David K. Cohn: The most interesting man in the world?

May 7, 2014 | 9:34 am


He may not be “the most interesting man in the world” who you’ve probably seen on the beer commercials, but Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner and Bakersfield personal injury attorney David K. Cohn is close.

Bakersfield Life Magazine recently featured Cohn in the monthly “12 Random Things You Didn’t Know About …” section of the monthly Bakersfield publication. The section typically highlights a well-known personality in Kern County, who shares facts that most people around our community may not know.

Part of reason Cohn was chosen for this feature is because he has been practicing law for nearly 40 years, and today he is one of the most highly regarded personal injury lawyers in Kern County.

He’s also a scuba diver, an avid University of Southern California football fan and university alumnus, and a Bakersfield native.

Additionally, the feature story was included in the May 2014 issue of Bakersfield, which happens to the “Best of Bakersfield” issue, where the results of a city-wide poll by The Bakersfield Californian newspaper of everything related to Bakersfield are revealed. In the issue, Chain | Cohn | Stiles was voted by Bakersfield as the “Best Law Firm” for the second year in a row, and Cohn was voted as a “favorite” in the “Best Lawyer” category, also the second time he was chose for this category.

“… It’s in his practice where Cohn truly shines,” Bakersfield Life Magazine wrote in the recent issue, which you can find on newsstands around Kern County now. “In this year’s Best of Bakersfield competition, his firm — Chain | Cohn | Stiles — was voted Best Law Firm and Cohn bears the title of ‘Super Lawyer’ in Southern California, an honor bestowed upon only the top 5 percent of lawyers in the region.”

Among the random facts that Cohn shared with Bakersfield were:

  • Some of my first jobs included making pizzas at Pizzaville, vacuuming cars at Oak Street Car Wash and sweeping out box cars for Santa Fe Railroad.
  • I’ve known David Stiles, my law partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, since grade school. We attended Roosevelt Elementary.
  • I once dove down to 210 feet in the South Pacific. I also dove in Malaysia, Borneo, Micronesia and Tahiti.
  • If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would have been a pilot.
  • I’ve practiced law for nearly 40 years and have fought well over 10,000 cases in my career.

To see the rest of the random facts, read the online version HERE, or the magazine version HERE. And to read more about Cohn and his practice, see his biography HERE.

Tips: Celebrate with safety this Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2014 | 9:30 am


Bakersfield is rich with culture, especially within our Hispanic community. This Cinco de Mayo (May 5) will undoubtedly bring celebration citywide.

It’s important, however, to keep safety in mind today whether you are celebrating around town, or are traveling through local streets during this holiday. The popularity of Cinco de Mayo celebrations, especially among young people, has brought about some problems — alcohol-involved crashes.

Bakersfield Police Department and other local law enforcement has traditionally bumped up enforcement around this holiday.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives some sobering stats:

  • From 2008 to 2012, 233 people were killed in drunken driving crashes on Cinco de Mayo. 
  • In 2012, almost half (45 percent) of all traffic crash deaths on Cinco de Mayo involved drunk driving.

To increase your chances of enjoying a safe Cinco de Mayo celebration, the safety administration recommends that you plan ahead, and:

  • Designate your sober driver before the festivities begin.
  • If you’ve been drinking, call a friend or taxi, or use public transportation to get home.
  • Contact your local police if you see a drunk driver on the road. 
  • If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them find a safe ride home.

As the statistics show, DUI crashes and incidents are still bound to happen. The Bakersfield accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles also have some tips in the unfortunate case you are the victim in an accident.

The attorneys at CCS are passionate about keeping our streets as safe as possible. In fact, the law firm has partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County in the first Bakersfield “Walk (Run) Like MADD” fundraiser, which will be held this September.

Below are several “Frequently Asked Questions” and answers from the Bakersfield law firm’s website related to DUI accidents, and what you should do if you are ever a victim. And remember, if you are ever involved in an accident, call the firm at 661-323-4000.

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Does the law differentiate between people who are killed or seriously injured by drunk drivers as opposed to people who are injured or killed by people driving under the influence of street drugs or prescription drugs?

No. The law makes no distinction between driving under the influence of alcohol, street drugs or prescription drugs. That is why the term “DUI,” which means “driving under the influence” is used to describe the crime rather than “drunk driving.”

Who can sue in a DUI case?

Any person who is injured by the wrongful conduct of a person driving under the influence, or the survivors of someone who was killed by a defendant who was driving under the influence, can bring a lawsuit against the defendant driver and any other person or entity who was responsible for the accident.

Is it easier to prove a drunk driving case than a case in which a person is driving under the influence of drugs?

Yes. The relationship between a high blood alcohol level and driver impairment is well known and well established. The same relationship between prescription and street drugs has been far less studied and is not within the common knowledge of most drivers and jurors. Thus, drunk driving cases are easier to prove.

What if the person who injured me was found to be driving under the influence, but I feel like I also was probably at fault. Can I bring a lawsuit?

Yes. California is a comparative negligence State. This means that you can sue any responsible party even if you are partially at fault in the accident. However, your damage award will be reduced by the percentage of your own negligence.

How impaired must a defendant be for there to be a presumption under the law that the defendant was negligent?

A defendant will be presumed to be negligent for causing an accident if you can establish that the driver’s physical or mental abilities were so impaired by the drug or alcohol use that they could not drive with the caution or ability of a person of ordinary prudence and skill in similar circumstances. Thus, a person can have a few drinks or drive under the influence of prescription drugs without being presumed to be negligent.

Will expert testimony be necessary for me to establish that the other driver was under the influence?

Probably. Usually a toxicologist will have to be called at trial to establish the level of alcohol and/or drugs in a person’s body. In addition, a human factors expert may be necessary to testify to the relationship between the blood alcohol or drug level and driver impairment

What damages can I recover in a wrongful death or serious Drunk Driving Accidents case stemming from the negligence of a defendant who was driving under the influence?

The injured person is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Further, plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages. If the injured person dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the injured person’s death, as well as monetary damages which stem from the loss of society, care, and comfort of the decedent.

What do I need to establish to prove punitive damages in a case in which the defendant was driving under the influence?

First of all, punitive damages are not recoverable in California in any wrongful death case. If your loved one has died, you can only claim punitive damages if they survived for at least a few moments after the collision that killed them. To recover punitive damages in an injury or a “survivor” action against a person who was driving under the influence, you must prove that:

  • That the defendant voluntarily drank or took drugs to the point of intoxication/impairment before they knew that they would be driving;
  • That the defendant was convicted of a felony under Civil Code Section 3245(d).
  • They were aware of the probable dangerous consequences of their conduct; and,
  • They willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences.

Special settlement considerations in drunk driving cases?

Whether or not an insurance company wants to admit it, the jurors’ focus in a case in which the defendant was driving under the influence will be on the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct more than it will be on the extent of a plaintiff’s damages. Thus, a plaintiff should never settle a case against a person who was driving under the influence for the same amount of money that they would settle any other case. The case will always be worth more money than a typical Drunk Driving Accidents or wrongful death case, and may be worth many more times the usual value of the case, depending upon the seriousness of defendant’s misconduct.

Do I need an attorney to pursue my case against a defendant who was driving under the influence?

Yes. You will need an attorney to help you establish the degree of impairment of the defendant. Further, a skilled attorney will understand that you will receive all of the benefit of the doubt that you will need in a case against a person driving under the influence and will prepare the damage part of your case accordingly. This will help you achieve a larger settlement or verdict than you would be able to achieve on your own.

We’re the best, again! Thank you Kern County!

April 26, 2014 | 7:28 am


Thank you Kern County! You’ve chosen us as the best once again!

This morning, Bakersfield Life Magazine and The Bakersfield Californian unveiled the “Best of Kern County” winners – and we’re on top once again!

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been voted “Best Law Firm,” and David K. Cohn was chosen as a “favorite” in the “Best Lawyer” category. This is the second year in a row that we have been honored in these two categories. The “best law firm” and “best lawyer” categories were added to The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers’ Choice Poll two years ago, and we’ve been winner each year now.

The recognition would not be possible without all of you – the people of Kern County. Thank you for acknowledging the hard work our attorneys and staff put in every day. Thank you for voting us as your choice law firm and lawyer for 2014, and allowing us to serve Kern County for the last 80 years.

Our passion is to bring justice and protect the rights of local residents who have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another. We also strive today to assist local residents in need of social security disability and workers’ compensation* cases.

The recognition and awards, simply, are icing on the cake.

So, once again, thank you for trusting us to stand for you. We’ve been named the best, and we will keep on working hard and fighting for you to continue to be the best.

Warm regards,

The staff and attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with city, homeless center in freeway litter cleanup project

April 16, 2014 | 10:00 am


It was Bakersfield’s Buck Owens who made the “Streets of Bakersfield” famous in the 1970s, through his iconic country music song. In recent years, however, those streets have become infamous for the litter that scatters the pavement. 

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we’re proud of our community, our city and our streets, and we wish to keep our city as clean and healthy as possible. 

This year, on our 80-year anniversary and as a gift to the city we’ve served during that time, we’ve sponsored the City of Bakersfield’s “Freeway Litter Cleanup Project.” Here’s how it works:

Our sponsorship dollars go to pay residents from the Bakersfield Homeless Center to clean up our portion of the newest Bakersfield freeway — the Westside Parkway. Our sponsored highway section is at Coffee Road, eastbound on the Parkway. (see the picture of our sign HERE).

The program is a win for everyone involved: it keeps our freeway clean, increases community pride, gives jobs to the homeless, and sponsorships keep costs down for  the city and homeless center.

The program — partnering the homeless center with the city, and local business — has been hailed nationwide by other county and city governments. 

Recently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles received a letter from Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall thanking us for our participation.

“Working together we will best this blight, that for too long has marred the landscape in our city,” Hall wrote in the letter.

To learn more about the program, click on the following links:

Chain | Cohn | Stiles responds to Kern County District Attorney decision on Silva case

April 11, 2014 | 4:15 pm


Chain | Cohn | Stiles on Friday released the following news release after Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green announced that her office would not be seeking criminal charges against the law enforcement officers involved in the death of David Silva, represented by this firm:

Below the release are links to media coverage of the announcement, and the response from Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

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April 11, 2014                                                                                                       

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Attorney in David Silva case calls Kern County District Attorney’s Office decision a disappointment

The attorney for the family of David S. Silva on Friday called the decision by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office a disappointment, following its decision to not file charges against officers that beat and hogtied him before he died.

“This is the reason we need an independent advisory panel evaluating these types of cases,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner with Chain | Cohn | Stiles and attorney representing the Silva family. “Kern County District Attorney’s Office personnel work with these agencies every day, and they’re the ones in charge of prosecuting cases for them. Apparently, the way it works in Kern County is that unless they catch the officers red-handed, nothing will happen. It appears that they look for ways not to prosecute.”

Cohn continued: “Given that we do not have an independent panel in place to investigate, that’s the reason we filed a lawsuit in this case on behalf of the Silva family.  Through this lawsuit, we believe the truth will come out. We have the ability to question these officers under oath. We’ll be more thorough in this investigation than any investigation that the Kern County District Attorney’s Office has done thus far. We won’t just rely on the investigative reports prepared by the Sheriff’s office, which are self-serving, one-sided versions of the events leading up to David Silva’s tragic death.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a civil rights lawsuit in connection with the wrongful death of David Silva in May 7, 2013. The lawsuit arises out of an incident at the intersection of Flower Street and Palm Street in Bakersfield, when David Silva died as a consequence of unreasonable and excessive force used by six Sheriff’s deputies, a sergeant, and two California Highway Patrol officers.

The complaint seeks damages on behalf of David’s four young children, his significant other, his parents and his brother, for the loss of love, affection, society, service, comfort, support, right of support, expectations of future support and counseling, companionship, solace and mental support, as well as other benefits and assistance of the decedent, David Silva.

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Meanwhile, local, state and national news media has been covering the announcement and response. Here are some of those articles and videos. 

 

The Bakersfield Californian: Prosecutors won’t file charges in David Silva’s death, Letters to the Editor

KERO-23, ABC: Attorney in David Silva case calls Kern County District Attorney’s Office decision a disappointment

KBFX-58, KBAK-29, FOX: Kern County prosecutor: No charges in Silva in-custody death 

KGET-17, NBC: District attorney: No charges to be filed in David Silva case

KGET-17, NBC: DA: No charges for deputies in deadly Silva confrontation

KERO-23, ABC: Kern County District Attorney will not file charges in the alleged beating death of David Silva

CBS-2, KCAL-9, Los Angeles: No Charges Filed Against Deputies In Bakersfield Arrest Death

San Francisco Chronicle: No charges filed in Kern County arrest death

Families of crime victims aim to ‘restore the balance of justice’

| 9:35 am


Some were killed by drunk drivers, and others at the hands of other human beings. But all of them are victims of crimes, and their families are fighting for justice.

About 400 people gathered this week outside of Kern County Superior Court to honor loved ones who had been killed, and in some cases pray for justice to be served. They waved signs and marched through downtown Bakersfield streets as part of the second annual Victims’ Rights March, and National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which is held each year in April. This year’s theme is “Restoring the Balance of Justice.” They also celebrated the Victims of Crime Act, which recognizes the rights of victims.

Some of the participants are being represented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, and others are partners of the firm who are striving for the same goal — justice.

Among them was the family was David Silva, who was beaten to death by several law enforcement officers. CCS has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Silva’s family.

Another participant was Carla Pearson, program coordinator and victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. Since her stepson was killed by a repeat DUI offender in 2002, she has been campaigning for victim’s rights in and out of the courtroom, and to take DUI offenders off of the streets.

Pearson has partnered with our law firm, local law enforcement, Kern County District Attorney’s Office, and other community groups in the first-ever “Walk/Run Like MADD” 5K, to be held on Sept. 20 at Park at River Walk. The event aims to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving accidents.

Others at the march, too, had family members killed in auto accidents, including a mother of a 20-year-old who held a sign against texting and driving, The Bakersfield Californian reported. The mother believed texting was a factor in the crash that killed her daughter.

Another mother held a photo of her son, who died in a hit-and-run accident last year, The Californian reported.

“I think (the victims’ march) is important for us to support each other in this,” the mother told The Californian. “We have not forgotten our loved ones.”

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week ends this week, but at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe it’s important to keep crime victims’ rights in mind always.

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.

What’s new at CCS?

March 24, 2014 | 10:45 am


What is there to celebrate at Chain | Cohn | Stiles? A whole lot.

Let’s start first with our 80-year anniversary! Then we can celebrate our new website redesign, our partnership with the city to keep our local roads clean, and recent media coverage of our case settlements.

This morning we sent out the latest in what will be a quarterly newsletter, focusing on all the news and happenings at your law firm, in and around Bakersfield.

To read the latest newsletter, go HERE.

And don’t miss the next newsletter. Scroll to the bottom of this page, and put in your email address to sign up! Or simply click HERE.

We thank each of you for your support.

Like the late Dr. Grossman, CCS devoted to providing care for burn victims

March 19, 2014 | 9:44 am


In 2009, San Joaquin Community Hospital established the Grossman Burn Center. Before then, Bakersfield and Kern County residents in need of specialized burn care had to travel more than 100 miles to Fresno or Los Angeles for treatment.

Since opening in Bakersfield, the Grossman Burn Center has averaged about 350 patients annually, according to The Bakersfield Californian.

Dr. A. Richard Grossman, for whom the center is named after, died recently at 81. The plastic and reconstructive surgeon pioneered care for burn patients in Sherman Oaks four decades ago. In the decades that followed, Grossman Burn Centers were established in Phoenix, Kansas City and, of course, in Bakersfield.

Like Grossman, the attorneys and staff at Chain | Cohn | Stiles for decades, too, have been devoted to providing proper care for burn victims in representing them. For this reason, Chain | Cohn | Stiles in 2009 donated $200,000 to San Joaquin Community Hospital’s Grossman Burn Center ICU. Today, it is known as the “Chain | Cohn | Stiles ICU, Grossman Burn Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital.”

“We’ve seen firsthand in our work representing burn victims how the Grossman Burn Center at SJCH provides world-class care,” CCS managing partner David K. Cohn said in 2012 during a ceremony acknowledging the donation. “It was important to us as a law firm and as part of this community to be part of bringing state-of-the-art burn care to Kern County. In addition, the Grossman Burn Center’s assistance to the families of children without sufficient financial resources to battle serious burn injuries is something we are very proud to support.”

Today, we honor Dr. Grossman for his work that still resonates.

To learn more about the local Grossman Burn Center and its services, visit www.sjch.us/burncenter. And to learn more about how Chain | Cohn | Stiles serves burn victims, go HERE.