2021 case review: Park v. Law Offices of Tracey Buck-Walsh
Published on Sun, 02/06/2022 - 11:09pm
Plaintiff Park filed a lawsuit alleging that his former attorneys, who had represented him from 2003 to 2012 in connection with his casino businesses were intentionally interfering with the expansion of that business. The law firm allegedly used confidential information gained as a result of their prior representation to assist his competitors and to prejudice regulators against Park’s purchase of two additional casinos. This allegedly amounted to breach of fiduciary duty and intentional interference with financial gain. The motivation of the law firm was ostensibly the fee dispute that had resulted in the severance of the attorney-client relationship.
While a property owner is as a general rule liable for injuries that occur on its premises, that is not always the case. In this matter, the Supreme Court found a sizeable exception to that general rule. Plaintiff was hired by a contractor to perform work on the defendant’s property. The contractor removed a protective cover from what turned out to be a live circuit. Plaintiff was working in the area, and triggered an arc flash that caused burns to a large portion of his body.
Plaintiffs had trained to compete in Taekwondo in the Olympics and filed suit against their former coach for sexual abuse. Plaintiffs named the US Olympic Committee and the USA Taekwondo organization for negligence for having not prevented the abuse.
The Court held that a plaintiff is entitled to fees for attorney time spent after the plaintiff rejects a 998 offer, so long as the plaintiff ultimately recovers more than the 998 offered. The Court explained that the trial court retains broad discretion to evaluate post-offer attorney fees and costs and to reduce the fee recovery if appropriate, but it may not deny all fees from the date of the offer when the plaintiff’s decision to continue to litigate results in a more favorable judgment or award. In this case since Plaintiff ultimately settled for 10% more, plaintiff was entitled to fees for the time after the 998 offer was rejected.
2021 case review: Khosravan v. Chevron Corporation, the Court of Appeal
Published on Sun, 02/06/2022 - 11:00pm
The Court of Appeal’s holding in this case makes it so that a Code of Civil Procedure section 998 offer to compromise can virtually never include an indemnity provision. Plaintiff Khosravan, an employee in an Iranian Oil Facility where a consortium involving a predecessor of Chevron had some control of operations, contracted mesothelioma from asbestos exposure and filed suit against Chevron. Chevron made a section 998 offer of dismissal in exchange for a waiver of costs, but that offer also included a requirement that the plaintiffs indemnify Chevron from any further claims made by the plaintiffs, their heirs, or third parties, including claims for loss of consortium. Chevron prevailed on a motion for summary judgment, was entitled to costs, and was able to recover its expert costs pursuant to its section 998 offer, as plaintiffs had to pay items of cost they would not have had they accepted Chevron’s offer including a waiver of costs.
2021 case review: Mostafavi Law Group, APC v. Larry Rabineau, APC
Published on Sun, 02/06/2022 - 10:56pm
In this case the Court of Appeal decided whether a 998 offer that did not include a provision specifying how to accept the offer resulted in a judgment where the party receiving the offer communicated acceptance by signing the offer itself, and filing the signed offer with the trial court. Defendant filed a motion to vacate the judgment arguing that the 998 offer of $25,000.01 to settle a defamation claim he authored and served was invalid for failure to include an acceptance provision. The trial court ultimately agreed with the motion and vacated the judgment relying on the language of Code of Civil Procedure section 998 which specifically requires for the offer to be valid that it include a provision stating how the offer may be accepted.
2021 case review: Lavarious Gardiner v. Walmart Inc. et al. case
Published on Sun, 02/06/2022 - 10:09pm
Plaintiff in this case alleged that because he found his personally identifying information on the dark web, Walmart had suffered a data breach. Walmart argued that Plaintiff’s failure to allege the time the breach occurred was fatal because the CCPA could not apply to any breach occurring before January 1, 2020, the date it took effect. The Court also held that Plaintiff’s CCPA claim failed because Plaintiff did not sufficiently allege disclosure of his personal information. The Court found insufficient the Complaint’s allegation that the breach compromised the full names, financial account information, credit card information, and other PII of Walmart customers: “[a]lthough in the Complaint Plaintiff generally refers to financial information and credit card fraud, he does not allege the disclosure of a credit or debit card or account number, and the required security or access code to access the account.”
The California Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal and preserved the previously understood interpretation of Penal Code section 632.7, that it requires the consent of all parties to a call before the call can be recorded. Section 632.7 makes it a crime when a person, "without consent of all parties to a communication," intercepts or intentionally records a communication transmitted between a cellular or cordless telephone and another telephone. The court of appeal had held that only non-parties were required to obtain consent. The Supreme Court reversed and held that recording a communication without the speaker's consent is unlawful, regardless of whether a party to the call or someone else is recording the call.
The US Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, holding that to be considered an “automatic telephone dialing system” (or “autodialer”) for purposes of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), the phone number used by the device to make the call must have been created by a random or sequential number generator, so that the number was either stored by the system, or generated by the system prior to dialing. The Supreme Court overturned the Ninth Circuit’s holding that a device was an autodialer if it “store[d] numbers to be called” and “dial[ed] such numbers automatically,” resolving a circuit split on the scope of the term.
2021 case review: Alvarez v. Altamed Health Services Corp`
Published on Sun, 02/06/2022 - 10:04pm
In this case the Court of Appeals upheld imposition of arbitration in a case in which the Defendant did not sign the agreement. That is, the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against their employer, and the defendant made a motion to have it transferred out of court and to an arbitrator.