Minick v. City of PetalumaAnnotate this Case
Riding in a non-competitive charity bicycling event, Minick fell while descending a hill in Petaluma. Erwin, riding behind Minick, saw him lose control of his bicycle after hitting a large pothole. Minick exhausted his administrative remedies, and then, represented by Watson, brought suit under Government Code section 835. The city moved for summary judgment, arguing that Minick, who had no recollection of the accident, had no proof of any dangerous condition on public property. Watson opposed the motion, attaching grainy, low-resolution black-and-white photographs of the alleged site, a copy of a police report containing Erwin's statement that he saw a pothole where Minick fell; and an engineer's expert declaration that a defect in the street caused the fall. The court issued a tentative ruling denying the motion. At the hearing, Watson appeared, but showed signs of physical distress and was taken to a hospital by ambulance. The day before a continued hearing, the court again tentatively denied the motion. After hearing arguments, the court granted the motion, referring to Watson’s arguments as “ludicrous.” The court later granted relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b), accepting Watson’s explanation that he had been suffering from a serious illness for which he was under heavy medication. The court of appeal affirmed., When a court finds a wholesale disintegration of the attorney’s professional capacity because of a medical crisis, the availability of relief for excusable neglect is within the court’s sound discretion.