News & Media

Man ruled insane in Berkeley killing that exposed system failure

June 2, 2015 | Henry K. Lee

The wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Berkeley, CA was resolved after the police agreed to make improvements in their responses to calls for help, said the Cukor family Attorney, R. Lewis Van Blois. The killer of Peter Cukor was ruled insane and committed to a State mental hospital on May 29, 2015 for 33 years to life. For more information about the ruling and settlement see the first page headlines and article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Camp May Have Ignored Safety Warnings Years Before a Deadly Accident

June 2, 2015 | Vicky Nguyen, Liza Meak and Jeremy Carroll

The lawsuit for the wrongful death of an intelligent and talented 21 year old woman was recently settled out of Court, said the family attorney, R. Lewis Van Blois. Annaїs Rittenberg was killed instantly when an 80 foot tall 300 year old black oak tree fell on July 3, 2013 at Camp Tawonga, a summer camp near Yosemite. Legal documents obtained from the case by NBC Bay Area News were reported in a story that first aired May 11, 2015.

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Family of truck driver who died in fiery Pittsburg crash files lawsuit

April 21, 2015 | Katrina Cameron

A lawsuit against the owners of the big rig that crashed and exploded on March 16 in Pittsburg was filed Wednesday in Solano County. Oakland personal injury attorney, R. Lewis Van Blois, is representing the minor child of the truck driver who died in the fiery crash. "Apparently the brakes and other mechanical systems failed as the truck came down Kirker Pass Rd." The big rig truck then crashed into a restaurant and exploded.

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Farm Deaths

July 17, 2014 | Modern Farmer

Agriculture jobs are the most dangerous in the world. R. Lewis Van Blois, a California Personal Injury Lawyer, has represented the estates of many deceased or severely injured ag workers.

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Lawsuit Filed in Death of Camp Counselor

August 7, 2013 | San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate by Bob Egelko

The parents of Annais Rittenberg, a 21 year old camp counselor who was killed by a falling tree in a Sierra Foothills campground last month, filed suit blaming their daughter's death on slipshod inspections by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s tree management contractors and arborists. Annais was crushed to death when an 80 foot oak tree collapsed onto benches where she and other counselors were sitting at Camp Tawonga in Tuolumne County, near Yosemite National Park. The Rittenbergs' lawyer, R. Lewis Van Blois of Oakland said, "After an inspection, our experts said the tree was ready to fall at anytime."

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Family of Murdered Berkeley Man Wrongful Death Lawsuit

November 15, 2012 | CBS San Francisco

The wife and two sons of a 67 year old man who was killed outside his home in the Berkeley Hills in February filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City Thursday, alleging that it was negligent in the way it handled the situation. R. Lewis Van Blois, the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the Cukors, said Thursday that the Police department had "plenty of officers" on duty that night but the department's priority was to have them monitor Occupy Wall Street protesters who were marching from Oakland to Berkeley. Van Blois said the Police department has the right not to send an officer to a potential emergency situation but in Cukor's situation they should have told him they weren't sending someone immediately but if the threat continued he should call them back.

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Family of Murder Victim Cukor Files Suit Against Berkeley

November 15, 2012 | Frances Dinkelspiel/ Berkleyside News

R. Lewis Van Blois, the Cukor family attorney, charged in the lawsuit that the city and police acted grossly negligent in their handling of Cukor murder. "Peter Cukor had called the Berkeley Police Department on their emergency number for help to request a police officer be sent to their home right away because the intruder was attempting to get inside the Cukor home and was acting strangely," Van Blois said. "The police dispatcher promised to get someone to their home soon and the Cukors relied on this representation. In fact, the Berkeley Police Dispatcher never intended nor requested a police officer respond and when a police officer called to say he could respond to the call, he was told not to go."

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Ex-Pet Store Worker gets $1.1 Million

August 4, 2011 | Chris De Benedetti / Oakland Tribune

Pet Store worker gets $1.1 million dollars when injured while assisting a Fremont Police Officer during a burglary investigation. The man's attorney, Lewis Van Blois, said his client was taking a ladder onto the roof when he fell through a skylight to the pavement below.

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$1M-plus for Man Hurt Helping Fremont Cop

August 2, 2011 | Henry K. Lee, SF Chronicle

An employee of a Fremont pet store who suffered brain damage in a fall after a police officer allegedly sent him up to the roof to help in a burglary investigation will receive more than $1 million to settle his lawsuit against the city and the store's landlord, said his attorney, R. Lewis Van Blois of Oakland. "Police always say that protection of citizens is their core responsibility, and in this instance they forgot or overlooked or didn't consider the safety of their citizens," Van Blois said. "They failed to consider the risks and dangers of employing or bringing in a citizen to do a dangerous task, which is really their job."

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Judge Withdraws Schiro's Plea Deal, Stiffer Sentence Expected

November 15, 2010 | Brian Babcock/ Mercury News

Judge Navarro did not say in court what had changed his mind, but the victims' lawyer, R. Lewis Van Blois believes he knows. "The Judge's mind was likely changed by reviewing the 60-plus page report from the county probation department that outlined Schiro's history of disregard for the law and his lack of remorse." Van Blois said.

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Family of Trucker Killed on S-curve Files Suit

October 27, 2010 | Jill Tucker / SF Chronicle

The family of a 56 year old trucker killed when his big rig toppled over the side of the Bay Bridge has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against CalTrans and several other companies. "It was clear that the public was unaware of how sharp those curves were and how drastically you had to reduce your speed until after the accident," said the family's attorney Lewis Van Blois. "What this means in legal terms is that they crated a trap... a concealed trap that surprised drivers and didn't give them the opportunity to make it through the curve."

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Hayward Trucker's Family Sues Caltrans over Bay Bridge S-curve

October 26, 2010 | Kristin Bender/ Oakland Tribune

The family of a man who died after his truck flipped over a Bay Bridge wall and plunged onto Yerba Buena Island filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the state and civil engineers who designed and warned about the S-curve where the accident happened. At least 43 accidents had occurred at the curve from the time it opened Sept.8, 2009, until the day Fakhar was killed, said Oakland attorney Lew Van Blois, who filed the suit on behalf of Fakhar's widow and two adult sons.

Family of Trucker Sues Caltrans Over S-curve

October 25, 2010 | ABC local News

Driver's have complained it's dangerous, and now Caltrans will have to defend its design of a section of the Bay Bridge called the "S-curve. Lewis Van Blois filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of a driver who plunged to his death off the bridge. It's clear that they realized that their warnings were inadequate," says Van Blois.

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Another Hearing, but still no pleas entered by Schiro in hit-and-run

May 30, 2010 | Brian Babcock /San Jose Mercury News

Oakland Attorney R. Lewis Van Blois represents Ashley Jackson who was seriously injured by hit and run driver Robert Schiro while riding her bicycle in the bike lane of Highway 9. "We just want people to know that, in the civil and criminal cases, we are going to make him pay," the couple's attorney, R. Lewis Van Blois, said last month outside the Santa Clara Hall of Justice in San Jose. "We want to get justice on both ends."

Oakland Residents Demand City Fix Dangerous and Deadly Curve

May 27, 2010 | KTVU News

"In the last five years there have been well over 10 accidents right here at this curve," said attorney Lewis Van Blois. Van Blois represents the family of 21 year old college student, Cesar Sopelario, who was killed while attempting to navigate the sharp curve.

Oakland Lawsuit Settled, But Raises Questions About Road's Safety

May 26, 2010 | Kelly Rayburn, Oakland Tribune

Merritt College student, Cesar Sopelario, was killed while attempting to navigate a sharp curve on Redwood Road (35th Avenue). Lewis Van Blois, the Oakland attorney representing the family achieved a large settlement for the family but said it does not solve the underlying problems with the street's safety that include "reverse banking" of the deadly curve.

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CHP Blitz Slowing On Bay Bridge S-Curve

May 7, 2010 | John Upton, San Francisco Examiner

Rumble strips, additional signage, reflective striping, protective fencing to prevent vehicles going over the guardrail and police enforcement have prevented any major accidents on the Bay Bridge after the fatal crash. Attorney Lewis Van Blois filed a claim alleging the roadway's condition at the time of the trucker's death was dangerous.

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Cyclist's Supporters Show Up for Court

May 7, 2010 | By Patty Fisher / Mercury News

Jackson and Nelson were hit by a BMW while riding in a bike lane on Highway 9 in Saratoga on April 19, 2009. The car drove off, but Nelson got a look at it and the police impounded damaged Schiro's car within a few weeks. But Schiro denied being behind the wheel that day, and no charges were filed against him until last month. "We let law enforcement do its job," said her attorney Lewis Van Blois. "Now we are looking for fair compensation and justice."

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Death-plunge Trucker's Family Files Claim

April 29, 2010 | Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle

R. Lewis Van Blois, the attorney for the family of a 56 year old truck driver who plummeted from the upper deck of the Bay Bridge in November filed a claim against Caltrans, saying there weren't adequate warning signs alerting drivers to the bridge's new S-curve. "They (Caltrans) failed miserably to warn drivers in advance that they were coming into the S-curve," Van Blois said. He said the design was negligent.

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Woman Stabbed at DMV Settles Civil Suit

February 6, 2010 | Stockton Record

A woman who was stabbed at the American Street branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Stockton has settled her civil suit against the state office's contracted security company said her Oakland attorney, R. Lewis Van Blois. "The security company should have never allowed the attacker into the DMV." said Van Blois.

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It's A Tragedy Waiting To Happen

July 4, 2005 | Matt O'Brien, Oakland Tribune

Oakland Lawyer Lewis Van Blois has been suing railroad companies since the late 1960's on behalf of children in the Bay Area who wander onto dangerous tracks where there are no fences and the injuries are catastrophic. The railroads believe they are untouchable so there is little that is done to prevent train accidents.

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They Call It "Blood Alley"

July 3, 2005 | The Oakland Tribune/ Daily Review staff

The railroad tracks between Oakland and Fremont in California are known as "BLOOD ALLEY" because of the excessive number of deaths that occur on the tracks. Oakland personal injury lawyer, Lewis Van Blois, stated that "suing the large corporations remains a daunting task and are so expensive that there are not many people who will take the cases."

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Last Suit Settled Over Deadly Tracy Intersection

March 18, 2005 | Rick Brewer The Stockton Record

Oakland attorney Lewis Van Blois settled the last of the three catastrophic accidents occurring at the intersection of 11th Street and Lammers Road in Tracy. The three separate accidents have resulted in settlement for Van Blois' clients totaling $8,470,000.

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Ex-Priest, Diocese Agree to Settlement

November 26, 2003 | Brian Anderson / Contra Costa Times

A former Priest and the Catholic Diocese of Oakland have agreed to pay $17 million to a man who was sexually abused by the Priest when he was 15 years old. R. Lewis Van Blois, the Oakland lawyer who represented the man said the case settled just before the former Bishop of the Diocese took the witness stand.

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Former Priest, Diocese Settle Abuse Suit

November 25, 2003 | Oakland Tribune

A former Fremont priest agreed to pay $16 million to the victim and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland agreed to pay $1 million, said attorney R. Lewis Van Blois, who represents victim Mark Bogdanowicz. "It's been extremely difficult for himself and his family," Van Blois said. "He's been courageous through-out the ordeal."

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Firm to Pay $900,000 for Fatal Fire

October 25, 1996 | Ann Griffith / Contra Costa Times

A Martinez construction firm will pay $900,000 as a result of a 1995 industrial accident. A fire injured a worker, represented by Oakland attorney Lewis Van Blois. The fire was fed by flammable oxygen from a leaking pipe. Lawyers had begun their arguments when the settlement was reached.

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Man Put Into a Coma by Heater Settles Suit

May 6, 1993 | Ben Chamy/ The Oakland Tribune

The Oakland man put into a coma because of exposure to a faulty apartment heater spewing carbon monoxide will settle a lawsuit against the manufacturer for over $4.55 million dollars. "It is an excellent result," said Lewis Van Blois, the man's attorney. "Now this family has the funds to help get qualified care to help them."

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First Injury Claims Filed With State

October 24, 1989 | Associated Press

Sacramento California,. The first of an expected long line of damage claims against the state from the October 17 earthquake were filed Tuesday by two workers injured in the collapse of the Cypress Elevated Freeway on I-880 in Oakland, their lawyer said. The lawyer, R. Lewis Van Blois, cited published reports of "statements made by CalTrans engineers and former engineers, references to interoffice memos, and the 1982 task force study that stated in essence that the elevated structure would receive extensive damage in an earthquake."

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City pays paralyzed teen $3.3 million

April 14, 1988 | Ken Leiser/ Hayward Daily Review

The City of Fremont agrees to pay $3.33 million to a 14 year old boy paralyzed in auto accident. The payment to the boy, represented by R. Lewis Van Blois, was one of the largest sums ever paid for a tort claim in the City's history.

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Oakland to Pay $3.4 million to Boy Disabled in Auto Accident

May 30, 1985 | Ramon Coronado / Oakland Tribune

The City of Oakland to pay $3.4 million to a boy in an auto accident. His lawyer, R. Lewis Van Blois said he was prepared to prove in a trial that the City was negligent in not having a traffic signal at the intersection.

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Canyon Victim Son of Cuban Immigrants

March 21, 1985 | Dan Stephens / San Luis Obispo Telegram Tribune

The family of a Canyon victim shot in a remote campground will receive a settlement for his death according to attorney R. Lewis Van Blois

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BART Settles Last Tube Fire Lawsuit

September 14, 1984 | Del Lane/ Oakland Tribune

Oakland firemen injured in the BART transbay tube fire will receive $800,000 according to R. Lewis Van Blois, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

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Injured Worker Awarded $6 Million

November 24, 1983 | Helaine Lasky / Hayward Daily Review

Injured Worker awarded $6 million for injuries when he fell four stories while doing plastering work according to his attorney, Lewis Van Blois, who claimed the builders of the condominium project were negligent and careless by failing to provide adequate safety protection.

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Diet Doctor to Pay Patient's Survivors

November 9, 1983 | Karen Franklin/ Hayward Daily Review

Diet Doctor who's clinics were shut down has agreed to pay a confidential settlement to the family of an obese woman who died of an acute heart attack as a result of her stringent diet according to her family's attorney, R. Lewis Van Blois of Oakland.

The $1 Million Crash Verdict Sets Legal Precedent

January 16, 1983 | Karen Franklin/ Hayward Daily Review/ San Francisco Examiner

The $1 million awarded by a Hayward jury sets legal precedent by extending the responsibility of parents for the actions of their adult children according to R. Lewis Van Blois the Oakland trial attorney

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U.S., State Agree to Pay Victim of Accident

January 22, 1981 | Marty Schneider/ Hayward Daily Review

The U.S. and State agree to pay $1.2 million to a Hayward man injured when a National Guardsman ran a stop sign. Eat Bay attorney Lewis Van Blois reached the settlement at trial during jury selection

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