Myles M. Mattenson
5550 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Suite 200
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Telephone (818) 313-9060
Facsimile (818) 313-9260
You Observe A Traffic Collision!
Should You Help?

      Myles M. Mattenson engages in a general civil and trial practice including litigation and transactional services relating to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, franchising, business, purchase and sale of real estate, easements, landlord-tenant, partnership, corporate, insurance bad faith, personal injury, and probate legal matters.

      In providing services to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, Mr. Mattenson has represented equipment distributors, coin laundry and dry cleaning business owners confronted with landlord-tenant issues, lease negotiations, sale documentation including agreements, escrow instructions, and security instruments, as well as fraud or misrepresentation controversies between buyers and sellers of such businesses.

      Mr. Mattenson serves as an Arbitrator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is also past chair of the Law Office Management Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Mattenson received his Bachelor of Science degree (Accounting) in 1964 and his Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University School of Law in 1967.

      Bi-monthly articles by Mr. Mattenson on legal matters of interest to the business community appear in alternate months in The Journal, a leading coin laundry industry publication of the Coin Laundry Association, and Fabricare, a leading dry cleaning industry publication of the International Fabricare Institute. During the period of May 1995 through September 2002, Mr. Mattenson contributed similar articles to New Era Magazine, a coin laundry and dry cleaning industry publication which ceased publication with the September 2002 issue.

      This website contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's New Era Magazine articles which can be retrieved through a subject or chronological index. The website also contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's Journal and Fabricare articles, which can be retrieved through a chronological index.

      In addition to Mr. Mattenson's trial practice, he has successfully prosecuted and defended appeals on behalf of his clients in various areas of the law. Some of these appellate decisions are contained within his website.


Most states maintain a “good Samaritan” statute to immunize any person who, while acting in good faith and without compensation, renders emergency care at the scene of a traffic collision or other type of emergency.

A recent California case considered the plight of Alexandra who was injured in a traffic incident during the early morning of November 1, 2004.  Alexandra had gathered together at a private home with friends the previous evening, where some marijuana was apparently shared and smoked.  After others arrived, the group went to a bar about 10 p.m. where they consumed several drinks.  Everyone remained at the bar until about 1:30 a.m. on November 1.  Alexandra rode as a passenger in a vehicle driven by one of her friends.  Others rode in a second vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle in which Alexandra was a passenger lost control and crashed into a curb and light standard at about 45 miles per hour.  The force of the impact caused the front air bags to deploy and Alexandra, in the front passenger seat, was unable to exit the car. 

The companion vehicle pulled to the side of the road and everyone exited to assist.  One of the individuals, a friend, removed Alexandra from the vehicle. 

In the aftermath, Alexandra sued her friends, alleging that even though she was not in need of assistance after the accident, and had only sustained injury to her vertebrae, the act of dragging her out of the vehicle, caused permanent damage to her spinal cord and rendered her a paraplegic. 

The court noted that there were a variety of factual disputes.  The defendant who removed Alexandra from the vehicle did so because, according to her testimony, she figured the car would catch fire or “blow up.”  The friend testified at deposition that she saw smoke coming from the top of the vehicle; however, these facts were in dispute.

There was also a dispute as to how the friend removed Alexandra from the car.  The friend testified she placed one arm under Alexandra’s legs and the other behind her back to lift her out of the car.  Alexandra testified that the friend used one hand to grab her by the arm and pull her out of the car “like a rag doll.”

Emergency personnel were called to the scene.  Alexandra suffered various injuries, including injury to her vertebrae and a lacerated liver that required emergency surgery.  There was a dispute whether the accident itself caused plaintiff’s paraplegia. 

Is the friend liable for the injuries suffered by Alexandra?  Before you rush to raise your hand with what you assume is the correct answer, read further.

The issue presented to the court was whether the good Samaritan law applies to any emergency care rendered at the scene or whether it applies only to emergency medical care rendered at the scene of a medical emergency.

The court determined that although the friend may have believed that Alexandra had to be immediately removed from the court due to a risk of fire explosion, that risk was not a medical risk to her health.  Therefore, moving her from the car was therefore not emergency medical care.

In reviewing the California statute, the court thus distinguished between immunizing a good Samaritan from negligently administering medical treatment to a traffic accident victim laying on the highway and immunizing someone against negligently removing the victim from a vehicle.

As a general rule, one has no duty to come to the aid of another unless the person has created the problem or peril, or unless there is some special relationship between the parties which gives rise to a duty to act.

The duty to act, for example, is illustrated by placing a person in peril or increasing the risk of harm.  In one Los Angeles case, an officer investigating an accident directed the plaintiff to follow him into the middle of the intersection where the plaintiff was hit by another car.

Another illustration, involving an omission, rather than the affirmative act of instructing an individual to proceed into an intersection, occurred in a case where a deputy sheriff promised to warn an individual of when a prisoner, who had made threats on her life, was released.  The county was held liable when the sheriff failed to warn and the prisoner murdered the individual to whom the promise had been made.

The moral of the story?  If you undertake to come to the aid of another, be careful to exercise due care in all that you do to help!


[This column is intended to provide general information only  and
is  not intended to provide specific legal advice; if you have  a
specific  question  regarding the  law,  you  should  contact  an
attorney  of your choice.  Suggestions for topics to be discussed
in this column are welcome.]

Reprinted from Fabricare
Myles M. Mattenson © 2007