Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Gonzalez v. Mathis (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 6, 2018)

It's a premises liability case where a window washer falls off a roof while cleaning a skylight.  So he sues the homeowner.

Okay.  I'm sure the guy was injured somewhat seriously.  Plus, the house at issue is in the Hollywood Hills, and has an indoor pool.  So I'm fairly confident the homeowner is decently wealthy.  Given the likely stakes at issue, and the wealth of the defendant, you'd expect that some decent attorneys would represent the defendant.

But Latham & Watkins?  They're not exactly a personal injury defense firm.  And cost a fair penny. What the heck are they doing on this case?

So I check out the caption.  The defendant's name is John R. Mathis.  I'm figuring that maybe the guy's a partner at Latham.  Or some other big name attorney who's friends with someone at Latham.

Nope.  No dice.

Well, the guy's in Los Angeles.  Maybe I can find out some stuff about him online.

When suddenly it hits me.  John R. Mathis.  John Mathis.  Johnny Mathis.

Now it all makes sense.

To her credit, Justice Zelon doesn't even hint at this in her opinion.  It's just another case in L.A. to the Court of Appeal.  No star-struck references in the opinion to music lyrics, song titles, etc.

One still wonders whether it's really worth having Latham & Watkins on the case.  Particularly when you discover that Mathis loses in the Court of Appeal, and the case is remanded back for trial.

Still, even good lawyers lose sometimes.  Not necessarily their fault at all.

Though some of the statements in the Court of Appeal's opinion don't exactly make Latham look all that great.  Like this one:

"In a footnote to the introductory section of his respondent’s brief, Mathis argues we may affirm the trial court’s judgment on an alternative ground, asserting that “Gonzalez is estopped from recovery because he mispresented [sic] himself as having worker’s compensation insurance, as required by California state law, and which would have compensated him for his injuries, and improperly seeks to require Mathis to compensate him for an injury that should have been covered by his own claimed insurance.” Mathis’s brief presents no further argument on this issue. “We . . . need not address . . . contention[s] made only in a footnote.” [Citations]; see also People v. Lucatero (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 1110, 1115 [“A footnote is not a proper place to raise an argument on appeal”].)."

As for Mathis, this week ain't his week.  But it's probably a better day than a couple of years ago.  Which seems to involve the same home at issue here.  One totally destroyed in a fire.

Bad ju-ju.