Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps family of boy severely burned from downed power line

April 8, 2014 | 3:28 pm


In June 2012, David N. was watering his yard in Ridgecrest when he heard a sizzle and a pop sound. A raven had landed on a power line, which then failed and caused the electrical wire to fall on a fence three houses away. As the fence caught fire, David ran to try to put it out, not knowing a power line was down in the area. 

While focused on fighting the fire, David didn’t notice that his son, 3 years old at the time, followed close behind. When he noticed his boy, David ran to move him away, but it was too late. The boy tripped over the electrical wire, which caused an electric jolt that burned both of his legs

The treatment that followed was long and painful for the boy, his mother Challice said. Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which represented the family, was there to support them, while they stayed at the Grossman Burn Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital and the courtroom.   

Chain | Cohn | Stiles senior partner Matthew C. Clark explained in easily understandable way to David and Challice, who had never been involved in the legal matters, how the legal process would work, Challice said. Clark gave them enough information to know what to expect and to make decisions, she said.

Plus, the family could focus on their son’s recovery without having to worry about their personal injury case, she said.

“We felt we could trust (Matt Clark) and the law firm,” Challice said. “It’s important to have a really good relationship with your lawyer. When we discussed the case, it was like chatting with a friend who was helping you through your life. Having that atmosphere really takes off a lot of stress.”

Recently, Clark and Chain | Cohn | Stiles helped settle the family’s lawsuit, which argued that a connector on the power line failed when the raven landed near it. The failure caused the wire to fall to the ground, putting residents there in danger.

Earlier this week, the family received our flier in the mail, which came with their AltaOne Federal Credit Union account statement. The boy, now 5, noticed Matthew Clark’s picture on the flier, and asked his mom if he could make it into a sticker.

“He’s now walking around with Mr. Clark’s photo on his chest,” Challice said. “He thinks he’s pretty cool now.”

She added: “Matt just treated us like family, and we appreciate that.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles: Where real people go for justice

March 28, 2014 | 4:02 pm


At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we know our clients are No. 1.

So, in the newest issue of Bakersfield Life Magazine, out Saturday in The Bakersfield Californian and online now, we wanted to highlight the experiences of our former clients at our law firm. See our ad HERE, and also on our Instagram.

We chose three real-life clients to feature in the ad. Here is what they had to say:

Michael C., who suffered a leg amputation following a motorcycle accident:

“I didn’t know what had happened after the accident, and I didn’t know anything about the legal system. But after the first meeting with David Cohn, I knew he was on my side and I was going to be OK. I had no problem worrying about the firm taking care of business. He was a big help. Now, I have no worries and no regrets.”

Marilyn B., who was injured after a driver ran a stop sign and broadsided her vehicle:

“They are the best lawyers in town. They came to see me in the hospital after my accident, and I was so nervous. But they reassured me everything was going to be OK, and I didn’t have to worry about anything. I trusted them. Overall, I was satisfied with the way everything went. They did so much for me and gave me confidence.”

Jonathon A., who suffered serious burn injuries when a steam line blew out:

“The lawyers and staff at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are some of the most heartfelt, trustworthy and caring people I have ever worked with. They made sure that my whole family and I were treated like family, and we never had our questions go unanswered. I thank you all for everything you have done for my family and I. You guys and girls truly changed my life. I am forever grateful!”

For more real-life client testimonials, go HERE.

Witnesses in CCS wrongful death case file lawsuit for cell phone seizure

March 26, 2014 | 11:12 am


Another lawsuit has been filed related to our wrongful death case against local law enforcement.

Five witnesses to the May 2013 confrontation between law enforcement and David Silva have filed a lawsuit in federal court, according to The Bakersfield Californian, alleging they were unlawfully detained and law enforcement improperly seized their cell phones they used to record the in-custody death.

After the witnesses recorded the incident, Kern County Sheriff’s investigators “continued to harass, threaten, intimidate, pressure” the witnesses until they received the cellphones used to take video, they allege.

Seven deputies and two California Highway Patrol officers confronted Silva outside of Kern Medical Center. Deputies used baton strikes on Silva, restrained him, and a police canine was also used and bit Silva several times

After Silva was custody, he experienced trouble breathing and died soon after. The beating to Silva, according to CCS complaint, ultimately resulted in his death.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of David Silva. And CCS Managing Partner David K. Cohn has spoken out against the officers’ alleged actions, too.

The case drew widespread media attention and concern throughout Kern County, the state and across the country. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times were among dozens of media outlets that covered the case.

Kern Sheriff Donny Youngblood asked the FBI to conduct a parallel investigation into the case after the incident. And the case in ongoing.

Media covers record-breaking Chain | Cohn | Stiles settlement

March 5, 2014 | 4:30 pm


Late last week, Chain | Cohn | Stiles announced a wrongful death settlement between the County of Kern and the families of two people killed by a speeding Kern County Sheriff’s deputy.

That $8.8 million settlement is believed to be record-breaking for an automobile accident case against the County of Kern. But the toughest part of a wrongful death case like this, Chain | Cohn | Stiles Managing Partner David K. Cohn says, is placing the value on a human life.

Cohn discussed the case and settlement with The Bakersfield Californian’s CEO Richard Been on “First Look with Scott Cox” live news show. (Watch the video of the show above)

Cohn represented Daniel Hiler’s fiancee and two young sons. The 24-year-old was struck and killed along with Chrystal Jolley, 30, in late 2011 by Kern County Sherriff’s Deputy John Swearengin.

Both were crossing a road in Oildale when Swearengin’s patrol vehicle struck and killed them. Swearengin was driving 84 mph in a 45 mph zone before hitting Hiler and Jolley. He was responding to a call of a stolen vehicle; however, his emergency lights and siren were not turned on.

Law enforcement officers can travel in excess of the posted speed limit so long as their forward facing overhead lights are activated to warn others that they are responding to an emergency, but Swearengin didn’t do that, Cohn said. In fact, the deputy violated several policies and procedures.

The Hiler family will receive $4.8 million from the settlement.

“You try to convey that loss of love, society, comfort and protection they (Hiler’s kids) will not have,” Cohn said Tuesday on the show. “And that’s when you ask the jury to consider and put a number on that loss.”

Cohn’s appearance on the live streamed-radio news show was the latest press on the case. Following Friday’s announcement, media from throughout Bakersfield, Kern County, the state and even Associated Press mentioned the civil case’s culmination. The criminal case is ongoing.

Local media coverage included (click the links for news coverage on the case):

The Bakersfield Californian

KGET-17 (NBC)

KBAK 29, KBFX 58 (Fox, BakersfieldNow.com)

KERO-23 (ABC)

And several other news outlets ran the Associated Press story on the Chain | Cohn | Stiles settlement, such as this one here.

While the civil case is settled, the criminal case against Swearengin continues. He is charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and he has plead not guilty.

Cohn also discussed other Chain | Cohn | Stiles cases involving Sheriff’s deputies, including a claim brought by a young woman who was sexually assaulted by a deputy at her home in Tehachapi. The Sheriff’s deputy involved in the sexual assault is currently being prosecuted by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. For more current cases involving Chain | Cohn | Stiles, go to Chainlaw.com.

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UPDATE: Below is media coverage regarding the criminal case against the Kern County Sheriff’s deputy involved in the crash. Local and national media covered the case: