Articles Posted in California Court of Appeal

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Plaintiffs, writers and producers who entered into a profit participation agreement with Walt Disney Pictures regarding their work on the television series, Home Improvement, filed suit alleging that Disney failed to properly account for and pay them the amounts owed under the parties' agreement. The trial court granted Disney's motion for summary adjudication, finding that the claims were time-barred by the contractual limitations period in the incontestability clause. The court concluded that plaintiffs' claims were within the scope of the incontestability clause in the parties' profit participation agreement; Disney met its burden of showing that the 24-month limitations period in the parties' agreement expired prior to the producers objecting to the participation statements; plaintiffs waived the discovery rule by agreeing to the incontestability clause; and, based on the totality of the evidence about Disney's alleged conduct, there were triable issues of fact as to whether Disney waived or was estopped from asserting a contractual limitations defense. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment. View "Wind Dancer Production Group v. Walt Disney Pictures" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Muhammad Iqbal appealed the grant of summary judgment entered against his complaint for personal injuries. In 2011, plaintiff sued Yosemite Auto Sales, Inc. (Yosemite Auto), its owner Eyad Kaid, and Alla Abuziadeh, individually and doing business as Jimmy’s Tow (collectively, the former defendants), for personal injuries. He alleged Yosemite Auto retained him to determine why a vehicle it owned would not start. Unknown to plaintiff, Abuziadeh earlier towed the vehicle to Yosemite Auto and disconnected the transmission shift linkage to do so. He allegedly did not reconnect the shift linkage after towing the car. The trial court ruled the complaint was barred by a general release plaintiff had previously executed that immunized “affiliates” of the defendants in the former case, and defendant Imran Ziadeh was such an affiliate. The Court of Appeal concluded as a matter of law defendant was not a protected “affiliate,” as that term was commonly understood, and reversed. View "Iqbal v. Ziadeh" on Justia Law

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Farrar was hired by Direct Commerce as its vice-president of business development and negotiated an employment agreement set forth in a six-page offer letter detailing her compensation, additional bonus structure, and stock options. The agreement also included an arbitration provision, set off by the same kind of underlined heading and spacing as the other enumerated paragraphs of the agreement. When Farrar sued Direct, alleging breach of contract, conversion, wrongful termination, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and failure to pay wages owed and waiting time penalties, the employer unsuccessfully sought to compel arbitration. The trial court found the arbitration provision procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The court of appeals reversed. While the arbitration provision is one-sided, as it excludes any claims arising from the confidentiality agreement Farrar also signed, that offending exception is readily severable and, on this record, should have been severed. View "Farrar v. Direct Commerce, Inc." on Justia Law

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After a Machine Zone (MZ) employee posted a review on Glassdoor's website disclosing confidential information regarding MZ's RTPlatform technology, MZ filed suit against the employee for violation of a nondisclosure agreement signed by all MZ employees. When Glassdoor refused to identify the employee, MZ moved for an order compelling disclosure, which the trial court granted. Glassdoor petitioned for a writ directing the trial court to set aside its order. The court concluded that Glassdoor has standing to assert the employee's interest in maintaining his anonymity as against MZ's efforts to compel Glassdoor to identify him. The court concluded that MZ failed to make a prima facie showing that the employee's statements disclosed confidential information in violation of the nondisclosure agreement, and granted the requested relief. In this case, MZ denied the accuracy of the employee's report without identifying any real confidential information it might be understood to have disclosed. View "Glassdoor, Inc. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Lauron had two Chase credit cards, one ending in 5285 and one ending in 5274. The Cardmember Agreement for 5274 stated that: “THE TERMS AND ENFORCEMENT OF THIS AGREEMENT AND YOUR ACCOUNT SHALL BE GOVERNED AND INTERPRETED IN ACCORDANCE WITH FEDERAL LAW AND, TO THE EXTENT STATE LAW APPLIES, THE LAW OF DELAWARE, WITHOUT REGARD TO CONFLICT-OF-LAW PRINCIPLES. THE LAW OF DELAWARE, WHERE WE AND YOUR ACCOUNT ARE LOCATED, WILL APPLY NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE OR USE THE ACCOUNT.” Chase sold both accounts to PCC for collection. PCC filed suit. Lauron cross-complained, alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 U.S.C. 1692) and California’s Rosenthal Act by attempting to collect a time-barred debt. The court granted Lauron summary judgment, determining that Delaware’s three-year state of limitations applied and that the limitations period had expired before PCC filed suit, so that PCC was attempting to collect a time-barred debt in violation of the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act. The court of appeal reversed because, with respect to 5285 Lauron had not established when PCC’s claims accrued nor that the Cardmember Agreement applied. With respect to 5274, the court correctly applied Delaware law, but did not establish when the claims accrued. View "Professional Collection Consultants v. Lauron" on Justia Law

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Shalizi purchased an apartment building and wanted to move into unit four. Geraghty had been renting unit four for 22 years and was paying $938 a month. Shalizi’s attorney sent a letter informing Geragthy that Shalizi intended to commence an owner move-in eviction (Ellis Act “no fault” eviction), but suggested a voluntary buyout agreement. Shalizi and Geragthy entered into an agreement that promised Geraghty $25,000 and gave him several months to depart. Geraghty released Shalizi from “any and all claims which have or may have arisen from Tenant’s occupancy of the Premises at any time or any and all claims related to the Premises, including, but not limited to, claims for wrongful eviction, non-compliance with or violations of the provisions of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance [SFRRSAO] and Rules and Regulations, . . . [or the] right to reoccupy the Premises.” Geraghty vacated and Shalizi paid. Shalizi began $70,000 in renovations and occupied the unit. Months later, Shalizi lost his job. Months later, Shalizi found new work, but had to relocate. He rented unit four to a new tenant for $3,700 a month. After discovering Shalizi was again renting out unit four, Geraghty sued for violation of the San Francisco rent ordinance, negligence, fraud, and rescission. The trial court granted Shalizi summary judgment. The court of appeal affirmed, finding Geraghty’s waiver valid and enforceable. View "Geraghty v. Shalizi" on Justia Law

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Leighton sued Forster for breach of an attorney fee contract and an account stated, seeking damages in excess of $114,000. In granting Forster summary judgment, the trial court found that an engagement letter Leighton emailed to Forster’s husband Bob was not a valid contract because it was never signed (Bus. & Prof. Code, section 6148) and any claim for payment of the reasonable value of Leighton’s services was barred by the two-year statute of limitations (Code Civ. Proc, section 339(1)). The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that there were triable issues of material fact regarding Rochelle’s liability for the unpaid attorney fees because she produced evidence that, before Bob died, Leighton and Bob negotiated a fee arrangement that either satisfied the requirements of section 6148 or was exempt from those requirements. The absence of a written fee agreement conclusively establishes that Rochelle was entitled to summary judgment. View "Leighton v. Forster" on Justia Law

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Jacobs, a licensed California real estate broker, had the “exclusive and irrevocable right” to sell a Marin County parcel for one year. The listing price was $2,200,000; if Jacobs procured a buyer during the listing period, Jacobs would receive a commission of $200,000. The agreement specified that if one named party bought the property, Jacobs would receive no commission. Locatelli signed the agreement as trustee of the Locatelli Trust, but there were blank signature lines for five additional parties. Jacobs claimed that Locatelli stated that he was authorized to act on behalf of the other owners and that she can obtain a written “agency agreement” through discovery. When Jacobs noted interest in the property by TPL, Locatelli was angry and asserted that he had been speaking with TPL for three years and that he wanted to change the agreement. Jacobs claimed that she investigated and that her TPL contact told her that he did not know Locatelli and had not been aware the property was for sale until he was contacted by Jacobs. Later, the owners and TPL entered into a sales contract. The sale was never consummated, apparently because issues arose between the parties. Jacobs sued the owners and TPL. The trial court dismissed without explanation. The court of appeal reversed, finding that the claims were not barred by the statute of frauds or the parol evidence rule. View "Jacobs v. Locatelli" on Justia Law

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Western filed suit against La Cumbre for breach of an indemnity agreement where Mark J. Melchiori signed the agreement on La Cumbre's behalf as a managing member. In actuality, he was the managing member of La Cumbre's manager, MIC. MIC did not have actual authority to execute the indemnity agreement on La Cumbre's behalf. The trial court granted summary judgment for Western. The court concluded that Melchiori's signature binds La Cumbre pursuant to former Corporations Code section 17157, subdivision (d) (now section 17703.01, subdivision (d)), provided that the other party to the agreement does not have actual knowledge of the person's lack of authority to execute the agreement on behalf of La Cumbre. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Western Surety Co. v. La Cumbre Office Partners" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs borrowed $110 million in 2007 from Bear Stearns to finance the purchase of Rincon Towers, a San Francisco apartment complex. In 2010, after plaintiffs failed to repay the loan and after changes in the ownership of the loan, CP III purchased the property at a nonjudicial foreclosure sale. Plaintiffs sued CP III and other entities who were involved in administering the loan, unsuccessful workout negotiations, and the eventual foreclosure sale. The trial court rejected all of their claims. The court of appeal remanded plaintiffs’ legal claims (breach of contract, fraud, slander of title, trade secret misappropriation), finding that the trial court erred in striking their demand for a jury trial, but affirmed as to the equitable claims (unfair competition, to set aside the foreclosure sale, and for an accounting). View "Rincon EV Realty, LLC v. CP III Rincon Towers, Inc." on Justia Law