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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[09/18] Pope v. Babick
In this personal injury case involving a motor vehicle accident on a freeway, the jury's finding that defendants are not liable is affirmed, where: 1) there was substantial evidence to support the verdict; and 2) the misconduct of defendant Babick's attorney, while unacceptable, was not so prejudicial as to warrant a mistrial or new trial.

[09/17] Doe v. Internet Brands, Inc.
In this diversity action, plaintiff alleges that, due to defendant's failure to warn users of its networking website, she was a victim of a rape scheme. Dismissal is reversed and remanded for further proceedings, where plaintiff's negligent failure to warn claim did not seek to hold defendant liable as the "publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," and therefore the Communications Decency Act did not bar the claim.

[09/17] Snyder v. California Insurance Guarantee Association
In this declaratory relief action brought against defendant California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) to determine CIGA's obligation to pay the insolvent insurer's policy obligations, the trial court's decision to sustain the demurrer without leave to amend and dismiss the action is reversed, where: 1) a cause of action against CIGA for breach of statutory duties does not accrue until all of the events necessary to create a covered claim have occurred; 2) plaintiffs' complaint alleges no facts indicating that all events occurred more than three years before the complaint was filed; and 3) the present action was therefore not barred by the statute of limitations.

[09/17] Scottsdale Indemnity v. National Continental
In this insurance coverage action, the parties seek the court's determination as to whether they are co-primary insurers or whether defendant National Continental Insurance Company (NCI) is an excess insurer for an underlying fatality involving a tractor/trailer rig. Summary judgment in favor of NCI is affirmed, where plaintiff Scottsdale Indemnity Company was the primary insurer pursuant to California Insurance Code section 11580.9 subdivisions (d) and (h), and NCI was the excess insurer.

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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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