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USC Student Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Professor and School

A doctoral student in social work at USC was assaulted and sexually harassed by her dissertation advisor while on a school/work related trip to New Orleans. She is 34 year old Karissa Fenwick. She made an internal complaint to the University and they investigated and made findings that she was, in fact, sexually harassed and the perpetrator, Dr. Guerrero attempted to use his influence over her to get her to not make a complaint. Despite these findings, Dr. Guerrero remained employed at USC. He then challenged the findings claiming that Karissa came on to him and that he was frequently pursued by female students and that he was known as the Hot Latino Professor. Despite providing 9 supposed witnesses to these defenses, not one of the witnesses supported him. Finally, the University administered terribly light discipline of basically a suspension for one semester. The lawsuit claims that the discipline should have been far more serious—he should have been fired. This was the second time that he sexually harassed a student that we know about. Karissa has been forced to avoid campus while Dr. Guerrero continues to work for USC.

Read full complaint here

from Juris Productions

News Coverage:

CBS Los Angeles

USC Student’s Sexual Harassment Claim Backed, But Professor Still On Staff 

Daily Trojan

Student files sexual harassment lawsuit against professor and USC

Social work faculty pens letter condemning USC’s actions after sexual harassment complaint

EDITORIAL BOARD: USC must engage in dialogue with students


USC Grad Student Sues Professor, University Over Sexual Harassment


USC Grad Alleges Sexual Harassment by Professor

Los Angeles Daily News

USC Graduate Students Sues University, Associate Professor Over Sexual Harassment 

NBC Los Angeles

Lawsuit Targets USC for Retaining Tenured Professor Accused of Sexual Harassment

LA West Media

“I Was Terrified,” USC Grad Student Says Her Reports Of Sexual Harassment Were Ignored

USC Annenberg Media

USC doctoral student sued the school over its response to sexual harassment

Capital & Main

Students Blast USC’s Handling of Sexual Harassment Case


Why Low-Income Families in Oakland Are Less Likely to Pursue Wrongful Death Cases

Income inequality has been a hot topic of discussion among the American public for many years. Various studies show that income growth seems to happen only for society’s highest earners, while low and middle-income families see little to no wealth growth over time. The Bay Area of California has some of the most staggering income inequality in the country, which could be a major reason why lower-income families in the Oakland area may not pursue wrongful death claims.

How Income Affects Wrongful Death Claims

Filing wrongful death claims requires time and money that most lower-income households simply do not have. Additionally, legal fees for representation in a wrongful death claim could comprise a substantial portion of a lower-income plaintiff’s settlement or case award. The cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area has also grown astronomically in the past several years, further hindering lower-income families’ flexibility when it comes to paying for legal representation.

Lower-income areas are generally less safe and less healthy than wealthier areas, so residents of lower-income neighborhoods are more susceptible to illness and injuries from negligence. Lower-income neighborhoods are also more likely to encounter environmental health hazards, such as contaminated drinking water, poor air quality, dangerous roads, and more safety issues. The life expectancy for people born in these areas is significantly lower than in wealthier areas, sometimes by as much as a decade or more.

Few choices when it comes to food also present problems for lower-income areas of Oakland. Many individuals in these neighborhoods do not own their own vehicles, and the area’s poor standards drove away businesses including grocery stores. In their place, establishments like check cashing businesses, fast food restaurants, corner markets, and liquor stores have taken root, offering the local populace minimal choice for healthier foods. For someone living in this area without a car, the choice between a trip down the block to a corner store for a cheap meal or a half-hour bus ride to the nearest grocery store isn’t really a choice.

Limited Legal Options

Many people file wrongful death claims when loved ones die from the negligence of other parties, unsafe environmental conditions, or lax public policies. Suing the government or a local municipality is much more complex than filing suit against another private citizen, and this may discourage many lower-income families from pursuing wrongful death claims.

Most people who decide to pursue wrongful death claims for loved ones lost due to negligence face complicated legal entanglements that can involve multiple defendants, a plethora of documentation, and long, drawn-out hearings and court battles. A lower-income family may not be able to secure adequate legal assistance for pursuing a wrongful death claim, or the possible settlement amount isn’t enough to justify the expense on attorney fees.

Despite the challenges facing lower-income neighborhoods in Oakland, it is important for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one in a wrongful death to explore their legal options. Surviving loved ones can secure compensation for a deceased loved one’s final expenses and medical bills, as well as compensation for their suffering and loss of a loved one. If you find yourself in such a situation, reach out to a reliable wrongful death attorney for a consultation to determine whether pursuing a claim would be a prudent choice.



Pedestrian Injuries in Oakland

Hundreds of pedestrians suffer serious injuries from accidents with motor vehicles every year in Oakland. In some cases, pedestrians do not pay attention to changing road conditions and proceed in unsafe ways. In others, drivers do not pay attention to the pedestrians nearby or make sudden maneuvers too fast for pedestrians to react. The court considers drivers as having a higher duty of care than pedestrians when it comes to preventing accidents. Therefore, the court almost always sides with pedestrians in legal disputes with drivers who hit them. However, California’s negligence laws still allow pedestrians found partially at fault for their injuries to collect compensation through personal injury claims.

Negligence in California

California follows a comparative negligence law, meaning a plaintiff can recover compensation for damages, even if he or she was partially at fault for the injury-causing accident. In pedestrian accident cases, this may apply to pedestrians who cross the road on a “Do Not Walk” or red light. It could also apply to pedestrians making unsafe or illegal decisions, such as jaywalking or walking on the highway. The jury reviewing a pedestrian accident case will certainly take the pedestrian’s behavior at the time of the accident into account when making a determination of liability.

Oakland is a major metropolitan area of California opposite the bay from San Francisco. This means residents contend with regular heavy traffic and many pedestrians, including tourists and visitors on business. It’s essential for anyone injured while walking in the Oakland area to know their options for legal recourse, even if they believe they are partially to blame.

Damages in Pedestrian Accidents

An injured pedestrian can secure several kinds of compensation from a negligent driver:

  • Medical expenses, including the pedestrian’s hospital bills, surgical fees, and any costs for necessary ongoing treatments.
  • Pain and suffering. The jury hearing the case will consider testimony from expert witnesses to determine the pedestrian’s physical pain and mental suffering after an accident. Pain and suffering damages are often substantially more than the plaintiff’s medical expenses.
  • Lost income. A pedestrian accident could lead to missed time from work or permanent disability. The plaintiff can secure compensation for lost earnings in that time.
  • Property damage, including the costs of replacing or repairing any of the pedestrian’s personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident.
  • Punitive damages. In some cases, a jury may award punitive damages if a defendant’s actions were grossly negligent, intentionally harmful, or connected to illegal activity. For example, a driver who strikes a pedestrian after running a red light while evading police would face punitive damages in a civil claim from the pedestrian as well as criminal charges from the state.
  • Wrongful death. In the event a pedestrian dies due to a negligent driver, the victim’s loved ones will need to file a wrongful death claim instead of a personal injury claim to seek compensation.

Pedestrians in Oakland can avoid becoming accident statistics by using good judgment while walking and crossing roads only where it is safe and legal to do so. The court may tend to favor pedestrians in personal injury claims against negligent drivers, but situational awareness and good decisions can help prevent injuries and lawsuits in the first place. If you were hit by a negligent driver, contact our Oakland personal injury attorneys , you may be entitled to compensation.




Oakland Biking to Work Safety Tips

Many Americans use bicycles to commute for additional exercise and to save money on gas. While biking is a great activity and can help reduce traffic congestion and pollution from car exhaust, it’s important for bicyclists to be safe on the roads. Hundreds of people in Oakland and Alameda county are injured or killed every year after being hit while biking to work however there are many safety measures you can take to avoid an injury.

Consider the following tips for a safer bicycle commute to and from work.

  • Plan ahead
    Before starting your commute, you may want to do a few practice runs on the weekend. While traffic patterns are likely different, this will give you an estimate of how long it will take you to reach work. Rushing while bicycling to work will increase your chances of an accident. If you leave work during rush hour, see if you can find an alternate route that may be easier for you to navigate on a bike, instead of contending with busier main roads.
  • Make yourself visible.
    If your commute takes place in the early morning or late evening, make sure your bicycle has reflectors, so drivers can spot you more easily. Also check your area’s bicycle laws. Some areas may restrict bicycles on sidewalks while others prohibit bikes on some roads. Whatever the case may be in your area, try to ride predictably with the flow of traffic so other drivers can easily spot you.
  • Give yourself space.
    Don’t travel too closely to passing cars, and if you must use a bike lane, pay close attention to the cars parked ahead. If a driver suddenly opens his or her door and you don’t have time to stop, you could collide with the opened car door and sustain serious injury or reflexively swerve to avoid the sudden obstacle and wind up in the adjacent lane of traffic. Also remember that cars cannot stop in an instant. Any vehicle will require more distance to safely stop at higher speeds, so take this into account and never risk any sudden maneuvers that could put you at risk.
  • Wear a helmet.
    Some states require bicyclists to wear helmets while others only require riders under the age of 18 to wear them. Regardless of your area’s bicycle helmet law, wearing a helmet can significant reduce your chances of sustaining a serious or fatal head injury in an accident. Only use Department of Transportation-approved helmets.
  • Ride responsibly.
    Most states consider bicyclists on the road as drivers beholden to the same traffic laws. During your commute, ride with the flow of traffic, only turn or change lanes when it is safe to do so, and signal before making any turns to warn other drivers ahead of time.
  • Avoid bicycling under the influence.
    Alcohol and drug use can impair your ability to safely handle a bicycle. You should never attempt to operate any kind of vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Make eye contact at intersections.
    A good rule of thumb for pedestrians also applies to bicyclists: When crossing in front of stopped opposing traffic, try to make eye contact with the stopped drivers to acknowledge you are crossing and they can see you.

These are just a few ways you can stay safer while bicycling for your commutes. With the proper preparation and keen situational awareness, bicycling can be an exciting, cost-effective, and healthy alternative to driving a car or taking public transportation. If you or a family member are hurt, contact Oakland personal injury lawyers at Winer, Mckenna & Burritt will fight for you and get you the compensation you need.

Cal Student Sues, Alleges Sex Harassment by School Therapist

A California University at Berkley Student files a sexual harassment suit against a former university employee.

Attorney John Winer is representing the student and says the former school therapist allegedly videotaped Roe at least once during one of the therapy sessions he had with her and may have used it for his personal gratification.

You can read the complete sexual harassment claim here.

Daily Journal Reports: CAL Student Sues Campus Therapist

The Daily Journal reports on a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court against the Regents of the University of California and a university-employed trainee-therapist accuses him of Title IX sexual harassment, among other allegations. Attorney John Winer is defending the UC Berkley student who claims the former university employee taped her and used it for his own personal gratification. Read the full article below:

If You Are Wronged, We Will Make It Right. Schedule A Free Confidential Consultation At Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP, we empower our clients. We take on the largest law firms, toughest insurance defense lawyers and largest companies with confidence. * Bold text labels are required for submission | We practice in California only.
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