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Partner Michael Lebow and attorneys Gabriele Lashly and Jennifer Volcy obtained summary judgment on behalf of their clients in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Partner Michael Lebow and attorneys Gabriele Lashly and Jennifer Volcy obtained summary judgment on behalf of their clients in a wrongful death lawsuit. This article highlights the key aspects of the Court's decision and underscores the strength of our legal strategy.

The Case at Hand:

The case in question involved a tragic incident that occurred on our client's property. The decedent, who was the client’s gardener, was found submerged in the pool with a gas-powered blower strapped to his back. Plaintiffs, the decedent’s three heirs, filed suit against our clients.

The Elements of Negligence:

As the Court emphasized in its ruling, the elements of a cause of action for negligence are well-established. These elements include a legal duty to use due care, a breach of that duty, and a demonstration that the breach proximately caused the resulting injury (Ladd v. Cty. of San Mateo, 1996). Establishing the absence of any of these elements is crucial in defending against a negligence claim.

Absence of a Known Hazard:

One of the central arguments put forth by our legal team was that there was no evidence to support the existence of a dangerous condition that caused the decedent to fall into the pool. The Court acknowledged that the alleged "uneven deck" as the tripping hazard, which the plaintiffs contended, was not substantiated with certainty. Additionally, the patio and deck's visual cues, coupled with the fact that the decedent had been visiting the property for over five years, made any alleged hazard open and obvious.

Independent Contractor Relationship:

Furthermore, our defense relied on establishing that the decedent was an independent contractor and not an employee of our client. The Court recognized that when a landowner hires an independent contractor, the duty to ensure worker safety is primarily delegated to the contractor. In this case, our client did not exert control or direction over the decedent's work, and the decedent had been engaged in similar gardening work for others as well. Thus, our client was not liable for injuries resulting from a known hazard on the premises

Absence of Causation:

The Court also agreed with our arguments regarding the lack of evidence of causation. With no conclusive information about what caused the decedent to fall into the pool, it became a question of law rather than fact. The absence of any evidence linking the alleged dangerous condition to the incident further supported our defense, as mere speculation or conjecture cannot establish causation.

The Granting of Summary Judgment:

Based on the compelling arguments and the undisputed facts presented, the Court granted our motion for summary judgment. This significant ruling is a testament to the strength of our legal strategy, the expertise of our attorneys, and our commitment to achieving favorable outcomes for our clients.


We are proud to have successfully represented our client in this case, securing a favorable ruling through a motion for summary judgment. This victory highlights our firm's proficiency in analyzing complex legal issues, crafting compelling arguments, and strategically presenting evidence to safeguard our clients' interests. As a result, we continue to uphold our reputation as a trusted and accomplished law firm in providing exceptional legal services to our clients.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.