Clemente v. State of California

40 Cal. 3d 202, 219 Cal. Rptr. 445, 707 P.2d 818 (1985)

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Clemente v. State of California

California Supreme Court
40 Cal. 3d 202, 219 Cal. Rptr. 445, 707 P.2d 818 (1985)

Facts

Jose Clemente (plaintiff) was severely injured when he was struck by a motorcycle while he was attempting to cross a street. The motorcyclist who struck Clemente was never apprehended, and Clemente sued the State of California and Officer Arthur Loxsom of the California Highway Patrol (defendants), alleging negligence for failing to discover the motorcyclist’s identity. After the trial court granted Loxsom and the state’s motion to dismiss, the court of appeal reversed and remanded, holding that Clemente could state a cause of action against Loxsom and the state. In the interim, in a different case—Williams v. State of California—the California Supreme Court rejected the appellate court’s reasoning that allowed Clemente to allege that Loxsom and the state owed him a duty. The Williams court held that in a situation of dependency resulting in detrimental reliance, a patrol officer may have a duty to refrain from conduct that could prevent others from giving assistance. Thereafter, Clemente amended his complaint and the case proceeded to trial and Clemente obtained a $2 million judgment. Loxsom and the state appealed and argued that the law-of-the-case doctrine that would require adherence to the prior appellate court decision did not apply to the case on remand because the interim supreme court decision (Williams) was an intervening or contemporaneous change in the law rendering application of the doctrine unjust in their case.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Broussard, J.)

Concurrence (Kaus, J.)

Dissent (Lucas, J.)

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