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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[07/22] In Re: Johns-Manville Corporation Common Law Settlement Counsel
The district court erred in reversing the bankruptcy court's final judgment that had enforced settlement agreements and compelled the objecting insurers to make payments to asbestos plaintiffs under the agreements, where: 1) the relevant conditions precedent to payment under the agreements were satisfied; 2) the objecting insurers waived certain arguments regarding conditions that plaintiffs either execute a specific number of releases and deliver them into escrow or dismiss their claims with prejudice; and 3) the bankruptcy court correctly applied prejudgment interest to the amount owed and correctly calculated the total payment due from the appropriate date.

[07/22] Gonzalez v. Planned Parenthood
The dismissal of plaintiff's complaint alleging that defendant violated the False Claims Act (FCA) and the California False Claims Act by knowingly and falsely overbilling state and federal governments for contraceptives supplied to low income individuals is affirmed, where: 1) plaintiff's third amended complaint did not state a plausible claim that defendant knowingly made false claims with the statutory scienter, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a); 2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiff further leave to amend his complaint; and 3) the state law claims were barred by the three-year statute of limitations.

[07/21] Massey v. Ojaniit
In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging that defendant-officers had fabricated evidence that led to plaintiff's arrest, convictions, and nearly-twelve-year incarceration before he was released when the convictions were stricken: 1) judgments in favor of defendant Ojaniit and Esposito are affirmed, where, for all of plaintiff's asserted claims, plaintiff has failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted; and 2) the appeal as to defendant Ledford is dismissed, where defendant unequivocally advised the district court that he did not object to the magistrate's report insofar as the magistrate judge recommended the granting of defendant Ledford's motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).

[07/21] Ganoe v. Metalclad Insulation Corp.
Summary judgment in favor of defendant Metalclad in a wrongful death action alleging that multiple corporate defendants were liable for exposing decedent to asbestos at his workplace causing him to develop mesothelioma, is reversed and remanded, where: 1) defendant did not meet its burden of proof as the moving party on summary judgment; and 2) plaintiffs raised triable issues of material fact.

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Workers' Comp

[07/18] Benavides v. WCAB
The decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board rescinding petitioner's disability rating is annulled, where there was good cause for the Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) to reopen the case and therefore the appeals board is directed to reinstate the WCJ's award of a 72 percent disability rating. (Opinion after rehearing)

[06/27] Old Republic Construction Program Group v. Boccardo Law Firm
The trial court's order denying defendants' motion under the anti-SLAPP law, to strike three causes of action asserted against them by plaintiff, alleging that defendants law firm and attorney wrongfully withdrew settlement funds derived from a now-defunct lawsuit, which they had deposited in their trust account pursuant to a stipulation requiring plaintiff's consent to any withdrawal, is affirmed, where: 1) in determining whether a cause of action arises from conduct protected by the statute, the focus is on the wrongful, injurious conduct identified in the complaint, and whether that conduct comes within the statute's description of protected conduct; 2) unless the wrongful conduct is communicative in character, it is protected by the statute only if it was undertaken in connection with an issue of public importance; and here, 3) because the withdrawal of funds underlying the causes of action at issue was neither communicative nor related to an issue of public interest, the trial court properly denied a motion to dismiss those causes of action.

[06/26] Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co.
In an action brought under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) alleging that defendant-employer failed to reasonably accommodate plaintiff's physical disability and refused to rehire him in retaliation for plaintiff's having filed a workers' compensation claim, the Court of Appeal's decision holding that plaintiff's action was barred by the doctrines of after-acquired evidence and unclean hands based on the defendant-employer's later discovery that plaintiff had used another man's Social Security number to gain employment with defendant, is reversed and remanded, where: 1) Senate Bill No. 1818, which extends state law employee protections and remedies to all workers "regardless of immigration status," is not preempted by federal immigration law except to the extent it authorizes an award of lost pay damages for any period after the employer's discovery of an employee's ineligibility to work in the United States; and 2) contrary to the Court of Appeal's holdings, the doctrines of after-acquired evidence and unclean hands are not complete defenses to a worker's claims under California's FEHA, although they do affect the availability of remedies.

[06/25] Young v. WCAB
A county jail correctional sergeant's off-duty injury, sustained when he was performing jumping jacks at home as part of his regular warm-up exercise regimen, arose in the course of his employment under Labor Code section 3600(a)(9)'s exception for workers' compensation coverage, where: 1) a departmental order required correctional officers to "maintain themselves in good physical condition so that they can handle the strenuous physical contacts often required of a law enforcement officer"; and 2) the Butte County Sheriff's Department required its correctional officers to undergo periodic training exercises, many of which involved physical activity. The decision from the Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB), which concluded otherwise, is annulled and remanded.

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