Opinion

Elsner v. Uveges, (2004) 34 Cal.4th 915.

This case arose from a construction site accident that resulted in serious injuries to the plaintiff who was working for a roofing subcontractor.  The accident occurred when a scaffold collapsed beneath him at a construction site in the City of Coronado. The case was filed against the General Contractor and alleged that the scaffolding built by the General Contractor violated Cal-OSHA provisions.  After the trial court refused to exclude references to Cal-OSHA provisions and their alleged violation, defendant appealed to the California Court of Appeals which reversed the trial court.  Plaintiff then filed a petition for hearing before the California Supreme Court which was granted.  The Supreme Court held that Cal-OSHA provisions could be used to establish a standard or duty of care in negligence actions against third party non-employers pursuant to Evidence Code §669, thus repealing the ban on the admission of Cal-OSHA provisions in third party negligence actions.

California Court of Appeals Opinions

Reyes v. Kosha Farms, (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 451

This case arose following the death of one man and serious injury to another during a fire in an encampment occupied by workers on land leased and farmed by defendant. In this case, the Appellate Court held that there were triable issues of fact as to whether the farm owner breached both common law duties and statutory duties imposed by the Employee Housing Act (Health & Saf. Code, fn. 1 § 17000 et seq.)  to provide workers safe housing, and whether such breach of duty was a legal cause of the death and injury to the plaintiffs. Accordingly, the Appellate Court reversed and remanded the case back to the trial court.

Thomas v. Duggins Construction Co., (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 1105

This case arose when two men were seriously injured when the platform on a scissor lift recently purchased by their employer became uncentered while being raised.  This caused the lift to tip over and the platform on which they were standing to collapse to the concrete floor 20 to 25 feet below.  The plaintiffs established and the jury concluded that defendant intentionally made false representations or failed to disclose important facts about the lift to plaintiffs’ employer when defendant sold the lift.  The issue presented in this case was whether an intentional tortfeasor was entitled to a reduction or apportionment of noneconomic damages under Proposition 51 (otherwise known as the Fair Responsibility Act of 1986 and codified in Civil Code sections 1431 to 1431.5) which would have reduced the amount of the Judgment awarded to plaintiffs.  The trial court concluded that an intentional tortfeasor was not entitled to such a reduction and the Appellate Court affirmed.  The Appellate Court held that Proposition 51 does not apply in favor of an intentional tortfeasor as against the plaintiffs or negligent tortfeasors and thus upheld the trial court’s refusal to apportion the plaintiffs’ noneconomic damages.