California Court of Appeal

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Harb v. City of Bakersfield, F066839

In this case, plaintiff Harb suffered a stroke and crashed his car. The police officer who arrived on the scene mistakenly deduced that Harb was intoxicated, and did not call an ambulance immediately. As a result of the delay, Harb suffered significant brain damage rendering him unable to care for himself. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a defense verdict. The judgment is reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial, where: 1) there was a reasonable likelihood the police immunity instruction misled the jurors because it is unlikely the jurors would have understood that there was no immunity for a police officer who acted negligently; 2) when a plaintiff is seeking damages only for the aggravation or enhancement of an injury or condition, California will follow the majority view that a plaintiff’s precedent conduct cannot constitute comparative negligence when that conduct merely triggers the occasion for aid or medical attention; and 3) thus, under the facts of this case, the jury should not have been instructed on comparative negligence and defendants should not have been allowed to argue that Harb’s neglect of his high blood pressure was comparative negligence that rendered him responsible for all of the harm suffered.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 01/23/2015
  • Published 01/23/2015

Judges

  • Franson

Court

  • California Court of Appeal

Counsel