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THEME PARKS FACE INCREASED LIABILITY A state appeal court put amusement parks in the hot seat Monday by declaring their rides subject to the same common carrier liability imposed on city buses or rail lines. “This is the first time California has definitively stated that common carrier liability applies to amusement rides,” prevailing lawyer Barry Novack said. Amusement parks will now be subject to providing the “highest degree of care” for ride patrons, the Beverly Hills solo practitioner said, rather than the lesser standard of ordinary negligence. Novack represented the estate of Cristina Moreno, a young Spanish woman who died in 2000 two months after suffering a serious brain injury at Disneyland’s Indiana Jones attraction. The trial court dismissed the suit, but Los Angeles’ Second District Court of Appeal held that Disney is liable under Civil Code � 2168, the state’s common carrier statute. “The fact Disney may impose certain height, weight or other restrictions for its rides does not mean it is not a common carrier,” Justice Candace Cooper wrote. Justices Laurence Rubin and Paul Boland concurred. Richard Derevan, a partner in L.A.’s Snell & Wilmer who represented Disney, referred calls to company spokesman John Spelich. He could not be reached by press time. The case is Gomez v. Superior Court (The Walt Disney Co.), B163651. The full text of the opinion will appear in Wednesday’s California Daily Opinion Service. — Mike McKee DA GETS CONTINUANCE IN POLICE CHIEF CASE A lawyer for San Francisco’s police chief won’t get District Attorney Terence Hallinan on the witness stand this month, thanks to a continuance that a superior court judge granted prosecutors Monday. San Francisco solo Philip Ryan last week subpoenaed the DA and a handful of his staff to a hearing that was scheduled for today to testify about prosecutors’ actions surrounding the chief’s indictment. Ryan’s client, Police Chief Earl Sanders, was indicted in February along with six other police brass for allegedly trying to impede an investigation into a November street brawl between three off-duty police officers and two civilians. The charges against the seven were later dismissed by the DA and Superior Court Judge Kay Tsenin. Sanders wants the court to declare him “factually innocent.” On Monday, Tsenin granted prosecutors a continuance until Aug. 6, when she may set a date for a later evidentiary hearing. Though the continuance vacates the subpoenas that had been served on the DA’s office for today’s hearing, Ryan said he intends to serve new ones. In opposing the continuance, Ryan told the judge a delay would be unfair to Sanders, because his reputation was destroyed by the indictment and surrounding scandal. Of the chief’s reputation, Tsenin responded: “It can get repaired tomorrow, it can get repaired next month, whatever.” — Pam Smith KIESEL, BOUCHER TO FIGHT DAVIS RECALL A politically active plaintiffs firm has been called in by allies of Gov. Gray Davis to challenge the legitimacy of recall signatures. Lawyers with Kiesel, Boucher & Larson of Beverly Hills — working on a pro bono basis with Taxpayers Against the Governor’s Recall — plan to file suit today in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The suit will allege widespread illegalities in the signature collecting, including the use of signature gatherers who were not California residents and not registered to vote in the state. Kiesel, Boucher & Larson is very active in state politics. It represents Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in litigation over the state energy crisis and filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state Senate when the securities industry sued the Judicial Council over new ethical rules for arbitrators. In 2001-02, the firm gave more than $100,000 in political contributions. Name partner Raymond Boucher is also vice president of Consumer Attorneys of California, which recently pledged to raise $250,000 to help Davis remain governor. According to the firm, at least two signature circulators were convicted felons. The suit is against Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, a Democrat, and the county clerks in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties and will name several individual state residents as plaintiffs and will seek class action status on behalf of California voters and taxpayers. It will seek an injunction asking Shelley to give instructions to county clerks to ensure that the people circulating petitions were doing so legally. The plaintiffs also will seek access to the names of the petition circulators. — Staff and wire reports TEST CASES TO DECIDE DAMAGES IN IPO SUITS NEW YORK — A tentative outline for trying test cases in the litigation over the manipulation of initial public offerings during the Internet boom was agreed to Friday. Judge Shira Scheindlin of the Southern District of New York told lawyers for 55 securities firms and investors to have 10 to 20 “focus cases” selected by Jan. 5. Investors filed the suits claiming injury from Wall Street conflicts of interest and the so-called laddering of initial offerings. The focus cases will be briefed and argued as a precursor to a possible settlement of sweeping allegations concerning initial public stock offerings for 309 companies between January 1998 and December 2000. Investors allege that the firms committed securities fraud in the offerings, in part by having pre-arranged deals with valued customers to buy the new stock at increasingly higher prices, or to purchase other issues with the same understanding, practices known as “laddering.” “We’ll be picking 10 or 20 cases that are going to be representative of defendants’ conduct,” said plaintiffs’ liaison counsel Melvyn Weiss, of Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes & Lerach. “The objective of everybody is to try to make these cases understandable, so we can go to the clients and give them an idea of what’s involved and what the exposure is.” — The New York Law Journal

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