Frequently Asked Question: How do I know if I have a case?

November 1, 2017 | 10:02 am


How do you know if you have a case? How does Chain | Cohn | Stiles compare to other law firms? And how long will your case take?

These are just some of the questions frequently asked by Kern County residents when it comes to hiring a personal injury or workers’ compensation lawyer or law firm. To help answer these questions, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, with the help of attorney and senior partner Matt Clark, put together several short videos on the topics.

Below, Clark answers the question, “How do you know if you have a case?” In short, Chain | Cohn | Stiles looks at four things when evaluating whether or not someone has a personal injury case: liability, causation, damages, and collectability.

Learn about all of these points by watching the video on chainlaw.com, or read all about it below.

———

In the event of an injury or accident, for us to determine if you have a case, we need to know four things:

1) Liability. Is someone else at fault? If it’s a car accident, was there another driver at fault? If it’s an injury or accident on a property, did the owner fail in some way. If it’s an industrial, oilfield or work accident, did someone do something wrong. We call this liability.

2) Damages. Were you hurt? And if you were, how badly? Did you suffer from those injuries? We call these damages, and they include medical expenses that you incurred already, and are likely to incur in the future. Did you have loss of earnings? Did you miss work? You’re entitled to recover past and future losses. Did you have pain and suffering? We call these non-economic damages.

3) Causation. What we’re looking for is if you’re in an accident, and you have physical impairments, were those injuries suffered in the accident? Was the accident the cause of those injuries? Maybe you’ve had back injuries before, or even had a previous surgery. If those previous injuries are made worse because of an accident, that’s also causation.

4) Collectability. Can we get you any money for your damages? Typically, this comes from insurance or a corporate entity. There are times when we people see us in very bad accidents with unfortunate injuries, but because the person who is the cause of their injuries has no or little insurance, that person is what we call insolvent, and they can’t pay a claim. There is typically nothing we can do.

An injury and accident case can be a complication thing, and it’s important for a legal professional who has expertise to evaluate your potential case. That’s what we can do for you, for free. We can determine if you have a case. Call us or visit chainlaw.com today for a free consultation.

———

If you or someone you know has a potential personal injury or workers’ compensation case, contact the lawyers for a free consultation at (661) 323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com.

———

*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Property maintenance is key to avoid injuries, premises liability claims

October 11, 2017 | 9:31 am


Premises-Hazard-Blog

The following article by Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark appeared in the Kern Business Journal. To view the PDF print version of the Kern Business Journal click here

———

Maintaining your property so that it is safe for your customers, employees and visitors should be a top priority for all businesses. Premises liability lawsuits are one the most common claims made against businesses.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we regularly receive calls from Kern County residents injured due to poorly maintained property. Oftentimes, these injuries lead to cases, and these cases end up in litigation, costing businesses time and money. In almost every instance, the injury, and subsequent lawsuit, could have been avoided with proper maintenance and inspection, and a basic understanding of premises liability law.

Premises liability claims typically fall into one of two major categories: standard premises liability, or premises liability against a public entity, oftentimes referred to as a “dangerous condition of public property.” In this article, we will focus on the former, which applies to all private businesses and an injury claim made by a non-employee. Also, it is important to note that an injury claimed by an employee normally falls into the worker’s compensation system, which is a “no fault” system, meaning the law relating to liability is largely inapplicable.

Premises liability claims

If someone claims to be injured on your property, he or she needs to prove four things to win their case:

  1. That you owned, leased and/or controlled the property;
  2. That you were negligent in the use or maintenance of your property;
  3. That they suffered an injury; and,
  4. That your negligence was a substantial factor in causing their injury.

Property owners are expected to use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions, and to repair or give warning of any condition that could be reasonably expected to harm others. If an injured party can ultimately prove that a dangerous condition existed on the property, that the owner knew or should have known the condition was present on the property, and that the owner failed to correct the condition, or give adequate warning, the injured party will likely prevail.

But how does it work in a practical sense?  If, for example, you fail to maintain your parking lot to the extent that it is full of potholes, uneven surfaces, or broken and cracked asphalt and someone falls, you may be liable for their injuries. If a customer spilled something inside your store and you have no protocol or procedure in place to regularly inspect the condition of the floor, and then hours later another customer slips and falls, you could be liable. If your business operates at night, and you have an area outside that is so poorly lit that things like curbs, parking bumpers, or medians are invisible and someone falls, you could be liable.

What you can do

As a best practice, your business should regularly inspect your property and keep a record of the inspections (think of inspection records inside most public restrooms, for example). If during an inspection, you come across a condition or defect that poses a danger to others, you should immediately cordon off the area, put up warnings if necessary – such as wet floor signs or warning tape – and then correct the defect as quickly possible.

Under most circumstances, businesses make timely repairs to defects they are aware of. The failure occurs when there is not a regular inspection policy in place, and defects go unnoticed.

So, if you take one bit of advice away from this brief article it should be: put a policy in place to regularly inspect your businesses’ property, do the inspections, and keep a record that you did it.

Matthew Clark is a senior partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles where he focuses on wrongful death, industrial accidents, and motor vehicle accident cases, among other injury cases for people of Kern County.

———

*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Speak up for those who can’t during Elder Abuse Awareness Month

June 21, 2017 | 9:07 am


More than 500,000 incidents of elder abuse are reported to authorities each year in the United States. Additionally, an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are abused or neglected each year, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging.

Sadly, many cases go unreported.

During June’s Elder Abuse Awareness Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to remind everyone of the importance of speaking up for those who can’t — our oldest, frailest and most vulnerable citizens. For decades, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been at the forefront in fighting for victims of elder abuse in Bakersfield, Kern County and beyond. For example:

Joining Chain | Cohn | Stiles in honoring the awareness month locally, the Kern County Board of Supervisors recently proclaimed June as Elder Abuse Awareness month as well.

In all, Elder Abuse Awareness Month aims to focus attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders. It also seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing population, and brings together senior citizens, and their caregivers, national and local government, academics, and the private sector to exchange ideas about how best to reduce incidents of violence towards elders, increase reporting of such abuse, and to develop elder friendly policies.

A challenge, however, lies in the reporting of elder abuse and neglect. For every case known to programs and agencies, 24 are unknown; for financial abuse, only one in 44 cases is known, according to the National Center of Elder Abuse.

So why does elder abuse go unreported? Many times, elders have no family to report to. They also fear retaliation from “caregivers,” or they feel shame in regards to abuse. Another reason is they fear they will lose independence, or fear they will upset their own family members. Many times, however, victims simply lack understanding of how to report abuse.

Another issue lies is recognizing elder abuse and neglect. In fact, elder abuse can take many forms including:

  • Physical abuse: Inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior (slapping, bruising or restraining by physical or chemical means).
  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect: The failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Exploitation: The illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts (humiliating, intimidating, or threatening).
  • Abandonment: Desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
  • Self-neglect: Characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.

Lastly, how do you recognize elder abuse and neglect, and what are the warning signs. Here are a few of them:

  • Bruises, broken bones, abrasions and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene and unusual weight loss.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person.
  • If you notice changes in a senior’s personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on.

It’s important to alert others if you have suspicions, and to retain an attorney. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. To report cases of elder abuse, whether it is on your own behalf or that of someone you know, please call Adult Protective Services as part of the Kern County Aging & Adult Services, or contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

  • Adult Protective Services (APS) responds to reports from individuals, concerned citizens, social service and health providers, and law enforcement representatives about developmental disabled adults, physically and mentally disabled adults, and the elderly who may be physically or financially abused, neglected, or exploited. Upon receipt of a referral, APS sends a social worker to make a home visit or contact the elder or dependent adult. Reach the 24-hour hotline at 800-277-7866 or 661-868-1006.
  • The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program investigates elder abuse complaints in long-term care facilities and in residential care facilities for the elderly. The primary responsibility of the program is to investigate and endeavor to resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, individual residents in these facilities, including nursing homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, and assisted living facilities. The goal of the program is to advocate for the rights of all residents in long term care. You can reach them at 661-323-7884.

— By Alyssa Wood for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

———

If someone you know is the victim of elder abuse or neglect, it’s important to retain an elder abuse lawyer right away. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been representing victims of elder abuse and neglect for decades. Reach the elder abuse law firm at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website bakersfieldelderabuse.com.

Wrongful death case involving speeding deputy continues after plea deal in criminal case

April 26, 2017 | 9:37 am


A former Kern County Sheriff’s deputy has pleaded “no contest” in connection with a crash that killed a 72-year-old Oildale woman in 2014, a crash also connected to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of her family.

Nicholas Clerico will receive three years probation, must pay a $570 fine and serve 240 hours of community service after pleading no contest on April 25 to a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of Nancy Joyce Garrett, who was killed when Clerico struck and killed her in his speeding patrol car. The filing came after the California Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) report found Deputy Clerico at fault in the September 2014 crash, at the intersection of North Chester Avenue and China Grade Loop in Oildale.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark, who is representing Garrett’s family in the case, commented to local media on Clerico’s plea and the ongoing wrongful death civil lawsuit.

“In talking with the family, they’re glad that (Clerico) has finally accepted some responsibility for what he did,” Clark told The Bakersfield Californian, adding that the family, however, has not received closure, and continues to mourn Garrett’s loss. “This was no accident. This was totally preventable.”

Family members have described Nancy as 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.

Garrett’s family is seeking changes within the sheriff’s department in how deputies are trained to drive. Her death, unfortunately, is not the only one related to driving by Kern County Sheriff’s deputies.

  • Larry Maharrey was killed when Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Marvin Gomez abruptly made a left turn against a red light onto Airport Drive in Oildale directly into Maharrey’s motorcycle. Maharrey was unable to avoid the collision with Deputy Gomez’s patrol vehicle, and died as a result of the crash. That wrongful death case represented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, is ongoing.
  • Daniel Hiler and Chrystal Jolley were killed in December 2011 when Kern County sheriff’s deputy John Swearengin struck and killed them as they pushed a motorcycle across Norris Road. Swearengin was traveling at more than 80 mph in a 45-mph zone, without activating his emergency lights or siren. Chain | Cohn | Stiles settled that case in March 2014 for $8.8 million.

———

PLEA DEAL MEDIA COVERAGE

PAST CASE MEDIA COVERAGE

National Burn Awareness Week: Safety tips to prevent burn injuries in your household

February 8, 2017 | 9:13 am


Each year, nearly 500,000 people in the United States and Canada are treated for burn injuries caused by normal household activities including cooking, bathing and eating. Sadly, most of these traumatic burn injuries occur to young children.

This week, the Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles — with the help of U.S. Fire Administration and the American Burn Foundation — would like to raise awareness of common burn injury causes, and provide tips in hopes of preventing them altogether.

National Burn Awareness Week, observed from Feb. 5 to 11 this year, is designed to teach kids how to be responsible for their personal safety and to increase family awareness of potentially harmful situations in homes.

Most of these injuries occur due to lack of adult supervision and a failure to follow safe practices. Here are a few other facts about burn injuries in the home:

  • Hot water scalds are the leading cause of burns to young children, and almost one-third of all burn injuries occur in children under the age of 15.
  • Men are more likely to be burned than women
  • Most of the injuries occur in the home; second is work.

So what can we all do to prevent burn injuries? Here are a few tips:

  • Place objects so that they cannot be pulled down or knocked over.
  • Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
  • Use dry oven mitts or potholders.
  • Carefully remove carefully that has been cooked in the microwave. Slowly open containers, and open them away from the face.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid, or carrying hot items.

Sadly, accidents happen even when taking precautions. Here’s what you should do in the case of a burn injury:

  • Treat a burn right away by putting it under cool, running water. Cool the burn for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cover a burn with a clean, dry cloth. Do not apply creams, ointments, sprays or other home remedies.
  • Seek immediate emergency medical care for more serious burns to prevent infection and other complications.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been devoted to providing proper care for burn victims — in and out of the courtroom. In fact, when San Joaquin Community Hospital established a burn center in 2009 to help Bakersfield and Kern County residents in need of specialized burn care, the law firm’s partners donated $200,000 toward the center and it was named the Chain | Cohn | Stiles Burn Center. Additionally, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark sits on the board of directors for Adventist Health Bakersfield, and annually helps with the “5 Alarm Barbecue” fundraiser aimed to help burn survivors in Kern County during their recovery. And you may remember this touching story of boy who was burned by fallen power lines in Ridgecrest, and whose family came to Chain | Cohn | Stiles for help.

In other burn injury cases, lawyer David K. Cohn helped resolve a lawsuit for $10 million after a man was burned over 80 percent of his body in an oilfield accident. And the law firm is currently involved in several cases of exploding e-cigarettes that caused burn injuries.

If you or someone you know has suffered burn injuries at the fault of someone else, please contact the burn injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Partners David Cohn, James Yoro named as 2016 Southern California Super Lawyers

February 3, 2016 | 10:42 am


David Cohn and James Yoro, partners with the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, have been named Super Lawyers by Southern California’s Super Lawyers Magazine.

This is the fifth year straight that Cohn has received the honor, awarded to no more than 5 percent of lawyers in the Southern California region based on a high-degree of peer recognition and personal achievement. And it’s the first time Yoro has earned this distinction.

“This is a huge honor to be recognized by the legal professionals I deeply respect, and work with day in and day out,” said Yoro, who manages the law firm’s workers’ compensation* department.

Added Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles: “I’m humbled to be selected year after year for this tremendous honor.”

The two attorneys have worked together since 1982. Yoro is in his 34th year working under at the Chain law firm, and Cohn is in his 41st year under the Chain name, representing local injury and accident victims.

Their honor was highlighted recently in “People in Business” section of The Bakersfield Californian. See it by clicking here.

Each year, the Super Lawyers selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. The Super Lawyers program selects attorneys using a multi-phase selection process where each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, according to Super Lawyers. The objective of the recognition program is “to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.”

Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting an attorney, the program limits the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public, the Super Lawyers website states.

As part of the honor, Cohn and Yoro are highlighted in the 2016 issue of Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine along with other awarded legal professionals.

With Yoro being chosen as a Super Lawyer, Chain | Cohn Stiles now has three attorneys selected for the honor. Attorney Matthew Clark has been named a “Rising Star” in the Super Lawyers program the past four years. That honor is bestowed upon only 2.5 percent of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region. You can ready his profile on the Super Lawyers website by clicking here.

To learn more about Cohn, visit his attorney profile by clicking here. You can also read his profile on the Super Lawyers website by clicking here. For more on Yoro, click here.

And if you or someone you know is involved in an accident, at work or outside of work, call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

————

* NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles settles K-9 dog bite case against County of Kern for record $2 million

January 13, 2016 | 8:49 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has settled a lawsuit on behalf of a Bakersfield woman for $2 million in what is the largest award for a dog bite case against a public entity in California, according to VerdictSearch, a verdict and settlement database.

On July 21, 2013, Erin Casey (21 years old at the time) was attacked by a K-9 dog accompanying a Kern County Sheriff’s deputy while outside of a restaurant in north Bakersfield. Responding to a domestic dispute, the deputy exited his patrol vehicle and began walking toward Casey. At that time, the K-9 exited the patrol car, ran toward Casey and began biting her for 60 to 90 seconds. Casey suffered several major bite wounds to her leg.

Investigation found that the K-9 escaped from its holding kennel in the back of the patrol car due to a mechanical defect inside of the car. The deputy agreed that the K-9 should not have been let out of the patrol car. In addition, the K-9 failed to respond to commands from the deputy to cease attacking.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a lawsuit against the County of Kern shortly after the incident on behalf of Casey.  The parties recently agreed on a settlement for $2 million, a record amount against a public entity in California for a dog bite case, VerdictSearch records show.

Casey was represented by attorneys Matt Clark and Neil Gehlawat from Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

“Law enforcement K-9s are capable of inflicting serious injuries, including death, which is why it is imperative that they only be released when necessary, and in accordance with departmental protocols,” said Clark, lead attorney on the case. “Also, when they are released, they must be under the control of their handler. In this instance, everyone agreed that the K-9 should not have been released, and once it latched onto Ms. Casey, the deputy failed to control his dog. As a result of this mistake, Ms. Casey sustained severe, life-altering injuries.

Clark added: “We believe this settlement fairly compensates Ms. Casey for her loss.”

If you or someone you know has been attacked by a dog, contact the dog bite attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles for a free consultation at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

————-

MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles represents Bakersfield residents in exploding e-cigarette cases

November 25, 2015 | 9:41 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing three Bakersfield residents who suffered major burn injuries when electronic cigarettes, or “vapes,” they were using failed and exploded spontaneously.

Roy Iversen, Vicente Garza and Greg Phillips were each severely burned injured when the e-cigarettes they purchased in local shops suddenly exploded. The battery exploded while in the pants pockets of Iversen and Phillips, and Garza’s exploded in his face as he used it.

“Many consumers don’t know or are unaware of the fact that e-cigarettes and ‘vapes’ that are commonly sold in our community have the potential of exploding during use, or spontaneously catching fire,” said Matthew Clark, attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “These items are being marketed and sold without regulation oftentimes to young people in our community who have no idea that the ‘vape’ they’re carrying in their pocket, or e-cigarette they’re putting up to their mouths, can explode and catch fire. As you can imagine, as people are using these devices right next to their faces or carrying them on their person when they catastrophically malfunction, the injuries can be severe and life-changing.”

According to the American Lung Association, electronic cigarette use among young people surpassed traditional cigarette use in 2015 for the first time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the sale and marketing of traditional cigarettes, but does not have authority over e-cigarettes. Additionally, the e-cigarette industry continues to operate with little oversight as manufacturers and sellers rake in billions of dollars.

And now, reports of e-cigarettes exploding when used and causing fires and major injuries are making headlines across the nation. Chain | Cohn | Stiles, on behalf of the victims, has filed complaints against the sellers and manufacturers of e-cigarettes.

Attorneys Matthew Clark and Neil Gehlawat from Chain | Cohn | Stiles – accompanied by a local victim – hosted a press conference recently to discuss the cases. Attorney Gregory L. Bentley held a press conference for Los Angeles area media related to these cases as well. To see complete coverage of these cases, see the “media coverage” section below.

Several of the victims described that they began using e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking, and believing they were safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Instead, they said, they caused more harm.

  • Garza was using the e-cigarette in October in his bathroom when it exploded in his mouth and caused severe injuries to his mouth, tongue and finger. His left index finger was amputated to the first knuckle as a result of the explosion. He also had surgery on his tongue immediately after the explosion, and was hospitalized for seven days. Luxor Café Vape Lounge, Fame Vape and manufacturer Flawless Vapes and Supplies LLC are named as defendants.
  • Phillips suffered second-degree burns over most of his left leg September, which required two skin graft surgeries, after the vape exploded in his pants pocket. Cigarette World is named as a defendant.
  • Iversen was a passenger in a car in November when the device exploded in his pocket. He, too, suffered severe left thigh burns, is unable to work, and uses a cane to walk.

The lawsuits state that e-cigarettes and their components, including lithium ion batteries and chargers, are unsafe and that the businesses in the supply chains failed to properly warn of the defects.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is working with attorney Gregory L. Bentley of the Claremont area on these cases.

———-

If you or someone you know has been injured while using an e-cigarette or vape, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com and fill out a contact form.

———-

KERN COUNTY MEDIA COVERAGE

LOS ANGELES MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files wrongful death lawsuit in case of boy who died after collapsing at Delano school

November 17, 2015 | 3:01 pm


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of 13-year-old Jose Manuel Beltran, who died after collapsing in January in a Delano school gymnasium.

Jose collapsed while running sprints in physical education class in Cecil Avenue Middle School’s gymnasium. After he collapsed, school employees failed to provide and summon medical attention to Jose, including performing CPR or other life-saving procedures. When paramedics finally arrived on scene, Jose was taken to Delano Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Wrongful death attorneys Matt Clark and Neil Gehlawat – joined by Jose’s parents, Livia Salas and Jose Beltran – held a press conference recently to discuss the filing of the lawsuit and the circumstances surrounding Jose’s tragic death.

“This tragedy should concern all parents of school-age children,” Clark said. “Every parent expects that if their child has a medical emergency at school, emergency medical treatment will be summoned immediately. It is also not unreasonable for parents to expect that P.E. teachers be trained in CPR and provide it when necessary.”

CASE DETAILS

Jose Beltran collapsed on the morning of Jan. 26 in a physical education class at Cecil Avenue Middle School in Delano. Delano police dispatchers received a 911 call that morning, via Canada, and seconds later was transferred to the Kern County Fire Department’s emergency communications center, according to findings first reported by The Bakersfield Californian.

According to the police reports, district nurse Sylvia Clines was at another school campus when Jose collapsed, and had missed a call from Cecil Avenue clerk Estefania Guzman. When Clines called back, Guzman told her a student in the school gym appeared to be suffering from a seizure. At that point, Clines told Guzman to call 911. Another call then came in from P.E. teacher Jessica Ramirez, who told Clines that Jose was not breathing.

When Clines arrived on the Cecil Avenue campus at about 9:30 a.m., she found Jose face down on the floor. This indicates that Jose lay unconscious on the floor for some minutes without CPR being administered.

Jose’s cause of death was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick or enlarged, which can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. The condition often goes undiagnosed because many people with the disease have few, if any, symptoms. Immediate medical attention is vital for those who experience cardiac arrest.

LAWSUIT FILED

Defendants in the suit are the Delano Union School District and five of its employees, as well of the City of Delano, County of Kern and State of California in an effort to determine which agency is responsible for routing the call to Canada, and therefore delaying treatment for Jose.

After Jose’s death, his parents attempted on several occasions to obtain information from school administrators and Delano Police Department about exactly what happened with their son following his collapse, but were stonewalled and advised to retain an attorney.

Several questions remain for the moment, but the filing of the lawsuit will allow Chain | Cohn | Stiles to get the answers, including whether teachers in the gym were CPR-certified, when the 911 call was made, how much time elapsed between Jose’s collapse and the 911 call, and why the call was routed to Canada, among others.

At the recent press conference, Jose’s parents described him as a shy and studious teenager who enjoyed playing video games and sports, and never caused any trouble. He leaves behind two younger siblings.

To see complete coverage of the press conference and news of the filing of the lawsuit, click the links below.

———-

PREVIOUS MEDIA COVERAGE (CLAIM FILED)

PRESS CONFERENCE, LAWSUIT MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps raise more than $50K to help local victims of DUI crashes in Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K

September 23, 2015 | 9:24 am


More than 500 Kern County community members — including dozens from the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles — joined together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to help put an end to drunken driving locally, and in the process raised more than $50,000 to support victims of DUI crashes.

The Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K 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 crashes. Saturday’s event brought together surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

Medals were given to the fastest runners in their age categories, with results being posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. Awards were also given to the top fundraisers. They were:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: MADD Dogs
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Michael Yraceburn
  • Top Corporate Team: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union
  • Kern County Law Enforcement Challenge Winner: Kern County District Attorney’s Office

“We want to thank our advocates, heroes, champions, partners, teams, participants and volunteers for making Kern County’s Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K a huge success,” said Carla Pearson, victim advocate for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will commit to continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and end drunk driving here.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles joined as the gold sponsor for the event. Several other local businesses also joined the fight to end drunk driving in Kern County, including Chevron and Kern Schools Federal Credit Union. For a full list of sponsors, click here.

The firm brought together more than 40 employees, friends and family members of employees, and a few clients of the firm, who are innocent victims of DUI crashes.

Several friends of the law firm donated to the Chain | Cohn | Stiles team. Their generosity is much appreciated. They included:

  • Dr. Geoffrey Miller
  • Tom Stevenson
  • Chad Barger

Several Chain | Cohn | Stiles employees also competed in the 5K race. Attorney Matt Clark finished in 11th place overall, and a family member of a firm employee finished in the top 10. For a complete race results list, click here. Below is the top 10 finishers, and their times:

  • Kelly Blikre: 20:21
  • Stacy Phelps: 20:39
  • Garrett Sugimoto 20:49
  • Carl Hatley: 21:05
  • Mark Riehle: 22:03
  • Arjan Ynostroza: 22:09
  • Adam Martinez: 22:12
  • Garrett Rice: 22:43
  • Laila Irogoyen: 23:09
  • Vernie Herman: 23:12

———-

MEDIA COVERAGE