• Posts by Kelly Winter Weil

    Kelly W. Weil is a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP's Santa Monica office, where she litigates on behalf of consumers, businesses, municipalities, whistleblowers, and injured individuals. Kelly handles a wide variety ...

Despite courthouse doors closing throughout California starting in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and making in-person jury trials nearly impossible, tens of thousands of Plaintiffs have made monumental progress in their individual cases against Southern California Gas Company – the largest distributor of natural gas in the United States – related to the largest uncontrolled release of natural gas in U.S. history. 

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Polyfluoroalkyl substances; It’s a mouthful, which is why they go by the acronym, PFAS. These substances are also known as “forever chemicals” because they persist “forever” in groundwater, and thus in drinking water. For decades, PFAS chemicals were widely used in the manufacturing of household products and for industrial uses, leading to widespread contamination of groundwater, water treatment plants, and landfills across the U.S. As a result, PFAS contamination is an emerging environmental crisis across the country, which has given rise to litigation in many states.

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Corporate Defendants may try to block the depositions of top-level executives and agency heads on the basis that the witness is an “apex witness.” The general rule in California and federal court is that agency heads and other top governmental executives are not subject to deposition absent compelling reasons. “The general rule is based upon the recognition that an official’s time and the exigencies of his everyday business would be severely impeded if every plaintiff filing a complaint against an agency head, in his official capacity, were allowed to take his oral deposition.” Contractors’ State License Bd. v. Superior Court (2018) 23 Cal.App.5th 125, 131. Further, top-level corporate executives are generally considered apex witnesses for the same reasons. See Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1979) 10 Cal. App. 4th 1282.

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Nursing Home Residents Among the Vulnerable Populations Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people differently. Vulnerable populations who are inherently disadvantaged in protecting themselves against illness have, sadly, died from COVID-19 disproportionately to the population at large. The numbers are staggering. Reports show that 42% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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