Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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Plaintiff and cross-defendant IIG Wireless, Inc. (IIG) obtained a judgment of $401,860 against defendant and cross-complainant John Yi. IIG also sued Lauren Kim, Yi’s fiancee, who moved for and was granted a nonsuit during trial. Yi obtained a judgment on his cross-complaint for $122,000, resulting in a final judgment of $279,860 in IIG’s favor. Yi appealed the judgment and the court’s denial of his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV). Before IIG’s official formation, Yi had been doing business with MetroPCS and was the owner of several out-of-state dealers. Yi, Jimmy Hu, and Seung Lee founded IIG to become another dealer for MetroPCS with stores in southern California. Between June 2007, when IIG was formed, and the end of 2008, the company opened 30 stores. Yi signed personal guarantees with MetroPCS for product to sell, as well as the leases for the retail locations, while Hu and Lee did not. IIG claims Yi committed numerous other misdeeds during his time as CEO, including directing IIG to issue payments of $48,000 to Kim, who was his girlfriend at the time. In sum, Yi argued there was no substantial evidence to support the verdict, the court made numerous errors with respect to the introduction of evidence and its conduct of the trial, and the damage award of $122,000 on his crosscomplaint was inadequate. IIG argued there was substantial evidence to support the verdict, the JNOV was properly denied, and the damage award on the cross-complaint should be reduced. In its cross-appeal, IIG argued the trial court should not have granted nonsuit as to Kim. Further, IIG contended the trial court erred by denying its motion to amend the complaint and to admit certain expert testimony. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded neither the appeal nor the cross-appeal had any merit, and therefore affirmed the judgment in its entirety. View "IIG Wireless v. Yi" on Justia Law

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Laine Hedwall filed a cross-complaint in the underlying action against CLP, Arcis, and PCMV, alleging claims for breach of contract, fraud, declaratory relief, and related causes of action. The trial court sustained CLP's demurrer to the cross-complaint with leave to amend, Hedwall filed a first amended cross-complaint (FACC), CLP then demurred to all but one of the claims against it in the FACC; and, while CLP's demurrer to the FACC was pending, Hedwall then filed a second amended cross-complaint (SACC). The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's decision to cancel the filing of the SACC on its own motion, sustain CLP's demurrer to the FACC without leave to amend, and grant of judgment on the pleadings in CLP's favor on Hedwall's sole remaining claim against CLP. The court also affirmed the trial court's denial of Hedwall's request for an order staying the proceedings relating to Arcis and PCMV. View "Hedwall v. PCMV, LLC" on Justia Law

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Shapira sued his former employer, Lifetech, for breach of an employment contract. The parties presented their evidence at a bench trial and rested. Before Shapira submitted his closing argument brief, he requested that the court dismiss the case under Code of Civil Procedure, section 581(e), which provides, “After the actual commencement of trial, the court shall dismiss the complaint . . . with prejudice, if the plaintiff requests a dismissal.” The court denied Shapira’s request. After the parties filed their closing argument briefs, the court entered a judgment in Lifetech’s favor, held that Lifetech was the prevailing party under Civil Code section 1717, and awarded Lifetech costs and $137,000 in attorney fees. Shapira appealed the attorney fees award. The court of appeal reversed. The court should have dismissed the case under section 581(e), so the award of attorney fees was erroneous under Civil Code section 1717(b)(2), which states, “Where an action has been voluntarily dismissed or dismissed pursuant to a settlement of the case, there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of this section.” Section 581(e) provides a right to dismiss a case before the completion of trial. View "Shapira v. Lifetech Resources" on Justia Law

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The Castillos were employed and paid by GCA, a temporary staffing company, to perform work on-site at Glenair. Glenair was authorized to and did record, review, and report the Castillos’ time records to GCA so that the Castillos could be paid. In a wage and hours putative class action, the Castillos characterized GCA and Glenair as joint employers. While their case was pending, a separate class action brought against, among others, GCA resulted in a final, court-approved settlement agreement, “Gomez,” which contains a broad release barring settlement class members from asserting wage and hour claims such as those alleged by the Castillos against GCA and its agents. The Castillos are members of the Gomez settlement class and did not opt out of that settlement. The Castillos claims against Glenair involve the same wage and hour claims, for the same work done, covering the same time period as the claims asserted in Gomez. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment rejecting the Castillo suit. Because Glenair is in privity with GCA (a defendant in Gomez) and is an agent of GCA, the Gomez settlement bars the Castillos’ claims against Glenair as a matter of law. View "Castillo v. Glenair, Inc." on Justia Law

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Google agreed with competitors, such as Apple, not to initiate contact to recruit each others' employees. In 2010, the Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust action, alleging that the agreements illegally diminished competition for tech employees, denying them job opportunities and suppressing wages. On the same day, the companies entered into a stipulated judgment, admitting no liability but agreeing to an injunction prohibiting the "no cold call" arrangements. Google posted a statement online announcing the settlement and denying any wrongdoing, with a link to a Department of Justice press release, describing the settlement terms. There was widespread media coverage. In 2011, class action lawsuits were filed against the companies by employees who alleged that the cold calling restrictions had caused them wage losses. A consolidated action sought over $3 billion in damages on behalf of more than 100,000 employees. A derivative suit, filed by shareholders in 2014, claimed that the company suffered financial losses resulting from the antitrust and class action suits and that the agreements harmed the company’s reputation and stifled innovation. Based on a three-year statute of limitations, the trial court dismissed. The court of appeal affirmed, finding the suit untimely because plaintiffs should have been aware of the facts giving rise to their claims by at least the time of the Department of Justice antitrust action in 2010. View "Police Retirement System of St. Louis v. Page" on Justia Law

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In July 2007, NMG, a luxury fashion retailer, notified its employees that acceptance of the NMG Arbitration Agreement was a mandatory condition of employment which would be implied for all employees who continued to work at NMG beyond July 15, 2007. Tanguilig unsuccessfully tried to negotiate its terms. Tanguilig chose not to return to work after July 15, and sued alleging, among other things: wrongful termination in violation of public policy; wrongful retaliation; wrongfully requiring employees to agree to allegedly illegal terms, failure to provide 10-minute rest periods and 30-minute meal periods and to pay overtime wages and minimum wage in violation of the Labor Code; and failure to pay wages owed at the time of discharge. Early in the proceedings, the court dismissed Tanguilig’s wrongful termination and related claims. Several years later, it dismissed the remaining claims under California’s five-year dismissal statute, Code of Civil Procedure 583.310. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Tanguilig’s argument that the trial court erred in failing to toll the five-year clock under section 583.340(c), for the period during which an order compelling a co-plaintiff to arbitration was in effect. Tanguilig made no factual showing that she could not have brought her claims to trial while that order was in effect View "Tanguilig v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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n 2008, Riske, a Los Angeles police officer from 1990 until his 2014 retirement, reported two fellow officers for filing false reports and testified against them. Afterward, Riske’s colleagues referred to him as a “snitch” and refused to work with him, even ignoring Riske’s requests for assistance in the field. From 2011-2013 Riske applied for 14 highly desirable detective positions. Notwithstanding his superior qualifications, each application was denied, in favor of less experienced or less qualified persons. Riske sued for unlawful retaliation, Labor Code 1102.5, and sought (Evidence Code 1043 and 10451) to obtain summary personnel records relied on by the city in making assignment and promotion decisions. Following a remand, the superior court conducted ordered the requested personnel records to be produced but, pursuant to section 1045(b)(1), which excludes from disclosure “[i]nformation consisting of complaints concerning conduct occurring more than five years before the event or transaction that is the subject of the litigation,” the court ordered redaction of all items concerning conduct that had occurred more than five years before Riske filed his 2014 complaint. The court of appeal again ruled in favor of Riske, holding that section 1045(b) has no application to the personnel reports sought in this case, which are not citizen complaints. View "Riske v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Board of Directors (the Board) of Bear Valley Community Hospital (Bear Valley) refused to promote Dr. Robert O. Powell from provisional to active staff membership and reappointment to Bear Valley's medical staff. Dr. Powell appealed the superior court judgment denying his petition for writ of mandate to void the Board's decision and for reinstatement of his medical staff privileges. Dr. Powell practiced medicine in both Texas and California as a general surgeon. In 2000, the medical executive committee of Brownwood Regional Medical Center (Brownwood), in Texas, found that Dr. Powell failed to advise a young boy's parents that he severed the boy's vas deferens during a hernia procedure or of the ensuing implications. Further, the committee found that Dr. Powell falsely represented to Brownwood's medical staff, on at least two occasions, that he fully disclosed the circumstances to the parents, behavior which the committee considered to be dishonest, obstructive, and which prevented appropriate follow-up care. Based on the committee's findings, Brownwood terminated Dr. Powell's staff membership and clinical privileges. In subsequent years, Dr. Powell obtained staff privileges at other medical facilities. In October 2011, Dr. Powell applied for appointment to the medical staff at Bear Valley. On his initial application form, Dr. Powell was given an opportunity to disclose whether his clinical privileges had ever been revoked by any medical facility. In administrative hearings generated by the Bear Valley Board’s decision, there was a revelation that Dr. Powell had not been completely forthcoming about the Brownwood termination, and alleged the doctor mislead the judicial review committee (“JRC”) about the circumstances leading to that termination. Under Bear Valley's bylaws, Dr. Powell had the right to an administrative appeal of the JRC's decision; he chose, however, to bypass an administrative appeal and directly petition the superior court for a writ of mandamus. In superior court, Dr. Powell filed a petition for writ of mandate under Code of Civil Procedure sections 1094.5 and 1094.6, seeking to void the JRC's/Board's decision and to have his medical privileges reinstated. The trial court denied the petition, and this appeal followed. On appeal of the superior court’s denial, Dr. Powell argued he was entitled to a hearing before the lapse of his provisional staff privileges: that the Board surreptitiously terminated his staff privileges, presumably for a medical disciplinary cause, by allowing his privileges to lapse and failing to act. The Court of Appeal determined the Bear Valley Board had little to no insight into the true circumstances of Dr. Powell’s termination at Brownwood or the extent of his misrepresentations, thus the Board properly exercised independent judgment based on the information presented. In summary, the Court of Appeal concluded Bear Valley provided Dr. Powell a fair procedure in denying his request for active staff privileges and reappointment to the medical staff. View "Powell v. Bear Valley Community Hospital" on Justia Law

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Los Angeles County fired Merritt, a supervisor in the Department of Children and Family Services, for failing to adequately supervise a social worker, Clement, and approving Clement’s closure of a case of suspected child abuse without first consulting the Department’s records, as required by Department policy. Those records indicated the child (eight-year-old Gabriel) was at risk of further abuse and that the file should not have been closed. Less than two months later Gabriel’s mother and her boyfriend beat Gabriel to death. A Civil Service Commission hearing officer found Merritt negligent, but set aside the discharge and imposed a 10-day suspension. Without reading the record or receiving further evidence, the Commission adopted the findings, substituting a 30-day suspension. The Superior Court concluded the Commission set forth insufficient findings to support its decision and remanded. Merritt’s counsel acknowledged that the interlocutory order would not be subject to appellate review. Nevertheless, Merritt appealed. The court of appeal dismissed. While an otherwise nonfinal order remanding a matter to an administrative agency may be appealable if it affects substantial rights and may, as a practical matter, be unreviewable after resolution of the merits, the order from which Merritt purported to appeal left key issues for future resolution. The propriety of that order can be resolved in any future appeal from a final judgment. View "County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission" on Justia Law

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Gordon B., in propria persona, appealed from the trial court's denial of his request to renew an elder abuse restraining order against his neighbor. The Court of Appeal reversed and remanded, agreeing with Gordon B. that the trial court erred by denying his request for lack of evidence that further significant abuse occurred since the original restraining order was issued. On the record before the court, it could not determine whether the error was harmless. Accordingly, the court reversed for a further hearing on Gordon B.'s request to renew the protective order, at which hearing the trial court should determine whether Gordon B. had a reasonable apprehension of future abuse that was sufficient to warrant renewal of the original protective order. View "Gordon B. v. Gomez" on Justia Law