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Brain damage, bird feces case improperly dismissed: Appeals court


A California appellate court has reversed a trial judge’s decision granting defense summary judgment in the case of a worker who suffered a permanent brain injury reportedly caused by a fungal infection tied to bird feces found at the site of a construction project.

The Court of Appeals of California on Tuesday determined a trial court erred in ruling for the defendants in a lawsuit by Dale Beebe, who worked as an electrical foreman for Braaten Electric Inc., which was hired by Potential Design Inc. as a subcontractor on two construction projects at a facility owned by Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds LLC.

Mr. Beebe sued after being diagnosed with histoplasmosis, a fungal infection that spread to his brain and caused permanent impairments.

The injury was tied to the accumulation of bird feces created by flocks of migrating swallows that nested over a several-year period under the roof of a structure at the nut facility.

Mr. Beebe, who worked and lived on site, claimed that the facility didn’t do enough to protect against dangers created by feces accumulation.  

During litigation, Mr. Beebe attempted to provide declarations from infectious disease experts concerning the nature of the injury, but a trial judge excluded the declarations as “speculative,” and instead granted summary judgment to the defendants.

In its ruling, the appeals court reversed the trial judge’s decision, determining that the trial court had no basis for excluding the experts’ declarations and that summary judgment for the defendants was not warranted at this stage of the litigation.