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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[08/26] Yau v. Santa Margarita Ford
In this suit brought by plaintiff-employee against his former employer for wrongful termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the trial court's dismissal of the action is: 1) affirmed in part as to the dismissal of the intentional infliction of emotional distress cause of action, as physical and emotional injuries sustained in the course of employment are pre-empted by the workers' compensation scheme and generally will not support an independent cause of action; and 2) reversed in part, where plaintiff adequately alleged his wrongful termination cause of action applied to statutes proscribing theft and fraud.

[08/20] Thompson v. Miles
In this suit brought by plaintiff-buyer to recover damages for repairs he made to newly purchased property after discovering a number of problems with the property, alleging breach of contract, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation, summary judgment entered in favor of defendants is affirmed, where: 1) Maine’s implied warranty of habitability did not apply under the circumstances of this case; and 2) defendants had no duty of disclosure.

[08/15] United National Maintenance v. San Diego Convention Center
Judgment in favor of defendant for intentional interference with contractual relationship, antitrust violations, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, is: 1) reversed in part, where plaintiff, a vendor of trade show cleaning services, intentionally interfered with contracts of a convention center and the tort of intentional interference also applies to parties for whom there is a legitimate interest in the result of the underlying conduct, which includes plaintiff; and 2) affirmed in part, where the district court committed instructional error by not interpreting the terms of the contracts to enable the jury to understand whether the competing maintenance company’s performance was disrupted, and such error was prejudicial and warrants a new trial.

[08/15] Russell v. Absolute Collection Servs.
Judgment as a matter of law in favor of plaintiff-debtor over defendant debt collector is affirmed in its entirety, where defendant’s conduct violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) 15 U.S.C. section 1692-1692p and the North Carolina Collection Agency Act section 58-70-1 by falsely reporting the status of the debt and threatening to report the paid-off debt to credit bureaus as past due.

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Workers' Comp

[08/06] LeFiell Manufacturing Co. v. Superior Court (Watrous)
In an action brought by plaintiff-employee under Labor Code section 4558, which provides an exception to the exclusivity of the workers' compensation system for employees injured as a result of the employer's knowing removal of, or knowing failure to install, a point of operation guard on a power press, the trial court erred in denying defendant-employer's motion for summary judgment, where: 1) the door that was removed from the Fenn 5F swaging machine operated by plaintiff-employee is not a point of operation guard as a matter of law; and thus, 2) defendant -employer is entitled to summary judgment.

[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.

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