The lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are involved in some of the most significant cases in the Central Valley. Our vast experience and expertise in handling a variety of different cases allows us to obtain the best possible results for our clients. Over the years, we have been involved in a variety of important cases, ranging from police misconduct cases to oilfield accident cases to product liability cases. And while every case handled by Chain | Cohn | Stiles is an important one for the lawyers, paralegals, and staff, the cases that follow represent just some of the diverse cases we’re working on currently.
Click each case to learn more, including media coverage.
- News Coverage: Wasco State Prison official killed in crash
Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of 72-year-old Nancy Joyce Garrett, who was killed when a Kern County Sheriff’s Office patrol car operated by Deputy Nicholas Clerico struck and killed her.
The filing of the lawsuit came on the heels of the release of the California Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) report regarding the crash that occurred on Sept. 28, 2014, at the intersection of North Chester Avenue and China Grade Loop in Oildale. The report found Deputy Clerico at fault in the crash, and the CHP report recommended that a vehicular manslaughter charge be filed against the deputy.
Nancy was a friendly neighbor, a caregiver for our community, an active blogger, and the pillar of her family. She was a drug and alcohol counselor for the Kern County Mental Health Department, and also volunteered her time as a substance abuse counselor for STEPS, a local nonprofit that provides DUI awareness services. At the time of the crash, she was returning home from a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game she attended with her family and friends.
Nancy left behind a son, Mark, and a daughter, Deborah, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed claims on behalf of three students who were victims of sexual misconduct at North High School.
Kern County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Edwin Rodriguez on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with minors 14 to 15 years old, exhibiting harmful matter to a minor, annoying a child under 18 and false imprisonment. Local media reported 10 people came forward to investigators alleging inappropriate physical contact and other unwanted interaction by Rodriguez while he worked as an athletic equipment manager at North High School.
According to the victims, Rodriguez would give students sodas and candy, befriend them on the social media, and send them sexually explicit photos and videos, among other sexual misconduct that took place over several years.
“This sick man manipulated my daughter. She and I are very close, but she felt she was doing something wrong and was afraid to tell me about it,” said the mother of one of the victims. “My hope through this lawsuit is to prevent this from happening in the future, and to protect our students through better accountability and scrutiny of school officials.”
Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys and the parents of the victims advise other parents to talk to their children about boundaries with those authority.
“Take this opportunity to have a discussion with your teenager,” said David Cohn, personal injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Students should never have one-on-one conversations through social media or text messages with school personnel, coaches, or other adults in authority. And encourage them to speak up if someone in authority contacts them privately or crosses a line.”
Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed an elder abuse and neglect lawsuit against a Bakersfield senior rehabilitation center that resulted in the death of an 80-year-old man, longtime teacher, U.S. Army veteran, and husband of 57 years.
The elder abuse, elder neglect, wrongful death, and fraud complaint was on behalf of the widow of John Paul Owens against Brookdale Senior Living, Silvercrest Manor, and Wade Budney of “A Helping Hand Senior Care Services.”
Well into retirement, Paul began to suffer symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. He took a fall at home in 2017 that required him to have surgery on his leg and hip. After, Paul was placed in Brookdale Senior Living for daily care.
“So he could walk again, take care of himself again, so he could go back home and live with his wife of 57 years, that was the goal,” Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark told KGET News.
That didn’t happen. Paul developed large bed sores, pressure ulcers and received inadequate care. As an example, he was bathed just four times over a span of 35 days.
“Mr. Owens was continually denied the benefit of those interventions necessary to prevent the formation and progression of pressure ulcers,” according to the complaint.
Soon, Carol Owens was told Paul could no longer be housed at Brookdale, and needed to find another facility due to insurance issues. Brookdale contacted “A Helping Hand Senior Care Services,” ran by Wade Budney, to be discharged to Silvercrest.
“Budney puts [Owens] in his personal vehicle, this is a guy with two stage three pressure ulcers, a urinary catheter, a broken leg, hasn’t had rehab yet,” Clark told KGET.
Carol Owens added: “I was told if he wasn’t transferred that Wade would call and report me for elder abuse.”
The inadequate care continued at Silvercrest. Ultimately, the event prompted an investigation by the California Department of Public Health. The department found that Brookdale failed to prevent Paul Owens from developing ulcers, prematurely discharged him, and failed to safely discharge him to another facility.
Additionally, Budney falsely and misleadingly stated that Paul Owens would receive appropriate and adequate care at Silvercrest. He also concealed the fact that he would receive monetary compensation from Silvercrest.
Shortly after being admitted to Silvercrest, Paul Owens was taken to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. He died shortly after in January 2018.
“The main reason I’m doing this is I don’t want other people to have to go through this with loved ones, that’s the whole goal,” Carol Owens told KGET News.
A big rig truck driver was filling his tank with fuel at a Valero gas station west of Bakersfield when a tank ruptured in a catastrophic release of pressure. The explosion severely injured the driver, and collapsed the gas station.
Kern County Fire Department responded with a Hazmat team, as did Kern County Public Health Services. Crews secured the utilities by operating all emergency fuel shutoffs, and rescue efforts focused on the truck driver who was treated on scene, and transported to a local hospital, according to media reports.
The investigation into the explosion continues.
On the morning of Aug. 26, 2015, Steven Ojeda was driving to Wasco State Prison, where he worked as an associate warden, when a cloud of dust enveloped the roadway on Kimberlina Road, obscuring the vision of Ojeda and other drivers around him.
Just a few miles from his work, cars suddenly slowed as the area was covered in dust from people working in the fields. Ojeda crashed into the back of a vehicle, and was subsequently rear-ended by another vehicle. Tragically, Ojeda was killed in the crash.
“It is an extremely hard loss for our instruction and for our staff. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time,” Wasco State Prison officials said in a statement at the time of the crash.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of Ojeda’s family.
The plaintiff, a truck driver, was eastbound on Kimberlina Road near Wasco when the defendant, also a truck driver, heading northbound on Wildwood Road ran a stop sign, causing the plaintiff to collide with the defendant truck trailer, resulting in substantial injuries.
On April 17, 2018, Fernando Garcia, a maintenance worker for the city of Delano, was helping move boxes to a storage room. As he was moving the second set of boxes in the storage room, he collapsed.
He was taken to the hospital, and died three days later. He was married to his wife Elizabeth for 12 years, and he left behind three children.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the Garcia family in their workers’ compensation death benefits case.
Francisco Avalos Lopez was a first assistant foreman, which included the supervision of a crew of about 50 people, and was responsible for the production and output of his crew. The physical job required him to provide water, shade, and clean the portable toilets for his crew before the start of the workday.
On July 28, 2017, the crew was having an early morning meeting when Avalos collapsed holding his chest, and said, “heart.”
He left behind a wife and had three children. Days before his death, he had told his wife that he wanted to leave the job at the end of the season due to stress.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the Avalos family in their workers’ compensation death benefits case.
A juvenile girl working at Domino’s Pizza in Bakersfield was struck by gunfire during an altercation at the restaurant.
A 20-year-old was taken into custody in connection with the shooting, facing multiple charges including robbery, burglary and negligent discharge of a gun. Bakersfield Police Department reported that the man argued with employees, began to forcibly take food, began assaulting employees and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, police say a gun possessed by the man fell to the floor and discharged, striking the girl.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the girl in her workers’ compensation work injury case.