Traffic Collision; Auto versus Auto; Four Way Stop Sign; Squad Car Surveillance; Underinsured Motorist, Policy Limit Settlement
Two occupants of a mid-sized sedan are struck broadside by a large pickup truck in a four-way intersection regulated by stop signs, sustaining significant neck and back injuries requiring courses of medical treatments consisting of: pain medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and epidural steroid injections, with forecasted future needs for surgery. The collision was recorded by a nearby Laguna Beach Police Department patrol vehicle camera; the responding police officer observed the collision.
Robert McMahon was retained to seek compensation for the injured vehicle occupants. The at-fault party's insurance carrier settled at an early stage for its policy limits. Assets of the at-fault party were investigated prior to settlement and the at-fault driver was determined not to be acting within the course and scope of employment.
An "underinsured motorist claim" was asserted on behalf of the occupants. The insurance carrier initially resisted settlement of the claims and the matter proceeded to binding arbitration, pursuant to the terms of the automobile insurance contract and California statute. The arbitrator awarded the available policy limits to each of the injured parties and the claims paid.
Unattended Auto versus Pedestrian - Negligent Failure to Set Parking Brake
A Laguna Beach resident parks in the parking lot of a large retailer in Aliso Viejo, California and exits her vehicle. Another patron parks a vehicle, exits and walks into the store; this vehicle then starts a roll across the sloped parking lot, gaining speed, running down and on top of the resident, pinning her beneath the vehicle, sustaining multiple injuries including fractures and abrasions, emergency transport, hospitalizations and convalescent care for weeks. The incident is recorded on the store's security video camera system. Robert McMahon was retained, the suit was filed and an expedited trial date was granted by the court. The case was settled months prior to trial through negotiation.
Hospital Fall Risk Management
A hospital inpatient, with physician "full fall risk" orders, is allowed by hospital staff to ambulate without assistance. The patient describes sliding in the restroom and is not able to arrest her fall; she fractures her prosthetic knee, requiring its emergency surgical replacement, rendering her permanently disabled. Mr. McMahon was retained to represent the injured party. The settlement was achieved prior to trial.
Construction Defect; Fraudulent Failure to Disclose Conditions of Real Property; Title Insurance Company Claim
The recent buyer of a Santa Ana Heights hillside multi-level view home retained Robert McMahon for representation related to his purchase of the property. The home was built by construction contractors as a "spec house." Entry to the home was gained from the top level and retaining walls had been constructed with soil compacted against the walls of the lower structure. The home leaked. Mr. McMahon sourced a geologist and contractors to rehabilitate the new home, cure the leaking and improve the drainage. The sellers/contractors were sued and a significant judgment obtained against the sellers/contractors.
This was not the end of the buyer's legal headaches. A significant time after the new buyer closed escrow, the holder of a mortgage recorded after the issuance of a preliminary title report, but before close of escrow, sought payment of a large note secured by a trust deed just prior to new buyer's close of escrow. The holder of the mortgage was a hard money lender to the sellers/contractors; it was demanded that the mortgage be paid to avoid foreclosure. Robert McMahon asserted a title claim under his client's title insurance policy. The mortgage was ultimately paid after initial resistance by the title insurance company.
Conditional Use Permit- Laguna Beach Business
Business owners seeking to open a business in Laguna Beach were contacted by a City of Laguna Beach Code Enforcement Officer informing them that the current operation of their business did not conform to City zoning ordinances; further they were in violation of certain conditions set forth in a Conditional Use Permit (C.U.P.) issued by the City. Mr. McMahon was retained and a variety of issues raised by the City were resolved to gain approvals necessary to the operation of the business. A former state Fire Marshal was sourced as a consulting expert. After hearing before a City governing body, modifications were reached to allow the operation of the business. Mr. McMahon also assisted the business owners' in negotiations with their landlord to obtain his consent to the conditions set forth in the modified C.U.P.
Contractor Defense - Condominium Project
Litigation was initiated by a property developer constructing a multiple-unit condominium project in Laguna Beach. Numerous design deficiencies were called to the developer's attention by the general contractor, delaying the project and requiring the processing of plan corrections and revisions through the City of Laguna Beach. The developer sued the original project designer and architect approving the plans. Inevitably, the contractor was named in the litigation. The contractor retained Robert McMahon. After depositions, Mr. McMahon's client was dismissed from the case. The developer obtained a judgment against the project designer and architect.
Drainage Dispute - Laguna Canyon
After record rainstorms and flooding in Laguna Canyon, two allied upstream real property owners asserted claims against an elderly downstream property owner of a large parcel of land straddling a drainage course, asserting that the drainage through the lower property was not adequate. The downstream property owner retained Robert McMahon.
Civil engineers were retained by each side to evaluate the drainage conditions. Research revealed that, under an old unenforced court judgment, a prior owner of the downstream property was to construct an open concrete drainage culvert (a moat running through the middle of the downstream property, impairing access and marketability). The old judgment was likely not enforced after Caltrans constructed drainage major drainage improvements beneath Laguna Canyon Road.
Mr. McMahon obtained a bid for the installation for a closed-conduit 60-inch concrete pipeline, and consulted a real estate appraiser; his client agreed that installing the large underground drainage pipe would enhance the value of his real property, improve the drainage across the property, and resolve the claims of the upstream property owners. The drainage pipe was installed pursuant to permits issued by the City of Laguna Beach, thereby resolving the pending lawsuit.
DUI - Defense Jury Verdict
In the early morning hours defendant is contacted by law enforcement, seated alone on the curb at the scene of a single-car, non-injury collision. Defendant is observed by law enforcement to be intoxicated; he is arrested and taken into custody. Charges are filed against the Defendant for Driving Under the Influence. Mr. McMahon was retained by Defendant, the case was tried before a jury, and the defendant was acquitted of all charges, finding that the prosecution did not satisfy its burden of proof that the driver was operating the vehicle at the time of the single-car collision.
Title, Land Use and Zoning Dispute - New Homeowner vs. Homeowner's Association & Title Insurance Carrier
After its purchase, a family seeking to extensively remodel a home in a coastal South Orange County neighborhood is informed by their homeowner's association ("HOA") that title to a large landscaped portion of their real property is owned and controlled by the HOA. The family's whitewater view is impaired by an association-maintained tree, and access and improvement to a significant portion of their real property are denied. Mr. McMahon's research reveals that the HOA owns no interest in the landscaped portion of the property and the recorded CC&Rs do not restrict the family's use, access and development of the property. Claims are asserted against the sellers, the HOA and the title insurance company. Appraisers are consulted to ascertain and value real property and view loss damages. Through mediation, a monetary settlement favorable to the family is reached, and the claims against their title to their real property (and ocean view) are quieted. An agreement is reached with respect to HOA signage on the family's property. During the construction process, the family is assisted by Mr. McMahon with additional approvals during meetings with the HOA and before the City.
View Dispute - Vegetation and Trees
Hedged vegetation and trees result in a significant loss of ocean view to a homeowner whose view is blocked by an adjoining neighbor. After retaining Robert McMahon, a view claim is initiated with the City of Laguna Beach. At the hearing, the landscape plans for the view-blocking property and photographs depicting the loss of valuable ocean view are presented to the hearing officer. Additionally, letters written in an informal effort to resolve the neighbors dispute are presented. The hearing officer finds a violation of the City's hedge-height ordinance. The neighbor appeals the hearing officer's findings to the Laguna Beach City Council. After a hearing, the City Council agrees that the hedge height ordinance has been violated and directs the homeowner to trim the offending hedge or risk further action by the City's Code Enforcement arm. Thereafter the hedge was trimmed and view restored.
Personal Injury - Passenger Injured by Intoxicated Driver
A young passenger seated in a stopped vehicle is injured by an intoxicated driver of another vehicle, resulting in neck and back injuries; disrupting school studies and participation in school sports. After a course of medical care, the passenger's claim is resolved with the intoxicated driver's automobile insurance carrier after counsel sent a demand letter and negotiated the settlement of the claim without litigation.
Criminal Defense - Domestic Violence
Husband is taken into custody on felony bail $50,000.00 bail after a domestic argument and temporary restraining and "no-contact orders are imposed." The information gained through investigation is provided to the district attorney and no criminal case is filed. Husband is referred to family law counsel associated with the case to assist with husband's representation in wife's petition to restrict husband from seeing his young children. Husband prevails in the family law hearing. Throughout the process, the husband is encouraged to seek and participate in family counseling.
Criminal Defense - Domestic Violence
A married couple was involved in a public physical altercation, drawing the attention of law enforcement. Husband is arrested on felony charges, bail in the sum of $50,000.00 is set and a stay-away order is imposed. Information provided to the district attorney results in the reduction of charges to a misdemeanor, no imposition of jail time, modification of the stay-away order to an order allowing peaceful contact, classes to enlighten the husband and strengthen the family. The criminal case was resolved as a misdemeanor.
Slip and Fall on Retail Property
A customer exiting an auto part store slips and falls on oil spilled by a prior customer while servicing a vehicle in front of the establishment, sustaining significant neck and back injuries. Pouring fluids into vehicles was a known occurrence on the establishment's business premises. A settlement was reached just prior to trial.
Fatality - Single Vehicle Rollover
Two college students were driving from Colorado to Southern California in an SUV. The driver became drowsy, left the road and the vehicle rolled multiple times across the desert. The belted driver survived the accident. The female passenger, although wearing a safety belt, had reclined her seat, she sustained a neck fracture and she did not survive the collision. Mr. McMahon commissioned a helicopter flyover to photograph the accident scene to determine other potential causes of the accident, and the demolished vehicle was inspected and photographed. An automotive engineer specializing in accident reconstruction and product failure was retained to ascertain if the passenger's injury was related to a product defect. A settlement for the policy limits of the driver's carrier was thereafter negotiated for the father of the deceased passenger.
Auto vs. Pedestrian
A part-time legal assistant in her mid-sixties was run down in a crosswalk, sustaining a fractured wrist and a significant head injury. The distracted at-fault driver's license was suspended and she lacked automobile liability insurance. It was determined that the injured pedestrian was covered under the terms of her uninsured motorist coverage, and a favorable settlement was negotiated with Mr. McMahon on completion of the injured party's medical treatment.
Fall in Retail Center - Fractured Elbow Requiring Prosthetic Replacement
A recent college graduate, newly certified as a yoga instructor sustained a fall in a retail shopping center while walking through an established pathway, fracturing her elbow. Emergency surgery was performed, with results that were poor. Months later, a prosthetic elbow replacement was performed and the young lady's condition was improved, but her intended career path as a professional yoga instructor was permanently altered. The case was successfully settled through mediation prior to trial.
Fall in Stadium - Subdural Hematoma
A pleasant elderly lady enjoying a concert at a regional stadium tripped and fell, striking her head, requiring immediate hospitalization for a blow to her head and resulting in a subdural hematoma within her cranium. Gross medical bills neared $150,000.00. The owner of the facility contested fault, asserting that the claimant caused her own injury. Inspection by retained experts revealed that the stair lighting on the aisle was not working and the stair tread heights were varied, creating a risk of a fall. The case was settled to the satisfaction of client before trial.
Industrial Accident - Steel Bridge Column Collapse
Two iron workers were at the top of a 70 foot reinforcement bar bridge column. The column was not properly anchored and management directed that the crane used to place the column could be detached. The resulting injuries to each of the workers were serious. Mr. McMahon successfully achieved a settlement before trial for one of the workers to appropriately compensate him for his injuries.