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Hartt v. County of Los Angeles

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Seven

July 13, 2011, Filed

B220270

Opinion

 [**28]  WOODS, J.

INTRODUCTION

This is an action filed as a wrongful death claim arising out of an accident on a road in the Deane Dana Friendship Community Park on March 24, 2008. The decedent, one Steven Hartt (Hartt), a retired police officer, was riding his bicycle in the park, which is located in an area of the Palos Verde Peninsula containing hills and an upper and lower portion. The accident occurred on a road which connects the upper and lower areas of the park. While bicycling from the upper area to the lower area, Hartt collided with a county-owned vehicle traveling in the opposite direction of Hartt. The vehicle was owned by the County of Los Angeles and operated by one  [**29]  Rickey Deshon  [***2] Miller (Miller),1 indisputably a county employee. The vehicle is described as a GM (General Motors) pickup truck. It is undisputed that Miller was in the course and scope of his employment as a park maintenance worker at the time of the accident. Plaintiffs and appellants are the survivors of Hartt, namely Mallory Anne Hartt, Bret Sean Hartt and David Brooks Hartt, the surviving wife and sons of the decedent, respectively. Unless context requires otherwise, the surviving Hartts will be referred to herein as the Hartts.

Judgment was entered upon a jury verdict in favor of the county and Miller, after trial on the sole issue of liability. The Hartts contend that the trial court erred in making numerous rulings before, during and following the verdict which deprived them of a fair trial. Fast-forwarding to the “Conclusion” section of appellants' opening brief, they state “This verdict was a clear miscarriage of justice and is not supported by any reasonable interpretation of the evidence. The court prejudicially hamstrung the Plaintiffs by improperly granting  [***3] summary adjudication and then proceeded to exclude numerous items of evidence that would have (or at least very probably could have) lead to a different result.

 [*1394] 

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197 Cal. App. 4th 1391 *; 132 Cal. Rptr. 3d 27 **; 2011 Cal. App. LEXIS 1008 ***

MALLORY ANNE HARTT et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Subsequent History:  [***1] The Publication Status of this Document has been Changed by the Court from Unpublished to Published August 4, 2011.

Review denied by Hartt v. County of L.A., 2011 Cal. LEXIS 10695 (Cal., Oct. 12, 2011)

Prior History: APPEAL from a judgment and orders of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. NC042592, Roy L. Paul, Judge.

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

trail, truck, trial court, recreational, feet, miles per hour, skid mark, traveling, path, riding, curve, immunity, bicycle, debris, speed, straightaway, cyclist, space, summary adjudication, bicyclist, diagram, speed limit, visitors, highway, react, opening statement, public entity, first cause, Plaintiffs', happened

Governments, Local Governments, Claims By & Against, Torts, Public Entity Liability, Immunities, General Overview, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Motions for Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Genuine Disputes, Legislation, Interpretation, Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, State & Territorial Governments, Legislatures, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Evidence, Admissibility, Procedural Matters, Rulings on Evidence, Relevance, Exclusion of Relevant Evidence, Confusion, Prejudice & Waste of Time, Substantial Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict, Jury Trials, Verdicts, Record on Appeal, Weight & Sufficiency, Sufficiency of Evidence, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Motions for New Trials