Recent Wins

Court reverses $15+ million judgment against GMSR’s client, invalidating CACI instruction regarding determination of employee or independent contractor status

Bowman v. Tommie Wyatt, Jr., et al. (2010) 186 Cal. App. 4th 286 (California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Four) [published]. A jury found that GMSR’s client, the City of Los Angeles, was vicariously liable for the negligence of a truck driver who was under contract with the City. Plaintiff Bowman suffered catastrophic injuries when the truck collided with his motorcycle. The jury awarded over $15 million. GMSR persuaded the Court of Appeal that CACI 3704, the standard jury instruction on how to determine whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor, misstates the law because it places undue emphasis on one out of many factors relevant to the determination.

Because the jury rendered a general verdict, getting the reversal entailed negating each of Bowman’s multiple liability theories. Apart from the CACI 3704 issue, the opinion overturns the jury’s verdict as to peculiar risk of harm; holds as a matter of law that the City was not the truck’s motor carrier; and finds there was no substantial evidence that defective brakes proximately caused the accident.