The personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are involved in some of the most significant cases in the Central Valley, ranging from police misconduct cases/civil rights to industrial accident cases, big rig, wrongful death, product liability cases, and more. And while every case handled by Chain | Cohn | Stiles is an important one for the lawyers, paralegals, and staff, the cases that follow represent just some of the diverse cases we’re working on currently.
For more on these cases, go to chainlaw.com/current-cases.
McGowan v. County of Kern
Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of 72-year-old Nancy Joyce Garrett, who was killed when a Kern County Sheriff’s Office patrol car operated by Deputy Nicholas Clerico struck and killed her.
The filing of the lawsuit came on the heels of the release of the California Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) report regarding the crash that occurred on Sept. 28, 2014, at the intersection of North Chester Avenue and China Grade Loop in Oildale. The report found Deputy Clerico at fault in the crash, and the CHP report recommended that a vehicular manslaughter charge be filed against the deputy.
Nancy was a friendly neighbor, a caregiver for our community, an active blogger, and the pillar of her family. She was a drug and alcohol counselor for the Kern County Mental Health Department, and also volunteered her time as a substance abuse counselor for STEPS, a local nonprofit that provides DUI awareness services. At the time of the crash, she was returning home from a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game she attended with her family and friends.
Nancy left behind a son, Mark, and a daughter, Deborah, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Doe Big Rig Tank Explosion
A big rig truck driver was filling his tank with fuel at a Valero gas station west of Bakersfield when a tank ruptured in a catastrophic release of pressure. The explosion severely injured the driver, and collapsed the gas station.
Kern County Fire Department responded with a Hazmat team, as did Kern County Public Health Services. Crews secured the utilities by operating all emergency fuel shutoffs, and rescue efforts focused on the truck driver who was treated on scene, and transported to a local hospital, according to media reports.
The investigation into the explosion continues.
Ojeda v. Animal Health International, Inc.
On the morning of Aug. 26, 2015, Steven Ojeda was driving to Wasco State Prison, where he worked as an associate warden, when a cloud of dust enveloped the roadway on Kimberlina Road, obscuring the vision of Ojeda and other drivers around him.
Just a few miles from his work, cars suddenly slowed as the area was covered in dust from people working in the fields. Ojeda crashed into the back of a vehicle, and was subsequently rear-ended by another vehicle. Tragically, Ojeda was killed in the crash.
“It is an extremely hard loss for our instruction and for our staff. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time,” Wasco State Prison officials said in a statement at the time of the crash.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of Ojeda’s family.
Acosta v. Sunny Gem
The plaintiff, a truck driver, was eastbound on Kimberlina Road near Wasco when the defendant, also a truck driver, heading northbound on Wildwood Road ran a stop sign, causing the plaintiff to collide with the defendant truck trailer, resulting in substantial injuries.
Garcia v. City of Delano
On April 17, 2018, Fernando Garcia, a maintenance worker for the city of Delano, was helping move boxes to a storage room. As he was moving the second set of boxes in the storage room, he collapsed.
He was taken to the hospital, and died three days later. He was married to his wife Elizabeth for 12 years, and he left behind three children.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the Garcia family in their workers’ compensation death benefits case.
Avalos Lopez v. Jaguar Contracting
Francisco Avalos Lopez was a first assistant foreman, which included the supervision of a crew of about 50 people, and was responsible for the production and output of his crew. The physical job required him to provide water, shade, and clean the portable toilets for his crew before the start of the workday.
On July 28, 2017, the crew was having an early morning meeting when Avalos collapsed holding his chest, and said, “heart.”
He left behind a wife and had three children. Days before his death, he had told his wife that he wanted to leave the job at the end of the season due to stress.
Jane Doe v. Domino’s Pizza
A juvenile girl working at Domino’s Pizza in Bakersfield was struck by gunfire during an altercation at the restaurant.
A 20-year-old was taken into custody in connection with the shooting, facing multiple charges including robbery, burglary and negligent discharge of a gun. Bakersfield Police Department reported that the man argued with employees, began to forcibly take food, began assaulting employees and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, police say a gun possessed by the man fell to the floor and discharged, striking the girl.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the worker in her workers’ compensation case.
Owens v. Brookdale Senior Living
Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed an elder abuse and neglect lawsuit against a Bakersfield senior rehabilitation center that resulted in the death of an 80-year-old man, longtime teacher, U.S. Army veteran, and husband of 57 years.
The elder abuse, elder neglect, wrongful death, and fraud complaint was on behalf of the widow of John Paul Owens against Brookdale Senior Living, Silvercrest Manor, and Wade Budney of “A Helping Hand Senior Care Services.”
Well into retirement, Paul began to suffer symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. He took a fall at home in 2017 that required him to have surgery on his leg and hip. After, Paul was placed in Brookdale Senior Living for daily care.
“So he could walk again, take care of himself again, so he could go back home and live with his wife of 57 years, that was the goal,” Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark told KGET News.
That didn’t happen. Paul developed large bed sores, pressure ulcers and received inadequate care. As an example, he was bathed just four times over a span of 35 days.
“Mr. Owens was continually denied the benefit of those interventions necessary to prevent the formation and progression of pressure ulcers,” according to the complaint.
Soon, Carol Owens was told Paul could no longer be housed at Brookdale, and needed to find another facility due to insurance issues. Brookdale contacted “A Helping Hand Senior Care Services,” ran by Wade Budney, to be discharged to Silvercrest.
“Budney puts [Owens] in his personal vehicle, this is a guy with two stage three pressure ulcers, a urinary catheter, a broken leg, hasn’t had rehab yet,” Clark told KGET.
Carol Owens added: “I was told if he wasn’t transferred that Wade would call and report me for elder abuse.”
The inadequate care continued at Silvercrest. Ultimately, the event prompted an investigation by the California Department of Public Health. The department found that Brookdale failed to prevent Paul Owens from developing ulcers, prematurely discharged him, and failed to safely discharge him to another facility.
Additionally, Budney falsely and misleadingly stated that Paul Owens would receive appropriate and adequate care at Silvercrest. He also concealed the fact that he would receive monetary compensation from Silvercrest.
Shortly after being admitted to Silvercrest, Paul Owens was taken to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. He died shortly after in January 2018.
“The main reason I’m doing this is I don’t want other people to have to go through this with loved ones, that’s the whole goal,” Carol Owens told KGET News.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.