Fatal distracted driving crash involving deputy in Los Angeles similar to local case

September 4, 2014 | 10:17 am


As was reported recently, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against a sheriff’s deputy who was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when he fatally struck a cyclist and prominent entertainment attorney in Calabasas in December.

He was riding his bicycle in the bicycle lane when the deputy’s patrol car hit him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The deputy was reportedly returning from a fire call at the time of the collision.

Even though the deputy was inattentive by typing into his mobile computer in his patrol car, the district attorney’s office reported, the deputy “was acting within the course and scope of his duties when he began to type his response” and “he acted lawfully.” In short, the law does not prohibit officers from using an electronic wireless communications device while on duty.

The cyclist’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county, the sheriff’s department and the deputy, alleging driver negligence and seeking to obtain more information about the incident.

The situation is similar to another case handled by the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, in which two people were struck and killed by Kern County Sheriff’s deputy patrol car as they were legally crossing a street. The deputy was driving 84 mph in a 45 mph zone before hitting them, as was responding to a call of a stolen vehicle; however, his emergency lights and siren were not turned on.

In March, the wrongful death case settled for $8.8 million, believed to be record-breaking for an automobile accident case against the County of Kern. Read more about the case here. In the criminal case, the deputy took a plea deal, and was sentenced today to 480 hours of community service. During his sentencing, the deputy apologized for the crash.

Simply, distracted driving is dangerous. The attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have provided tips in their website for drivers to avoid distracted driving.

  • Use your electronic device only when parked, or have a passenger use it.
  • Never use an electronic device or take notes while driving.
  • If your phone rings while driving, let the cellular voice mail service take the call and listen to the message later when you are parked.

These tips are meant to protect you, your family, and everyone else on the road. Other tips include:

  • Pay attention to the road: Do not take notes or look up phone numbers while driving. If you are reading an address book or business card while driving a car, or writing a “to-do” list, then you are not watching where you are going. It’s common sense. Don’t get caught in a dangerous situation because you are reading or writing and not paying attention to the road or nearby vehicles.
  • Do not engage in distracting conversations: Stressful or emotional conversations and driving do not mix. They are distracting and even dangerous when you are behind the wheel. Make people you are talking with aware you are driving. If necessary, suspend phone conversations which have the potential to divert your attention from the road.

For more tips, go to Chainlaw.com. And for more on distracted driving, laws and statistics, click here.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files lawsuit on behalf of family of jogger killed by driver who allegedly fell asleep

August 19, 2014 | 9:45 am


The Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has announced it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Jesse Rios. You can see the news release and media coverage below.

Rios was struck and killed by a truck driver while on a morning jog. The driver allegedly fell asleep at the wheel and jumped the curb where Rios was jogging. The crash investigation is ongoing.

To view media coverage of this case, click on the articles and news stories below the news release.

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Aug. 19, 2014 – NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Bakersfield, Calif. (Aug. 19, 2014) – By all accounts, 26-year-old Jesse Rios was a loving brother, father and son who worked two full-time jobs to take care of his family.

The East High School graduate especially loved his 4-year-old daughter Isabella, and wanted to make sure she could get all medical treatment available for her epilepsy. Jesus and his wife Clarissa would make frequent trips to Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera.

On Tuesday, July 29, while taking a morning jog, Jesse Rios was struck and killed by a truck that ran onto the sidewalk at Westholme Boulevard and Wilson Road near the Rios’ home. The driver, Eliseo Soto, 29, was behind the wheel when he allegedly fell asleep. According to media reports, he had finished a 12-hour shift at West Coast Casing Company.

“I’m heartbroken,” Clarissa Rios said. “Jesse was not just my husband. He was my best friend, my partner, my everything. There is not a minute that goes by every day where I don’t think about him. When my daughter says she misses her daddy and asks when he’ll be home, it takes everything from within me to hold back my tears. I know that going forward we have to stand together and be strong for Jesse, and my hope is that by filing this lawsuit, we will obtain justice for him.”

The Bakersfield personal injury law firm, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against West Coast Casing Company on behalf of Jesse’s wife, his daughter and his mother 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 Jesse Rios.

Matthew C. Clark, lead attorney for the family, added: “The death of Jesse Rios is a tragedy in every sense of the word. He was a devoted husband to his wife, a loving father to his daughter, and a loyal son to his mother. We know that filing this lawsuit will not bring Jesse back, but our hope is that it will hold wrongdoers accountable, bring a sense of closure to his family, and help compensate them for the unthinkable loss they have all suffered.”

The Rios family has requested privacy during this time. Bakersfield Police Department is continuing its investigation of the crash.

430 Truxtun Avenue, Suite 100 – Bakersfield, CA – 93301 – Phone: 661-323-4000

CHAIN | COHN | STILES is Kern County’s leading plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm, voted Bakersfield’s “Best Law Firm” in The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers Choice Poll the last two years in a row. Our Bakersfield personal injury attorneys have represented clients from throughout the San Joaquin Valley and California for 80 years. We concentrate our efforts on protecting the rights of individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another. If you have been injured due to the fault of another, you have the right to hold that person or entity accountable, no matter how rich or powerful that person or entity may be. At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we pride ourselves on having the reputation and resources necessary to overcome the most difficult challenges while achieving the best possible results for our clients. For more information, go to chainlaw.com.

Find us on Facebook, Twitter (@chainlaw), Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp, Pintrest and Google+

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Jogger hit, killed near Castle Elementary School (KERO-23 ABC)

Pedestrian hit by truck on Wilson Road (Eyewitness News, KBAK-KBFX 29-58)

Police: Driver likely fell asleep before hitting, killing jogger (Eyewitness News, KBAK-KBFX 29-58)

Family mourns man killed while on morning run (Eyewitness News, KBAK-KBFX 29-58)

Local runners put on event for Jesus Rios’ family (Eyewitness News, KBAK-KBFX 29-58)

Police: Driver who hit runner, fell asleep at the wheel (KGET-17, NBC)

Family remembers pedestrian killed (KGET-17, NBC)

Local runners honor man hit, killed in southwest Bakersfield (KGET-17, NBC)

Pedestrian hit by truck on Wilson Road (The Bakersfield Californian)

Truck runs onto sidewalk, kills pedestrian (The Bakersfield Californian)

‘First Look’: First News for July 30 (The Bakersfield Californian)

Family of jogger hit and killed sues driver’s company (The Bakersfield Californian) (Newspaper link HERE)

Family of jogger killed in crash files lawsuit (Eyewitness News, KBAK-KBFX 29-58)

Radio show: CCS managing partner speaks on Silva wrongful death case

June 23, 2014 | 9:21 am


Discover Politics Progressive Internet Radio with AndreaMiller0 on BlogTalkRadio

CCS Managing Partner David Cohn on Saturday was a special guest on a national radio show to discuss the ongoing wrongful death case involving David Silva.

To listen to the hour-long interview, which also features the brother of David Silva — Chris Silva — press play on the player above, or CLICK HERE.

The two were the guests of Jacque DelRio, who hosts the radio show, Chicano Chronicles. The program is featured by the Progressive Democrats of America, a political organization that works inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice.

The focus of Saturday’s program was an ongoing wrongful death case involving David Silva, brought by Bakersfield personal injury law firm. Here’s a synopsis on that case:

On the night of May 7, 2013, David S. Silva was asleep in front of a home in east Bakersfield, across from Kern Medical Center. Several law enforcement officers arrived on scene and proceeded to use unreasonable and excessive force in striking Silva with batons several times all over his body, while he screamed for his life and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. After being repeatedly beaten, bitten and hog-tied, Silva stopped breathing.

Shortly after midnight, Silva was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

On the one-year anniversary of the event, veteran personal injury attorney David Cohn — who is representing the family of David Silva — released the following statement:

“Today marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic and unfortunate death of David Silva at the hands of local law enforcement from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol. Although disappointed, we were not surprised by District Attorney Lisa Green’s decision several weeks ago to not pursue criminal charges against these officers. That being said, we remain committed to obtaining justice on behalf of David and his entire family, especially his four children, who will be without a father for the rest of their lives. The road to obtaining justice will be a difficult one; however, we are confident that in the end, the truth will prevail and justice will be done. This case is certainly about David Silva and about what happened to him, but it is also about much more than that. It is about changing the culture of local law enforcement in this community, and holding law enforcement officers who use unreasonable and excessive force accountable for their actions.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a civil rights lawsuit in connection with the wrongful death of David Silva. The lawsuit arises out of an incident at the intersection of Flower Street and Palm Street in Bakersfield, when David Silva died as a result 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 Silva.

Since Silva’s death, family members and other supporters have been rallying for justice. Among the most outspoken is David Silva’s brother, Chris, who was also a guest on the radio show.

Progressive Democrats of America was founded in 2004 “to transform the Democratic Party and our country.” The group seeks to build a party and a government controlled by citizens, not corporate elites, with policies that serve the broad public interest, not just private interests.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles marks one-year anniversary of David Silva wrongful death

May 8, 2014 | 10:50 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles on Thursday morning released a statement to local media marking the one-year anniversary of the wrongful death of David Silva. The Bakersfield personal injury law firm is representing the family of Silva. For news coverage of the anniversary of Silva’s death, follow CCS on social media or return to this blog.

UPDATE: Several media outlets covered the one-year anniversary and protests. See them below.

The news release is as follows:

—–

May 8, 2014

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Family, attorney mark one-year anniversary of wrongful death of David Silva

Bakersfield, Calif. (May 8, 2014) – On the night of May 7, 2013, David S. Silva was asleep in front of a home in east Bakersfield, across from Kern Medical Center. Several law enforcement officers arrived on scene and proceeded to use unreasonable and excessive force in striking Silva with batons several times all over his body, while he screamed for his life and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. After being repeatedly beaten, bitten and hog-tied, Silva stopped breathing.

Shortly after midnight, Silva was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“Today marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic and unfortunate death of David Silva at the hands of local law enforcement from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner with Chain | Cohn | Stiles, who is representing the Silva family. “Although disappointed, we were not surprised by District Attorney Lisa Green’s decision several weeks ago to not pursue criminal charges against these officers. That being said, we remain committed to obtaining justice on behalf of David and his entire family, especially his four children, who will be without a father for the rest of their lives.”

He continued: “The road to obtaining justice will be a difficult one; however, we are confident that in the end, the truth will prevail and justice will be done. This case is certainly about David Silva and about what happened to him, but it is also about much more than that. It is about changing the culture of local law enforcement in this community, and holding law enforcement officers who use unreasonable and excessive force accountable for their actions.”

Attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles will be in attendance and support the family of David Silva as they hold a rally at 4 p.m. today at the Liberty Bell outside of Kern County Superior Court, on the corner of Truxtun and Chester avenues.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a civil rights lawsuit in connection with the wrongful death of David Silva. The lawsuit arises out of an incident at the intersection of Flower Street and Palm Street in Bakersfield, when David Silva died as a result 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 Silva.

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1430 Truxtun Avenue, Suite 100 – Bakersfield, CA – 93301 – Phone: 661-323-4000

CHAIN | COHN | STILES is Kern County’s leading plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm. Our Bakersfield personal injury attorneys have represented clients from throughout the San Joaquin Valley and California for 80 years. We concentrate our efforts on protecting the rights of individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another. If you have been injured due to the fault of another, you have the right to hold that person or entity accountable, no matter how rich or powerful that person or entity may be. At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we pride ourselves on having the reputation and resources necessary to overcome the most difficult challenges while achieving the best possible results for our clients. For more information, go to chainlaw.com.

Find us on Facebook, Twitter (@chainlaw), Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp and Google+

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NEWS COVERAGE

KERO-23 (ABC): Silva family attorneys release statement on anniversary of David Silva’s death

KERO-23 (ABC): One year since David Silva died after confrontation with deputies

KERO-23 (ABC): Family marks one year anniversary of David Silva’s death with courthouse rally

New America Media/South Kern Sol: On Anniversary of David Silva Slaying, Protesters Demand Justice

KBAK/KBFX (Fox): Family says justice hasn’t been served for in-custody death

 

Welcome our newest associate: Chad J.A. Boyles

April 29, 2014 | 10:55 am


The law firm of Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently welcomed its eighth attorney to serve Bakersfield and Kern County.

Chad J. A. Boyles, an associate with the firm, is focusing on personal injury and wrongful death cases. And like most of the attorneys at the law firm, Chad was born and raised in Bakersfield, and decided to serve in his hometown and the people of Kern County. He joins a team of attorneys who were raised on local soil, attended local schools, and after receiving a law school education, returned back home to serve.

Here’s a little more about Chad:

He graduated from Highland High School in 2002. He earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Cal State Bakersfield, where he was also a part of Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society. He then attended Whittier Law School where he served as Managing Editor of the Law Review, and had the honor of being published in the review. He graduated cum laude from Whittier in 2010.

After law school, Chad worked briefly in Pasadena before returning to Bakersfield and joining another local firm. For two years, he litigated state cases covering a wide variety of legal issues, including personal injury and civil rights. Chad has also provided advice and counseling to clients facing legal issues on a volunteer basis at Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc.

When he’s not working, Chad likes to cook, eat out at restaurants, and travel. He’s toured throughout the United States, studied abroad for a short time in France, and visited various other countries in Europe.

“I’m happy to be able to put my knowledge of our community to use in helping our clients,” Chad said.

If you have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, call the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers, including Chad, at 661-323-4000. Also, find Chad on our website, chainlaw.com.

UPDATE: Chad has been featured in the “People in Business” section of The Bakersfield Californian. To see the article, click HERE.

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

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: