Recent Cases Summer 2019 Defense Comment i Summary of Selected Federal and California Supreme Court and Appellate Cases Editor’s Note: As always, remember to carefully check the subsequent history of any case summarized as the reported decisionsmayhavebeendepublishedorhavehadreviewgranted. NEGLIGENCE; GROSS NEGLIGENCE; PUBLIC ENTITIES; DUTY Arista v. County of Riverside (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 271 FACTS: The victim in Riverside County left his home around 7:00 a.m. for a 55-mile bike ride to Mount Santiago. He told his family that he would be back around 2:00 p.m. When he did not return by 3:00 p.m., his wife attempted to reach him on his cell phone, but there was no response. Finally, around 5:00 p.m. she was able to reach him; he said he had fallen on the way down from the peak. She called the local police and later that afternoon the Sheriff’s Department arrived at the family home and found out the circumstances of the case. Outside the home, somebodytoldSheriffHallthatthevictimwas“having an affair” and was probably not missing. Sheriff Hall chosetobelievethatperson. TheSheriff’sDepartment declinedtoperformanighttimesearch,althoughthey said if the missing person was a child, they could have used a helicopter. They were aware that the victim did not have extra clothing and did not seem overly concernedaboutoverexposure. ThroughVerizonand “pinging,” they were able to determine the location of the victim. The Sheriff’s Department said they would By Michael J. Brady Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEAL CASES look for the victim in the morning and told the wife that it was advisable for her not to do a search on her own. After the Sheriff’s Department left, however, the wife and her family started a search and, among other things, contacted a volunteer organization which madewildernessrescues. Thisgroupfoundthevictim on a fire road off the peak, but he was already dead from overexposure. A wrongful death action alleging negligence and gross negligence was filed. The trial court sustained a demurrer without leave to amend and dismissed the case. APPELLATE COURT DECISION: Reversed. Clearly, a duty was owed by the County to the plaintiff. They indicated that they would be undertaking a search, thefamilyreliedonthatatfirstand,therefore,delayed their own efforts to find the victim. The County had the capability of performing a nighttime search, but declined to do so. Plaintiff’s complaint was adequate inalleginggrossnegligence,whichmakesinapplicable anyimmunitystatutespertainingtorescueoperations. Plaintiff should therefore be allowed to proceed with her claims.