Articles Posted in Assault and Battery

Serious injuries often result from accidents or unintentional harm in Valley Center and throughout Southern California, but they can also be caused by intentional acts. While many people assume personal injury lawsuits are only possible after motor vehicle crashes, slips and falls, and related types of injuries caused by another party’s negligence, it is essential to know that civil lawsuits can also allow someone who has been injured by an intentional act of violence to seek compensation. In some cases, the liable party (or parties) will include the perpetrator of the act of violence, but it is also possible that other individuals or entities can be held liable for negligence related to the assault. 

In particular, victims of sexual assault in California can be eligible to seek financial compensation through a civil lawsuit, and a relatively new law in the state gives them significantly more time to do so.

Criminal Versus Civil Cases After a Sexual Assault

A Mt. Carmel High School teacher, Stacy Michelle Walker, has been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing a student in a relationship that spanned over two years. San Diego police reported that the assault occurred between 2017 and 2019. Walker, aged 40, turned herself in and was booked into custody with bail set at over $400,000. She faces 17 felony counts, all related to sex crimes, including luring a minor1.

The teacher allegedly began having sexually charged conversations with the female student when she was 15 years old, which escalated to sharing explicit photos, videos, and text messages. The incidents reportedly continued even after the victim turned 18. The investigation is ongoing, and the alleged incidents occurred at varying locations, not exclusively on campus1.

The student came forward to San Diego police on July 31, prompting the sex crimes unit to initiate an investigation. The Poway Unified School District was notified of the allegations and investigation in August, leading to Walker being placed on leave and an internal inquiry launched by the district. Mt. Carmel Principal Yael Bozzay assured parents that the school takes the situation seriously and is fully cooperating with law enforcement1.

ChurchAbuse-300x283Sexual assault within religious institutions such as churches and synagogues, is a sad reality that can lead survivors with profound trauma with lifelong implications. In San Diego cases where individuals have experienced such abuse within a church setting, they can pursue civil claims against not only the perpetrator of the assault, but also the church itself for its failure to prevent or address the abuse adequately.

Suing church leaders for the sexual assault of congregants is crucial for several intertwined public policy reasons that collectively support justice, accountability, deterrence, institutional reform, and increased public awareness. Legal action enables victims to seek redress and acknowledgment of the harm they have endured, providing a formal avenue for confrontation and compensation for emotional, physical, and financial damages. Lawsuits place responsibility squarely on the shoulders of those in power, challenging the dynamics that often protect perpetrators within religious institutions and sending a clear message that no individual, regardless of their religious or social standing, is above the law.

Litigation acts as a deterrent to future misconduct by highlighting the legal consequences, financial liabilities, and public scrutiny that can arise from such cases. This can motivate religious organizations to enforce stricter safeguards against abuse. Through the discovery process and public airing of grievances, systemic issues within these organizations that enable abuse can be brought to light, often leading to calls for or direct implementation of policy changes to prevent future abuses. Moreover, legal cases against church leaders raise awareness about the issue, breaking down stigma and encouraging other victims to come forward, challenging societal norms that may otherwise silence discussion about sexual abuse in religious contexts.

A husband is on trial for the attempted murder of his wife. According to an article in UT San Diego, court proceedings began in El Cajon Superior Court on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Events leading to this trial transpired on September 23, 2010, when Larry Hoagland’s then-wife, Connie, started the engine in her truck, triggering an explosion. Hoagland had planted a pipe bomb in her truck. He faces three charges related to using an explosive or destructive device in addition to the premeditated murder charge. Remarkably, Connie survived the blast, but she suffered serious injuries. Our San Diego persona injury lawyer recognizes that aside from the criminal charges, Hoagland also potentially faces a civil claim against him stemming from the severe injuries Connie sustained from the horrific incident.

The trial started with Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals explaining Hoagland’s motive for trying to kill his then-wife. Hoagland plotted to kill her because he was planning on leaving her to be with his mistress in Pennsylvania. Two weeks prior to the explosion, a pipe bomb was found in the middle of the street, coincidentally about a quarter mile from the Hoagland home. The device was programmed to diffuse remotely by use of a cell phone. Michels introduced evidence that connected Hoagland to the bomb. Hoagland’s wallet contained two pieces of paper that had phone numbers for the prepaid cell phones connected with the bomb written on them.

Furthermore, Hoagland’s computer activity at work reveals YouTube searches on bomb-making. These searches were conducted just weeks before the incident. Michels has also introduced evidence showing that just a few days before the bombing, Hoagland had purchased a part for the bomb at an electronics store. With this crucial evidence linking Hoagland to the bombing, it will be difficult for Thomas Palmer, Hoagland’s lawyer, to convince the jury of Hoagland’s innocence. However, Palmer has made an attempt, although weak, to counter-argue Michels’ assertion of Hoagland’s direct involvement in the incident. The crux of Palmer’s argument is that there are too many inconsistencies in the case, making it unjustifiable to place the guilt on Hoagland. One such inconsistency that Palmer asserts is that the two bombs that Hoagland is accused of building are different. With the weight of the prosecution’s evidence, it is unlikely that Palmer will sway the jurors to support Hoagland.

Every year, millions of shoppers get out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to trek out to their local malls and shopping centers in hopes of being able to get some great deals on Christmas presents for their loved ones. The best sales are typically offered at the earliest part of the day, with some even starting Thanksgiving night around 10 or 11 o’clock, and the supplies are limited. The idea is, of course, to get lots of shoppers out to get the good deals and then to hopefully keep them there long enough to get them to buy more. shopping%20addiction.jpg.

Unfortunately, the items that are offered up for what are sometimes ridiculously low prices are often in such limited supply that many of the customers that make the trip out to get them end up leaving empty-handed. In some cases, customers become so desperate to be one of the lucky few to take advantage of these deals that they actually become violent. Our San Diego injury lawyers know that every Black Friday comes with news of shoppers being injured across the country in various ways, the most common of which is trampling by over-eager customers rushing to get to the shelves before they are cleared.

This year, a female shopper made the news after unloading a can of pepper spray on her fellow shoppers at a crowded Los Angeles Wal-Mart. Shoppers were permitted to enter the store around 10 p.m., but some merchandise was still inaccessible at that time. When the covers over an electronics display were lifted to allow customers to access them, the woman fired pepper spray at the other shoppers in what was presumably an attempt to gain some sort of tactical advantage and get to the display before anyone else could. Twenty people were injured as a result of the incident, with some of them suffering reactions to the pepper spray and others being caught up and jostled in the crowd. The woman has not yet been identified.

Every August the National Football League’s pre-season activities begin and football fans across the United States come pouring back into stadiums to watch their favorite teams play. Dedicated fans will tell you that there is something different in the air during football season, and for many, it is their favorite time of the year. fans.jpg

Unfortunately, as California assault and battery attorneys know all too well, a few fans can really take their love for their favorite teams a little too seriously, especially at game time. Sometimes, the heckling and teasing that is part of nearly every live football game, from high school to the professional level, can get out of hand. Combine that overzealous support with a tailgate party where the beer is flowing freely, and you may have a very dangerous situation on your hands.

This is precisely what happened a couple weeks ago to three football fans who attended a pre-season exhibition game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. KTLA News recently reported on how, in three apparently unrelated incidents, two fans were shot in the stadium parking lot, and one fan was severely beaten in a stadium bathroom. Although details are not yet entirely clear, it appears that the reasons for these attacks were related to differences in which teams the fans and their attackers were supporting. Naturally, the mayors of San Francisco and Oakland quickly condemned these attacks, and stadium security will likely be stepped up in an effort to prevent similar incidents in the future. Public condemnation and better security in the future, however, are of little use to the three victims who were viciously attacked in a place where they should have been able to feel safe.

The owners of the two pit bulls who attacked and maimed 75-year-old Emako Mendoza have been arrested. The San Diego County Department of Animal Services have arrested the Alba and Carla Cornelio in connection with the attack, but it’s not clear what crimes they will be charged with. The two women were booked into Las Colinas Detention Center. Bail was set at $900,000 for the daughter, Carla Cornelio, and according to news accounts, the mother, Alba, was “not eligible for bail.” The authorities clearly view these crimes as serious with such a high bail. Probably because the two dogs that attacked Ms. Mendoza were responsible for another attack on a person last Christmas.

Jail%20001l.jpgThis was without a doubt one of the most egregious dog attacks in San Diego history. Ms. Mendoza suffered near-fatal bites, and treatment for her injuries had included the amputation of her leg. Though the attack was two weeks ago, she remains in critical condition at Scripps Mercy Hospital.

The dogs that attacked Ms. Mendoza have both been euthanized, but that is of little solace to Ms. Mendoza’s husband, who has stated that he intends to bring a civil action against the dog’s owners. “I hope these people have plenty of money because I am going to sue them for plenty,” he said. But the reality is these folks probably don’t have the money or the insurance to adequately cover the damages suffered by this family.

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Misaalefua.jpg There is a very interesting legal story developing in Oceanside. Early on Christmas morning, 44-year-old Jimmy Misaalefua was gunned down in the cul-d-sac where he lived by his neighbor Robert Pulley. According to news accounts, Misaalefua was beloved in his community, a former Marine and college football player, who was an active volunteer in the Oceanside community. He left behind a wife and two children, a seven-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, whose birthday was celebrated a week before his father’s death. A real tragedy.

The events leading up to Misaalefua death raise all kinds of legal questions about police conduct, and whether this tragedy could have been avoided.

According the North County Times, shortly before the shooting, fire fighters had been called to Pulley’s house in response to a 911 call where it had been reported that Pulley and assaulted his 20-year-old son. Apparently Pulley was acting belligerent, and it took several fire fighters to restrain him, which prompted a call to the Oceanside Police Department. When police officers arrived, they determined that this was nothing more than a domestic dispute, and no arrests were made. Police drove away at 2:40 a.m.


The high-profile case involving the shooting death of a male dancer by San Diego Harbor Police on a charted boat has been settled. The parents of Steven Hirschfield have agreed to a sum of $2.5 million to settle the wrongful death case they brought against the Port of San Diego.

Steven Hirschfield was hired to be a dancer aboard the 222-foot cruise ship Inspiration which was chartered as part of the Gay Pride weekend in San Diego. While the facts are a bit sketchy, Hirschfield jumped into the waters of San Diego Bay at about 11 pm during the evening of July 19, 2008. Two Harbor Police officers were dispatched to pull him out of the water, when Hirschfield got into an altercation with the officers. According to testimony from the officers, Hirschfield tried to grab one of the officer’s guns, at which point the second officer shot Hirschfield.

Hirschfield’s parents Alan and Nicole Hirschfield disputed this account, noting that Hirschfield was shot in the back. That was the basis for their civil rights lawsuit against the officers and the Port.

A Lakeside residential care facility is the subject of an investigation by the California Department of Social Services for safety violations. The facility, Expanding Horizons, is the same home where a convicted sex offender was living when he wandered away from the home and sexually assaulted two boys. Neighbors of the facility had no idea that a convicted sex offender was living in their midst.

“Thankfully the victims were not dragged off into the bushes like other stories,” neighbor Kent Kopperud told KFMB. “But it’s still a horrible situation, and it should have never happened.”

The facility could be held liable for the injuries suffered by the boys who were assaulted.

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