Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Suarez v. City of Corona (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 29, 2014)

A compressed natural gas (CNG) tank in a van explodes while being filled at a fueling station owned by the City of Corona, injuring a passenger, who sues the City.  The Fire Department investigates the explosion, tests the fuel lines and investigates the tank on the van, and concludes that the explosion was caused by "stress corrosion cracking" on the van's tank that resulted from sulfuric acid from contents in the cargo area of the van.  In short, it wasn't the City's fault.  In the slightest.

Plaintiff nonetheless continues to litigate against the City.  If by "litigate" we mean doesn't drop the suit; there's not really any depositions, etc. against the City.  The City eventually is forced to file a motion for summary judgment, which is predictably granted.

The trial court imposes sanctions against the plaintiff and his lawyers.  But the Court of Appeal holds that the particular statute the trial court applied only authorizes sanctions against parties, not lawyers.

Fair enough.

So the City wins the lawsuit, but loses its only enforceable sanction award.  A partial win.

One final point completes the story.  Although the lawsuit was frivolous, how much did the City of Corona spend to defend this lawsuit?  Over $135,000.

That's a fair piece of change for a lawsuit that indisputably had no merit.