Insight

Southern California in the Law

Courts in Southern California have continued to hear cases, many of them years-long battles that are still ongoing. Here is a look at some recent court cases in Southern California.

Southern California in the Law
GS

Gregory Sirico

November 19, 2021 07:05 AM

Gonzalez v. Mathis

In the mid-1990s, Luiz Gonzalez began working as a professional window cleaner for the Beverly Hills Washing Company. After gaining years of valuable experience on the job, Gonzalez started his own company. During his time at the Beverly Hills Washing Company, Gonzalez began working regularly for John Mathis, a resident and customer in the area. Mathis would continue to employ Gonzalez when he started his own company, hiring him consistently from 2007 to 2012. Over the years, Mathis, who owns a one story house with a flat gravel based roof and a skylight window, continually notified both Gonzalez and his employees of the risk involved due to the limited space available on the roof. The landing in question is 20 inches wide and sits about 20 feet off the ground, requiring Gonzalez to use to ladder in order to access the skylight. On August 1, 2012, Gonzalez was instructed by Mathis’s housekeeper to use less water while working on the skylight window but failed to do so resulting in substantial water damage to the roof. In the process, Gonzalez slipped off the ladder and fell off the landing, sustaining serious injuries. At the time of the accident, Gonzalez did not have workers’ compensation insurance and instantly filed a lawsuit against Mathis, claiming the accident was his fault for having a slippery gravel roof. Gonzalez’s claims were denied in 2013 due to both lack of evidence and protective measures on his end. Currently, Gonzalez is seeking both an appeal and compensation for any injuries sustained.

Brown v. USA Taekwondo

USA Taekwondo athletes Yasmin Brown, Kendra Gatt and Brianna Bordon started training for the Olympics in May of 2009 when they were just teenagers. Around that time, their coach Marc Gitelman, who travelled around the country with them 10 months out of the year, began making sexual advances towards the young athletes. From 2009 to 2015, Gitelman continued to sexually abuse his athletes until they decided to come forward to the authorities. Immediately following this news, USAT and the US Olympic Committee banned Gitelman from coaching and filed a civil lawsuit against him for sexual abuse of a minor. In January of 2015, Gitelman was arrested by authorities and stood trial in Los Angeles Superior Court where he was sentenced to four years in prison. Brown, Gatt and Bordon were all awarded $60 million and the USOC was not held liable for Gitelman’s actions. Currently, the victims are appealing that decision with the hopes that future safeguards can prevent cases of abuse like this from happening again.

Shalabi v. City of Fontana

In December of 2013, Luis Shalabi filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Fontana, California as well as several of its police officers, citing instances of civil right deprivation in the wrongful death of his father in 2011. During the time of his father’s death, Shalabi was a minor, requiring him to wait to file suit until he was at least 18 years old. Despite these time limitations, Shalabi filed suit just one day shy of clearing his two year time bar, pushing the possibility of a trial back even farther. After numerous appeals, the courts denied Shalabi’s claims, but failed to site an 1884 decision in the Ganahl v. Soher case. This case sites California Code Section 12 which states “the time in which any act provided by law is to be done is computed by excluding the first day, and including the last, unless the last day is a holiday, and then it is also excluded.” Simply put, Shalabi did not extend beyond the statute of limitations in the state of California by filing suit. Currently, Shalabi is still seeking justice for his father’s death against the City of Fontana.

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