Appellate Advocacy

The attorneys at HUGO PARKER have extensive experience before state and federal appellate courts in California, including the California Supreme Court. We handle appeals involving cases that our attorneys have litigated in lower courts, as well as matters originally tried by other firms. We have successfully briefed and argued a variety of complex matters including several legal issues of national importance. The extensive trial experience of the firm's most senior attorneys places HUGO PARKER in a unique position to both understand and communicate procedural and substantive issues in the appellate arena.


The California Supreme Court decided to impose on property owners and employers a duty to care to the members of an employee’s household for exposures to asbestos fibers brought home on the person of an employee. HP partner James Parker argued the case before the trial court and Court of Appeal, and participated with renowned appellate specialists Horvitz & Levy in the Supreme Court briefing and argument.
"Where it is reasonably foreseeable that workers, their clothing, or personal effects will act as vectors carrying asbestos from the premises to household members, employers have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent this means of transmission," Justice Goodwin Liu wrote for the seven-member court. Plaintiffs had urged the Court to go much farther and adopt a rule of unlimited liability for take home exposures.  The court accepted the defense arguments that if a duty were imposed, it should be narrowly circumscribed to household members.  "To be sure, there are other persons who may have reason to believe they were exposed to significant quantities of asbestos by repeatedly spending time in an enclosed space with an asbestos worker - for example, a regular carpool companion," Justice Liu wrote for the court in rejecting plaintiff’s expansive position.
The term "household members" was defined by the Court to include all "persons who live with the worker and are thus foreseeably in close and sustained contact with the worker over a significant period of time." That definition will likely generate additional litigation, as even the Supreme Court was unsure whether it included the plaintiff who sued HP’s client, a man who was a nephew of the worker at issue and who frequented the home - but never lived in the house. The case was remanded to the lower courts to make that determination.
The case is Kesner v. Pneumo Abex (December 1, 2016) 1 Cal.5th 1132, which was consolidated with Haver v BNSF Railroad.
The entire published opinion is linked here.


In an opinion issued December 21, 2016, a defense verdict obtained by HP partners James Parker and Shaghig Agopian after a 29 day trial was upheld by the California Court of Appeal.  Plaintiffs had soght to reverse the verdict on the grounds that at trial Parker had persistently adduced irrelevant evidence and made improper arguments that amounted to attorney misconduct.  Plaintiff had been exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma from the clothing and person of his father, a laborer at an asbestos factory in Long Beach, CA.  
In a 44-page opinion, the appellate court completely rejected plaintiff’s arguments of misconduct and ruled that the verdict was supported by substantial evidence. Plaintiff had urged the jury to find that Parker’s client’s product, raw asbestos, failed the consumer expectation test.  Parker argued, however, that at the time of the take home exposures, which was the mid to late 1970s, equipment, warnings and information had been forthcoming to plant workers, all of which demonstrated that an ordinary consumer by that time could not reasonably have had an expectation that asbestos was safe. The Court found no improper conduct and no error in the trial court’s evidentiary and instructional rulings. Under the circumstances, "Parker was free to argue that evidence to the jury."
The case is Baeza v. Special Electric (December 21, 2016) BC 264220.
The entire published opinion is linked here.

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