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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[09/25] Zucchet v. Galardi
In this malicious prosecution action, order denying defendant's special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute is reversed and remanded, where: 1) defendant has established his burden under the first prong of the anti-SLAPP statute to establish that plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim arises from protected activity; and 2) plaintiff has not met his burden to make a prima facie case that he has a meritorious malicious prosecution claim.

[09/25] Nguyen v. Western Digital
In this tort action, plaintiff alleges that her birth defects were caused by in utero exposure to hazardous and toxic chemicals at defendant-employer. Dismissal on grounds that the actions was barred by the statute of limitations for pre-birth injuries in section 340.4 of the Code of Civil Procedure is reversed, where: 1) claims based on birth or pre-birth injuries that are due to exposure to hazardous materials or toxic substances are subject to the limitations period in section 340.8, which entitles plaintiff to tolling; and 2) there was delayed accrual until December 1998, and thus plaintiff was not barred under the six-year limitations period in section 340.4 when section 340.8 went into effect in January 2004, which then tolled the limitations period.

[09/24] Mercury Casualty v. Chu
In this insurance action, plaintiff seeks declaratory relief regarding its insurance obligation towards defendants. Summary judgment in favor of plaintiff on the issue of whether the policy provided coverage for passenger Pham's judgment, and the court's determination that plaintiff's policy excludes coverage for Pham's personal injury lawsuit against driver Chu is reversed, where the policy provision excluding Pham from coverage is an overbroad expansion of the statutorily permitted exclusion and is contrary to public policy.

[09/24] Owens v. Baltimore City State's Attorneys Office
In this action brought under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his constitutional rights by intentionally withholding exculpatory evidence during his 1988 trial for the rape and murder of a woman. Dismissal of the complaint is: 1) reversed in part, where the statute of limitations on plaintiff's section 1983 claim was found by applying that of an analogous common-law tort, malicious prosecution, which sets the start of the limitations period at the date of the nolle prosequi; 2) plaintiff thus timely filed his complaint; 3) the officers were clearly on notice of the impermissibility of their conduct at the time of the alleged violations; 4) plaintiff pled sufficient factual content against Baltimore City Police Department to survive dismissal; and 5) affirmed in part, where "Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office" is a term of convenience only and is not an entity amenable to suit.

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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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