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California Case Summaries New California Civil Cases

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT

Civil Procedure

Black Sky Capital, LLC v. Cobb (2019) _ Cal.5th _ , 2019 WL 1984289: The California Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal regarding the application of the anti-deficiency rule in Code of Civil Procedure section 580d. When a creditor holds two deeds of trust on the same property, section 580d does not preclude the creditor from recovering a deficiency judgment on the junior lien extinguished by a nonjudicial foreclosure sale on the senior lien. (May 6, 2019.)

Heimlich v. Shivji (2019) _ Cal.5th _ , 2019 WL 2292828: The California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal directing it to affirm the trial court’s order confirming the arbitration award but denying costs to respondent. A request for costs under section 998 is timely if filed with the arbitrator within 15 days of a final award. An arbitrator has authority to award costs to the requesting party, but if the arbitrator refuses to award costs, judicial review is limited. (May 30, 2019.)

Employment

Melendez v. S.F. Baseball Associates LLC (2019) _ Cal.5th _ , 2019 WL 1848722: The California Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal finding that a wage and hour action by security guards at what is now named Oracle Park in San Francisco was preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 United States Code, section 185(a). The California Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit did not require interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement (agreement) between the guards’ union and the San Francisco Giants. Although the agreement might be relevant to the lawsuit and might need to be consulted to resolve it, the Supreme Court ruled that the dispute would be decided on the interpretation of state law, the meaning of “discharge” under Labor Code section 201, rather than an interpretation of the agreement. Because no party had identified any provision of the agreement whose meaning was uncertain and required interpretation to resolve plaintiffs’ claim, the lawsuit was not preempted and state courts could decide it on the merits. (April 25, 2019.)

CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL

Arbitration

Diaz v. Sohnen Enterprises (2019) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 1552361: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order denying a petition to compel arbitration in an action alleging workplace discrimination. Because plaintiff continued her employment after notification that an agreement to arbitration was a condition of continued employment, plaintiff impliedly consented to the arbitration agreement. The record contained no evidence of surprise, nor of sharp practices demonstrating substantive unconscionability. Because plaintiff failed to specify, with appropriate citations to the record and relevant legal authority, any terms of the agreement that she believed were unconscionable she waived any argument that the agreement was unenforceable. (C.A. 2nd, April 10, 2019.)

Muller v. Roy Miller Freight Lines, LLC (2019) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 1929662: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting in part, and denying in part (as to one cause of action for lost wages) defendant’s motion to compel arbitration in a wage and hour action. The trial court correctly concluded that plaintiff was a transportation worker engaged in interstate commerce under 9 U.S.C. § 1 and thus exempt from Federal Arbitration Action coverage. Even though plaintiff did not physically transport goods across state lines, his employer was in the transportation industry, and the vast majority of the goods he transported originated outside California. Thus, California Labor Code section 229 required staying the prosecution of his cause of action for unpaid wages while the other five causes of action proceeded to arbitration. (C.A. 4th, May 1, 2019.)

Attorney Fees

Dane-Elec Corp. v. Bodokh (2019) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 2238428: The Court of Appeal affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the trial court’s orders granting attorney fees in an action where plaintiff prevailed on its complaint to recover on a promissory note and also defeated defendant’s cross-complaint to recover allegedly unpaid wages. The trial court found that defendant had not brought the wage claim in bad faith and declined to award plaintiff attorney fees incurred solely in connection with the wage claim, but it awarded plaintiff attorney fees incurred in defending the wage claim that were inextricably intertwined with the contract claim. The Court of Appeal disagreed, ruling that, unless a trial court finds a wage claim was brought in bad faith, Labor Code section 218.5(a) prohibits, as a matter of law, an award of attorney fees to a nonemployee prevailing party for successfully defending a wage claim that is inextricably intertwined with a claim subject to a contractual prevailing party attorney fees provision. To the extent the wage claim and the contract claim are inextricably intertwined, section 218.5(a)’s prohibition on recovering attorney fees controls over the contractual attorney fees provision. (C.A. 4th, May 24, 2019.)

Civil Code

Taniguchi v. Restoration Homes (2019) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 1923068: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment in an action alleging defendant violated Civil Code section 2924c. The Court of Appeal ruled that, to cure a default and reinstate the loan under section 2924c, the borrowers need not pay the amount of an earlier default on the original loan (which had been deferred under a loan modification to the end of the loan term). They are only required to pay the missed modified monthly payments that caused a default on the modified loan. (C.A. 1st, April 30, 2019.)

Civil Procedure

Global Financial Distributors v. Superior Court (2019) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 2083249: The Court of Appeal granted a writ of mandate and reversed the trial court’s order denying defendant’s motion to stay or dismiss an action on the ground of inconvenient forum because it was untimely under Code of Civil Procedure section 418.10(e). The Court of Appeal ruled that section 410.30 applies after a defendant has made a general appearance, and because defendants filed their motion to stay or dismiss on the ground of inconvenient forum after they had appeared in the action by filing demurrers, section 410.30 applied, and the motion was not untimely under section 418.10(e). (C.A. 2nd, filed April 16, 2019, published May 13, 2019.)

Workman v. Colichman (2019) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 1466957: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order denying defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion to strike (Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16) in a complaint by a property owner against her neighbors alleging that the neighbors caused a sale to fall through by sending an email to the owner’s real estate agent claiming that defendants planned to make changes to their property that would destroy the view from plaintiff’s property. The trial court properly ruled that defendants failed to demonstrate that their actions were connected to a public issue. Information about the views from a private residence affecting only those directly interested in buying or selling that house is not an issue of public interest. (C.A. 2nd, April 3, 2019.)

Torts

Burch v. CertainTeed Corp. (2019) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 1594460: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s orders granting defendant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on an intentional misrepresentation claim and denying its motion for JNOV on a concealment claim after the jury returned a verdict for plaintiff in an asbestos case and awarded plaintiff economic damages of $776,201 and noneconomic damages of $9.25 million. The Court of Appeal also reversed the trial court’s order limiting defendant’s noneconomic damage liability to its percentage of fault under Civil Code section 1431.2. The Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court properly granted one JNOV (because plaintiff failed to prove reliance) and denied the other. However, because defendant was liable for the intentional tort of concealment, defendant was jointly and severally liable for all of plaintiff’s noneconomic damages. (C.A. 1st, April 15, 2019.)

Monty A. Mcintyre

Monty A. McIntyre follows his passions for the law and serving others by serving as a mediator, arbitrator and motion referee to help individuals, businesses and lawyers obtain rapid, reasonable resolution of disputes. He is also the Publisher of McIntyre’s California Civil Law Update and can be reached at 619-990-4312 or monty.mcintyre@gmail.com.

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Filed Under: Business ManagementFeatured Stories

About the Author: Monty A. McIntyre follows his passions for the law and serving others by serving as a mediator, arbitrator and motion referee to help individuals, businesses and lawyers obtain rapid, reasonable resolution of disputes. He is also the Publisher of McIntyre’s California Civil Law Update and can be reached at 619-990-4312 or monty.mcintyre@gmail.com.

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