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Caldwell’s 1991 second-degree murder conviction was reversed when the trial court granted his habeas corpus petition. Caldwell’s habeas petition alleged various grounds for relief, including an actual innocence claim, but the sole basis for granting the petition was the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel. Caldwell filed an unsuccessful Penal Code section 1485.551 motion for a finding of factual innocence. The court of appeal affirmed after noting that the order is appealable. The court rejected an argument that the trial court implicitly ignored or discounted certain evidence or applied an incorrect burden of proof in deciding the motion. The court noted many contradictions in Caldwell’s own testimony, multiple witnesses against him, and Caldwell’s efforts to intimidate a witness. Caldwell did not prove his innocence by a preponderance of the evidence. View "People v. Caldwell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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SI 59 appealed from a judgment of dismissal following a demurrer to its second amended complaint against defendants, as well as the post judgment award of attorney fees. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that Civil Code section 1668 negates a contractual clause exempting a party from responsibility for fraud or a statutory violation only when all or some of the elements of the tort are concurrent or future events at the time the contract is signed. The court also held that section 1668 does not negate such a clause when all the elements are past events. The court explained that, regarding the element of damages, which is necessary for tort liability, this means that at least some form of economic or physical damage has occurred. In this case, the negligence claim was barred by the general release and the negligent misrepresentation claim was not pleaded with the requisite specificity. The court rejected the remaining arguments and held that the issue of attorney fees was moot. View "SI 59 LLC v. Variel Warner Ventures, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of a new trial in an action where the jury found in favor of the school district on claims related to a student's fall from a tree located on the campus of his middle school. The court held that the trial court did not clearly err by prohibiting additional mini-opening statements and case specific facts under Code of Civil Procedure section 222.5. The court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's for cause challenges to two jurors. View "Alcazar v. Los Angeles Unified School District" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Genisman and Cline co-owned ECI and Coast. Genisman wanted Cline to buy out his interests and sought to be released from personal guarantees to lenders, including Blumenfeld. Genisman retained the Hopkins law firm. Initial drafts of the transaction documents structured it as a buyout. At some point, Hopkins revised the documents to implement a redemption of Genisman’s interest by the companies. Genisman, signed the documents unaware of the change. In July 2012, Blumenfeld sued Genisman for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and constructive fraud, alleging that Blumenfeld had loaned $3.5 million to Coast, secured by its assets and the personal guarantees; that he released Genisman from his personal guarantees; that $750,000 remained unpaid when, in 2009, Coast became insolvent; that, in 2012, Blumenfeld learned that the documents called for Coast to pay Genisman $1,115,000; and that he would not have agreed to release Genisman from his personal guarantees had Genisman properly advised him of the terms. Genisman’s new law firm billed Genisman $2,475.40 to defend. Genisman sued Hopkins in December 2013. The court affirmed rejection of the suit as untimely under Code of Civil Procedure 340.6(a), which requires legal malpractice claims be brought one year after actual or constructive discovery. View "Genisman v. Hopkins Carley" on Justia Law

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Class actions are not allowed under the Right to Repair Act except in one limited context: to assert claims that address solely the incorporation into a residence of a defective component, unless that component is a product that is completely manufactured offsite. The Court of Appeal held that, because the claim here involved allegedly defective products that were completely manufactured offsite, the claim alleged under the Act could not be litigated as a class action. In this case, homeowners could not bring a class action asserting a claim under the Act against Kohler, the manufacturer of an allegedly defective plumbing fixture used in the construction of class members' homes. Therefore, the court granted Kohler's writ petition and issued a writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its order to the extent it denied in part Kohler's anti-class certification motion and to enter a new order granting the motion in its entirety. View "Kohler Co. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

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In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal noted that effective January 1, 2019, Code of Civil Procedure section 998 will have no application to costs and attorney and expert witness fees in a Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) action unless the lawsuit is found to be "frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so." In regard to the litigation that predated the application of the amended version of Government Code section 12965(b), the court held that section 998 does not apply to nonfrivolous FEHA actions and reversed the order awarding defendant costs and expert witness fees pursuant to that statute. View "Huerta v. Kava Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lloyd Copenbarger, as Trustee of the Hazel I. Maag Trust (the Maag Trust), sued Morris Cerullo World Evangelism, Inc. (MCWE) for declaratory relief and breach of a settlement agreement made to resolve various disputes, including an unlawful detainer action. MCWE was the lessee of a 50-year ground lease (the Ground Lease) of real property (the Property) in Newport Beach. The Property was improved with an office building and marina (the Improvements). The Ground Lease was set to terminate on December 1, 2018. In 2004, MCWE subleased the Property and sold all of the Improvements to NHOM (the Sublease). Starting in 2009, NHOM experienced cash flow problems due to “a shortage of rents.” In June 2011, MCWE commenced an unlawful detainer action against NHOM based on allegations NHOM failed to maintain and undertake required repairs to the Improvements. Six months later, the Maag Trust intervened in the UD Action as a party defendant under the theory that if NHOM were evicted and the Sublease terminated, then the Maag Trust’s security interest created by the Maag Deed of Trust would be destroyed. In August 2012, MCWE, Plaza del Sol, and the Maag Trust entered into a settlement agreement (the Settlement Agreement). The Maag Trust alleged MCWE breached the settlement agreement by failing to dismiss with prejudice the unlawful detainer action and sought, as damages, attorney fees incurred in that action from the date of the settlement agreement to the date on which MCWE did dismiss the action. Following a bench trial, the trial court found MCWE had breached the settlement agreement by not timely dismissing with prejudice the unlawful detainer action. As damages, the court awarded the Maag Trust attorney fees it claimed to have incurred during the relevant time period. On appeal, MCWE did not challenge the finding that its failure to dismiss the unlawful detainer action constituted a breach of the settlement agreement. Instead, MCWE made a number of arguments challenging the damages awarded. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment against MCWE because there was a wholesale failure of proof of the amount of damages on the part of the Maag Trust. Therefore, the Court reversed with directions to enter judgment in favor of MCWE on the Maag Trust’s complaint. View "Copenbarger v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism, Inc." on Justia Law

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The wife in a married couple (defendants C.P. and J.P., wife and husband) conceived a child with a coworker (plaintiff C.A.), but hid that fact from wife’s employer and initially, from husband. The marriage remained intact and wife and husband parented the child. For the first three years of the child’s life, the couple allowed plaintiff to act in an alternate parenting role, and the child bonded with him and his close relatives. Defendants excluded plaintiff from the child’s life when he filed the underlying petition seeking legal confirmation of his paternal rights. The trial court found that wife misled the court at an interim custody hearing, prolonging what the court later viewed as an unwarranted separation. Despite this period of separation, the court found the child was still bonded to all three parents and found this to be a “rare” case where, pursuant to statutory authority, each of three parents should have been legally recognized as such, to prevent detriment to their child. Defendants appealed, but finding no abuse of discretion, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "C.A. v. C.P." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Defendant appealed from a judgment entered following Proposition 47 resentencing on the sole remaining felony conviction in the present case. The trial court originally sentenced him to a consecutive term of eight months and dismissed six prior prison term enhancements. After the other felony convictions comprising the aggregate sentence had been reduced to misdemeanors pursuant to Proposition 47, on the remaining felony conviction the trial court resentenced defendant to prison for eight years. On remand from the California Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal vacated its prior decision and remanded pursuant to People v. Buycks, (2018) 5 Cal.5th 857, for resentencing with directions to strike the three prior prison term enhancements based on felony convictions that were reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "People v. Acosta" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Association sought a writ of mandate directing the appellate division to vacate its order granting a petition for writ of mandate and directing the trial court to rule on the merits of a special motion to strike, Code of Civil Procedure 425.16, filed by defendant and real party in interest. The Association wanted the trial court to enter a new and different order denying real party in interest's petition for writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal held that the restrictive language of Code of Civil procedure section 92(d), which limits the type of motions to strike that may be brought in a limited civil case, precludes the filing of a special motion to strike under section 425.16. The court reasoned that construing section 92(d) as barring anti-SLAPP motions in limited civil cases was also in harmony with the public policy of economic litigation in such cases. Accordingly, the court granted the Association's petition for writ of mandate. View "1550 Laurel Owner's Association, Inc. v. Appellate Division of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure