Eghtesad v. State Farm General Insurance Company (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 406. The First District reversed the dismissal of my client's complaint without leave to amend following State Farm's demurrer to the complaint.
My client, who initially was pro per, tried suing his insurance company for not covering a claim he made on a building he owned. He leased a portion of the building to someone and as a condition of leasing required that he be named as an additional insured for fire and liability insurance, only for the carrier, State Farm, to deny coverage when he subsequently made a claim.
State Farm demurred. The trial judge gave him a continuance to get counsel. Before he could he was involved in a car accident for which he was hospitalized and for which the client sought additional time. He provided documentation. The trial court gave one more continuance but then refused any further continuances and sustained the demurrer without leave to amend.
He appealed and then came to me.
Reversed. Even though the client did not seek amendment in the trial court CCP section 472c(a) leaves the issue open on appeal. State Farm argued that grounds for amendment could only be shown from the record, but this was an original complaint and the standard for leave to amend for original complaints is that it is an abuse of discretion to deny leave to amend an original complaint unless it shows on its face that it is incapable of amendment. The Court also held that appellant's brief could state the basis for amendment, in lieu of the record.
The Court's Opinion reversing dismissal is attached below, as are my appellate briefs.
Appellant's Opening Brief: Opening Brief
Appellant's Reply Brief: Reply Brief
Kelley v. The Conco Companies, et al. (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 191, First District Court of Appeal, Division Five, Case No. A126865, filed June 6, 2011. The First District reversed a summary judgment granted to employer Conco, one of California's largest concrete construction companies, on the grounds that my client Patrick Kelley, an apprentice ironworker, had shown triable issues of material facts that he was retaliated against by Conco for complaining to Conco supervisors about blistering, obscene, sexually-laden derogatory comments made towards him that violated Conco's own guidelines, once those guidelines were established after Kelley filed suit in this matter.
The 6th District Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, upheld 90% of the residential fees and all of the commercial/industrial fees imposed. The Court found flaws in the district?s fee justification study, but also held the study contained sufficient evidence to justify imposing 90% of the residential fees actually imposed. The Court also held, based on the legislative history of Government Code � 66020(e), that the developer only recovers the portion of the fee that exceeds the amount the district can properly impose.
Bruner v. Geldermann, Inc. (1991) 229 Cal.App.3d 662: The First District reversed a trial court judgment in favor Geldermann. Geldermann sued Bruner for real estate commissions in connection with the sale of commercial real estate. After a sixteen-day court trial, the trial judge disclosed that he had entered into an agreement with plaintiff?s counsel regarding a piece of real estate. Bruner tried and failed to disqualify the trial judge for cause at both the trial and appellate court levels. Bruner timely requested a statement of decision and objected to the proposed statement of decision. The trial judge denied the objections and issued the statement of decision and judgment in the same minute order in which he voluntarily disqualified himself under California Code of Civil Procedure � 170.4.
The 1st District held that the effect of the disqualification was to invalidate the statement of decision and judgment. The Court also held that none of the exceptions to the disqualification rule applied and that entry of the statement of decision and judgment were not ministerial acts. I wrote the portion of the reply brief that dealt with this issue (the 1st District seemed to adopt this reasoning), and signed the brief (another co-counsel wrote the portion of the brief dealing with the commission dispute). With three (3) other counsel already listed my name did not appear as a counsel of record in the official reports.
Waste Management of the Desert, Inc., et al. v. Palm Springs Recycling Center. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 478. The California Supreme Court by a 5-2 vote modified and otherwise affirmed the 4th District (Div. Two) opinion reversing a preliminary injunction in favor of the City of Rancho Mirage's exclusive commercial recycling franchise with Waste Management of the Desert. Palm Springs Recycling was a small recycling company picking up the most valuable commercial recyclables from large businesses in Rancho Mirage.
Rancho Mirage and Waste Management had agreed that Waste Management would have an exclusive franchise to pick up commercial recyclables under the Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (AB 939). That statute requires local agencies to reduce their waste streams by 50% by the year 2000 or else face fines of up to $10,000.00 per day and allows local agencies to award exclusive franchises as one way of reaching their objective.
The trial court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Waste Management and Rancho Mirage prohibiting Palm Springs Recycling from collecting those materials. The Fourth District reversed, holding that the exclusive franchise under Public Resources Code � 40059(a)(2) applies only where the owner of the materials discards those materials, which then enter the waste stream. Selling or donating those materials did not fall within the definition of solid waste materials since the materials were valuable, according to the Fourth District. The Fourth District also held that local agencies' police powers did not give agencies the authority over valuable materials, relying in part on authority based on an old, discredited line of U.S. Supreme Court cases.
With Harvey Levine (currently Fremont City Attorney), I represented as amicus curiae approximately 65 California cities on behalf of the City of Rancho Mirage and Waste Management before both the 4th District and California Supreme Court. We argued that local agencies had the authority under the police power to enforce the exclusive franchise as written. The California Supreme Court opinion decided the case solely on AB 939. It modified the 4th District?s opinion by holding that donated materials, because the owner of those materials does not receive compensation for them, fell within the definition of "discarded" and therefore were subject to exclusive franchises under the Act. The dissent, written by then-Associate (and current Chief) Justice George and joined by Associate Justice Mosk found that the franchise was enforceable as asserted under both the Act and police power authority, largely adopting our analysis.
Hughey v. City of Hayward, et al. (1994) 24 Cal.App.4th 206: The First District denied a motion to dismiss the appeal for untimeliness. The Court held that the sixty (60) day time limit under California Rule of Court 2(a) only begins to run from the date of service of a document entitled "Notice of Entry" or a file-stamped copy of judgment or appealable order. The one hundred eighty (180) day limit under Rule of Court 2(b) runs from the date of entry of the minute order unless the minute order designated prevailing party to prepare the order after hearing, irrespective of Rule of Court 391. The opinion prompted the adoption of the last paragraph of Rule of Court 2(b), effective January 1, 1995.
Brossoit v. Brossoit (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 361. The 1st District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court order declining California's jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (California Family Code �� 3400-3425) as an abuse of discretion. The case continues as precedent under the successor to the UCCJA, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act.
A few days after my client sought to modify custody, the children's paternal grandmother, who had been looking after the children for the father (but who did not have a court order giving her custody), moved with the children to Tennessee. After my client finally located her ex-husband to serve him with her Order to Show Cause to Modify Custody, the grandmother filed a guardianship petition in Tennessee that did not reveal the existence of the pending California case. The trial court in California held a jurisdiction hearing. While that hearing was pending, Tennessee granted the guardianship petition. The trial court in California, Family Law Commissioner Josanna Berkow presiding, declined jurisdiction even though California still had jurisdiction over the matter and Tennessee did not.
The 1st District held that California could only decline jurisdiction if another state already had jurisdiction at the time and Tennessee did not. California's continuing jurisdiction was exclusive and all of the contacts with Tennessee took place after the grandmother's unilateral removal of the children to Tennessee. To find that Tennessee had jurisdiction in this case would have encouraged the unilateral moving of children from one state to another, the type of conduct the UCCJA sought to deter. The trial court also abused its discretion by failing to assess all the factors listed in Family Code � 3407(c).
W.W.S.M. Investors, et al. v. Greve, Clifford, et al. (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th 517: The Third District, in the published portion of its opinion, remanded the matter for reconsideration by the trial court in light of its Opinion. A partnership took control over another business in which it possessed a security interest after that business breached its contract with the partnership. The business owed tax liens to the IRS. Those liens were junior to the partnership?s. However, the IRS, despite correspondence from the partnership, levied on its liens.
The partnership hired a tax specialist at defendant law firm to look into the matter. The specialist was able to persuade the agency that the partnership's security interest was senior to the IRS? lien. However, the IRS still required the partnership to submit an application for refund of the levied money and the specialist failed to provide adequate advice to the partnership as to how to apply for the return of the levied funds. As a result, the nine-month statute of limitations for filing suit to recover the funds was not tolled and the partnership?s complaint for return of the improperly levied funds was dismissed as untimely. The partnership appealed to the 9th Circuit and in the meantime, pursued its malpractice action.
The trial court found for the partnership on the malpractice issue and awarded damages, but imposed a lien on plaintiff?s recovery in the underlying action and failed to award plaintiff a significant amount of damages to the partnership, comprised primarily of attorney fees incurred in the underlying claim in trying to remedy the malpractice.
The appellate court held that the amount of a legal malpractice defendant?s lien on plaintiff's future recovery in the underlying cases must be determined after deducting the malpractice plaintiff's costs and fees in the underlying action. The court held that to do otherwise would be inequitable and that an assignment of the partnership?s claim against the IRS to the defendant firm might be an appropriate way of addressing the lien issue, since the partnership won its 9th Circuit appeal. In the unpublished portion of the opinion, the appellate court largely affirmed the judgment on the damage issues and affirmed the defendant firm's cross-appeal on the liability issues.
Williams v. UNUM Life Insurance Co. of America, 113 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 1997), partially overruled in Wetzel v. Lou Ehlers Cadillac Group Long Term Disability Ins. Program (9th Cir. 2000), 222 F.3d 643. The 9th Circuit reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of UNUM on statute of limitations grounds. Williams worked as a medical supplies salesperson for Storz Surgical Instruments. As part of his compensation package, Williams was a beneficiary of a long-term disability insurance policy issued and administered by UNUM.
He injured his back in a car accident an needed spinal fusion surgery. He was disabled and submitted a claim to UNUM which, a little over six months and numerous ambiguous letters requesting further information later, UNUM approved. UNUM sent Williams a check for the first disability period and told him to let them know if for any reason he could not return to work beyond a specific date. Before UNUM sent this letter Williams had already informed UNUM orally and in writing that during a trial return to work period he had re-injured his back and was again disabled. UNUM's own claims file verified this communication. This was a recurrent injury under the terms of UNUM's policy and Williams' doctors sent correspondence to UNUM verifying this later period of disability. Williams believed that his and his doctors' prior oral and written communication already addressed this request and did not respond. Almost two months later, UNUM closed his file without notifying him.
Two months after UNUM closed his file, Williams submitted a follow-up claim for disability benefits through his employer. Soon after, he began receiving disability benefits from another company and thought the matter was resolved. He also needed a second spinal fusion, since the first one failed. He subsequently found out from his employer that the benefits he was receiving were short-term, not long-term benefits and that he needed to contact UNUM about his long-term disability needs. Williams did so, and UNUM denied his claim as untimely under the terms of the policy and also denied his administrative appeal.
The district court granted summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds. The district court found that since over three years passed since either proof of loss was due under the terms of the policy or because Williams knew or reasonably should have known that UNUM denied his claim. On appeal the 9th Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that questions of fact whether Williams timely submitted a proof of claim and that whether Williams knew or reasonably should have known that UNUM denied his claim precluded summary judgment. The 9th Circuit also remanded the case to the district court for determination of whether UNUM's proof of loss provision violated California law. Following remand the parties settled the matter.