Recent cases of interest
Vicarious liability; negligent entrustment; comparative fault; Proposition.
the Court held that if an employer admits vicarious liability for any negligent driving by its employee, the plaintiff cannot maintain a concurrent claim against the employer for neg-ligent entrustment. The trial court allowed the plaintiff to proceed to verdict on both theories and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that Armenta was inconsistent with the current system of comparative fault. Reversed. Armenta remains a good law. If you want business lawyer free consultation hire a business lawyer who gives you all details about business matters.
An employer who is vicariously liable for its employee’s tort cannot be held to a higher degree of fault than the employee, and is not a “concurrent tortfeasor” whose fault is included in the universe of tortfeasors included in a proposition 51 allocation. It was an error for the trial court to admit evidence of the employee’s poor driving and other misconduct on the negligent- entrustment claim, and this error was prejudicial.
Preemption,* Cal. Confidentiality of Medical Information Act; HIPAA; Fair Credit Reporting Act: Brown v. Mortensen
Both state and federal law regulate the mishandling of medical information and credit information. In California, the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA), Civil Code section 56, and the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act, Civil Code section 1785.1, et seq, address these concerns. Federal law in the area includes the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (42 U.S.C. § 1320d et seq., inter alia) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.) The issue considered in this case was whether the federal statutes preempted the plaintiff's claim under the CMIA. Held: there was no preemption.
Plaintiff and his children were patients of dentist Reinholds. In July 2000 Reinholds billed plaintiff $600 for a dental crown, which plaintiff never received. He thus declined to pay the bill. Reinholds referred the debt to Mortensen, who attempted to collect it.
In the process of his collection efforts Mortensen sent copies of plaintiffs’ dental records and those of his children to the national credit reporting companies and other third parties, in violation of the CMIA. The trial court dismissed plaintiffs’ claim as preempted under federal law, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Congress did not intend the state remedies in the CMIA to be preempted. The overall statutory scheme and the pertinent legislative history reveals evidence suggesting Congress never intended in the FCRA or HIPAA to preempt state laws regulating medical privacy and thereby to relieve entities otherwise obligated to maintain confidentiality of the duty to do so when reporting credit information.
The distinction was based upon yet another AT&T case, Kaliwasser v. AT&T Mobility LLC, No. 07-411, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106783, 2011 WL 4381748, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 20, 2011), in which the court observed that “it is not clear that Green Tree’s solicitude for the vindication of rights applies to rights arising under state law."
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