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Snyder Law's Summary Judgment Upheld by Court of Appeal

November 9, 2011

On October 31, 2011, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, upheld Alfaro v. Harbor Auto Liquidators, preserving Snyder Law's earlier victory on Summary Judgment in the trial court. The ruling reaffirmed that a written waiver of all liability bars recovery by the plaintiffs.

On December 26, 2007, the plaintiffs Jorge Alfaro and Edwin Alvarado went to Harbor Auto Liquidators ("HAL") a self-service salvage yard to find a replacement side-mirror for a Lexus. Before they were admitted to the property, plaintiffs signed a waiver assuming "any and all risks and liability for injury arising out of or incident to" their entry on the premises. While removing a mirror from a Lexus, the plaintiffs were injured when a HAL employee driving a forklift, inadvertently pushed an adjacent car into the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs sued for negligence, and Barry Snyder won a Motion for Summary judgment.

Plaintiffs then brought their case to the Court of Appeal, arguing that 1) the language of the agreement was ambiguous, and 2) the agreement was ineffective to release reckless conduct. After oral argument, the Court held that the plaintiffs unambiguously assumed the risk of all negligence, including that of HAL. In doing so, the Court refused to consider new evidence regarding a Spanish translation of the waiver that had not been put forth in opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment. Additionally, the Court held that plaintiffs had failed to plead facts that would put gross negligence at issue.

Gregory M. Smith handled the appeal for Snyder Law.