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Rice v. Superior Court

Case Conclusion Date: 09.23.1982

Practice Area: Personal injury

Outcome: Favorable decision by the Court of Appeal

Description: This case involved an 80-year-old lady was was rendered brain-damaged when she was struck by a truck driven by a independent contractor deliverying newspapers for the L.A. Times. After an adverse ruling at the trial court denying Mrs. Rice preference in trial setting due to her age, Mr. Heller petitioned the Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal ruled in her favor. More details about the case are set forth below: This case upheld the right of an elderly brain-injured woman to preference in getting her case set for trial pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 36(a). This case the "law of the land" in California for many years. The Court of Appeal acknowledged Mr. Heller's "innovative" representation of Mrs. Rice, a brain-damaged plaintiff: The Court stated, in pertinent part: "While an abuse of discretion in refusing a continuance may result in an inconvenient trial date, an abuse of discretion in denying trial preference to a litigant coming within the qualifications of subdivision (a) might forever deprive that litigant of the very substantive rights the statute is intended to protect. In the present case, the trial court's denial of preference to plaintiff because of the innovative litigation tactic of her counsel even now increases the risk plaintiff might lose the rights subdivision (a) is intended to protect." For more information about the case, visit

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