The lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are involved in some of the most significant cases in Kern County. 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. The cases on this page represent just some of the important cases we’re currently working on.
For more than 20 years, Larry Eugene Maharrey, 59, worked for Golden State Drilling as a diesel mechanic to provide for his family. At his vigil, friends and family described him as “a good man” who would do anything for anyone in need. He especially enjoyed fishing and riding his motorcycle.
On July 14, Larry Maharrey was driving his motorcycle eastbound on Norris Road, when Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Marvin Gomez abruptly made a left turn against a red light onto Airport Drive directly into Maharrey’s path. Maharrey was unable to avoid the collision with Deputy Gomez’s patrol vehicle, and died as a result of the crash.
Deputy Gomez violated KCSO policies and procedures by failing to pre-clear the intersection before turning left against a red light. In what has become a tragic and unfortunate trend, Maharrey’s death comes at the heels of another wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of the family of Nancy Garrett, who was struck and killed by KCSO deputy Nicholas Clerico.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death claim against the County of Kern on behalf of Maharrey’s wife, Paula, and other family members.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing three Bakersfield residents who suffered major burn injuries when electronic cigarettes, or “vapes,” they were using failed and exploded spontaneously. Roy Iversen, Vicente Garza and Greg Phillips were each severely burned injured when the e-cigarettes they purchased in local shops suddenly exploded. The battery exploded while in the pants pockets of Iversen and Phillips, and Garza’s exploded in his face as he used it.
“Many consumers don’t know or are unaware of the fact that e-cigarettes and ‘vapes’ that are commonly sold in our community have the potential of exploding during use, or spontaneously catching fire,” said Matthew Clark, attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “These items are being marketed and sold without regulation oftentimes to young people in our community who have no idea that the ‘vape’ they’re carrying in their pocket, or e-cigarette they’re putting up to their mouths, can explode and catch fire. As you can imagine, as people are using these devices right next to their faces or carrying them on their person when they catastrophically malfunction, the injuries can be severe and life-changing.”
Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of 13-year-old Jose Manuel Beltran, who died after collapsing in January in a Delano school gymnasium.
Jose collapsed while running sprints in physical education class in Cecil Avenue Middle School’s gymnasium. After he collapsed, school employees failed to provide and summon medical attention to Jose, including performing CPR or other life-saving procedures. When paramedics finally arrived on scene, Jose was taken to Delano Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
“This tragedy should concern all parents of school-age children,” Attorney Matt Clark said. “Every parent expects that if their child has a medical emergency at school, emergency medical treatment will be summoned immediately. It is also not unreasonable for parents to expect that P.E. teachers be trained in CPR and provide it when necessary.”
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.
The occupants of the truck – Issac Macias, 20, and passenger Ibrahim Essa Gomes, 19 – fled the scene of the crash without calling the police or summoning medical help. Both Macias and Gomes were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. After the pickup collided with Leslie, Gomes got out of the pickup and looked at her, telling CHP officers later that “she didn’t look like she got that messed up,” despite her not moving. Macias never got out of the pickup.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Leslie’s mother, Evelyn Denise Natividad, against Macias and Gomes, as well as Exelon Generation Company, LLC and First Solar, Inc., who employed Macias at the time of the collision and entrusted him with the pickup.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed two claims against the County of Kern on behalf of two females who were sexually assaulted in separate incidents by Kern County Juvenile Corrections officers while the girls were housed at James G. Bowels Juvenile Hall.
In one of the cases, Jane Doe 1 was housed at James G. Bowles Juvenile Hall from June 2014 through February 2015. While there, she enrolled in the Pathways Academy commitment program. Throughout September 2014, Kern County Corrections officer Cesar Holguin Navejar allegedly sexually assaulted her. When she reported the incident, supervisors initiated an administrative and criminal investigation. On Oct. 30, 2014, Navejar was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting Jane Doe 1.
His daughter Kathryn Dawson chose the Glenwood Gardens senior living facility (now known as Brookdale Riverwalk, Senior Living Solutions) as his new home. Fink was 77 and entering the early stages of dementia, in addition to being depressed from his wife’s passing. His seven kids thought the community at Glenwood Gardens would help him.
On Aug. 1, 2015, the Kern County Coroner’s Office called the family and informed them that Robert Kenneth Fink had died. Fink had drowned in the pool at Glenwood Gardens. It should have never happened. Residents must be cleared by a doctor to swim in the Glenwood Gardens pool, and, in fact, Fink had a letter from his doctor stating he should avoid the swimming pool. Fink’s family, with the help of Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming negligence and elder neglect in Fink’s death.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles and the Bakersfield Chapter of NAACP have filed government claims for wrongful arrest, excessive force and racial profiling against the city of Bakersfield and Bakersfield Police Department on behalf of two local college students.
After a night of studying on Dec. 5, Bakersfield College students Timothy Grismore, 21, and Xavier Hines, 19, were walking on the sidewalk on their way to get something to eat at Taco Bell when an unmarked patrol car approached them on Valhalla Drive, behind West High School, and shined lights on them. Two individuals, who later identified themselves as police officers, asked if Grismore and Hines were on probation or parole, and began to search them. The officers then slammed Grismore on the ground and struck him with batons, after he asked why he was being searched. He suffered bruises on his body and needed stitches to close wounds on his face. Both young men were detained overnight.
The Kern County District Attorney’s Office refused to file charges against them, stating the young men violated no laws, and the officers had no right to stop the two, search them or detain them.
The case comes after the state Attorney General’s Office announced its civil rights investigation into the “pattern and practice” of excessive force by local law enforcement. With the help of NAACP Bakersfield, the young men posted a video discussing the wrongful arrest, which has garnered nearly 250,000 views on the organization’s Facebook page.
The case is ongoing.