Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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A plaintiff can sue police in civil court for excessive force after he has been convicted in criminal court. In this case, plaintiff pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace after interacting with an officer at an airport parking lot. Plaintiff then filed a civil complaint for excessive force against the officer, the City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles World Police Department. The Court of Appeal held that the past conviction did not establish that the officer used only reasonable force and thus the first criminal conviction is consistent with the second civil case. Therefore, the court reversed the trial court's judgment and awarded costs to plaintiff. View "Kon v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Jarboe was hired by DKD of Davis, doing business as Hanlees Davis Toyota. Shortly after he began working, Jarboe was transferred to Leehan of Davis, doing business as Hanlees Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Kia. Following his termination at Leehan, Jarboe brought a wage and hour action against the Hanlees Auto Group, its 12 affiliated dealerships, including DKD and Leehan, and three individuals. The defendants moved to compel arbitration based on an employment agreement between Jarboe and DKD. The trial court granted the motion as to 11 of the 12 causes of action against DKD of Davis but denied the motion as to the other defendants and allowed Jarboe’s claim under the Private Attorneys General Act, Labor Code 2698. to proceed in court against all defendants. The court refused to stay the causes of action allowed to proceed in litigation pending arbitration of Jarboe’s claims against DKD. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument by Hanlees, its affiliated dealerships, and the individual defendants that they were entitled to enforce the agreement to arbitrate between Jarboe and DKD as third party beneficiaries of Jarboe’s employment agreement or under the doctrine of equitable estoppel. The trial court did not err in failing to stay the litigation under Labor Code section 1281. View "Jarboe v. Hanlees Auto Group" on Justia Law

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Owens owns and resides in a single-family Oakland house. He rented individual rooms to three unrelated tenants. Tenant Barghout filed a petition under Oakland’s Rent Adjustment Program alleging her housing became unsuitable due to disruptive construction work and hazardous conditions and that Owens failed to provide the required notice of the Rent Adjustment Program and retaliated by terminating her lease when she complained and sought a reduction in rent. Owens filed an unlawful detainer complaint, identifying Barghout as a month-to-month housemate with “sole use of one or more rooms and shared use of common areas.” A hearing officer rejected an argument that Barghout’s rental was not subject to the Ordinance because the rooms she rented were in a single-family home that was “alienable, separate from the title of any other dwelling unit,” exempt under the Costa-Hawkins Act from local rent control. The Rent Board, trial court, and court of appeal affirmed. The term “dwelling unit” has different meanings under building and planning codes and rent control ordinances. Under landlord-tenant law, “a dwelling or a unit” is not the entire property to which an owner holds title; it is any area understood to be committed to the habitation of a given tenant or tenants to the exclusion of others. The relevant dwelling unit is not Owens’s home but each of the rooms he rented to tenants. View "Owens v. City of Oakland Housing, Residential Rent & Relocation Board" on Justia Law

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A man parked his car in San Francisco's Sutter-Stockton Garage, leaving his dog in the car. When he returned, he saw his dog had been brutally killed. A security guard viewed video clips from the incident and recognized Best, who was charged with second-degree burglary of a vehicle; killing, maiming, or abusing an animal; and vandalism of the vehicle, plus four misdemeanors. The trial court declared a doubt about Best’s competency; Best apparently refused to face the judge in order to avoid having her image recorded. Experts evaluated Best; the court found Best mentally competent to stand trial. The matter was continued for a Faretta hearing. A different judge confirmed that Best had read and initialed each portion of an “Advisement and Waiver of Right to Counsel” and inquired into Best’s education and awareness of the charges. The court engaged in extensive questioning. Some of Best’s responses betrayed a lack of understanding of legal concepts and procedures. When the court asked Best about possible defenses, her discussion verged on incoherence. Best gave clear, accurate answers to simpler questions. The court denied her motion. Best was convicted. The court of appeal reversed; the trial court erred in denying Best the right to represent herself on the grounds she had not knowingly and voluntarily made that choice. The court rejected arguments that the Faretta motion was untimely and that Best was disruptive and disobedient and noted that the transcript does not show Best was advised of the maximum punishment she faced. View "People v. Best" on Justia Law

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This appeal challenges the legality of lease-leaseback agreements used by school districts for construction and modernization projects. The trial court entered judgment dismissing plaintiff's remaining conflict of interest claims because the challenged projects had all been completed, which it held rendered the reverse validation action moot. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of dismissal, holding that allowing plaintiff's claims to proceed long after the projects have been finished would undermine the strong policy of promptly resolving the validity of public agency actions. In this case, the lease-leaseback agreements were subject to validation, and plaintiff's conflict of interest claims necessarily challenge the validity of the agreements, regardless of label or remedy. Because the projects were completed, plaintiff's claims are moot. View "McGee v. Torrance Unified School District" on Justia Law

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Section 6259 of the California Public Records Act governs venue, not jurisdiction, and thus it does not deprive a superior court of subject matter jurisdiction over a public records dispute even if the requested records are not situated in the county where the lawsuit is brought. In this case, although the records sought are not situated in Los Angeles County, the Court of Appeal held that the Los Angeles Superior Court nonetheless has jurisdiction over this action. The court also held that the venue provision of section 6259 does not override Code of Civil Procedure section 401, which provides that if an action may be brought against the state or its agencies in Sacramento, it also may be brought anywhere the Attorney General has an office. Therefore, because this action may be brought in Sacramento County, the court held that it may also be brought in Los Angeles, where the Attorney General has an office. Accordingly, the court directed the trial court to vacate its order transferring this matter to Sacramento County. View "California Gun Rights Foundation v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Count" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging a common count claim for "money lent." The trial court found that plaintiff loaned defendant $874,708.44, which defendant never repaid. Defendant argued that the money came from entities controlled by plaintiff rather than from plaintiff himself. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment against defendant because defendant waived his defense of lack of capacity by failing to assert it at the earliest opportunity. The court also held that the trial court properly concluded that proof of an implied promise to repay was legally sufficient for plaintiff's common count claim. In this case, substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that defendant made such an implied promise. Finally, defendant's statute of frauds argument is meritless. View "Rubinstein v. Fakheri" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts
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Plaintiff David Hester was a reality television star on “Storage Wars.” Plaintiff made the winning bid and purchased the contents of a self-storage unit at an auction held by defendant, Public Storage. Defendant learned it had mistakenly sold the goods about half an hour after the sale was complete. The unit’s occupant had paid his past due rent weeks before the auction, but defendant’s computer system incorrectly marked the unit for sale. Due to this error, defendant immediately rescinded the deal based on two documents plaintiff had signed that contained clauses allowing defendant to void the sale for any reason. Plaintiff claimed defendant’s rescission was invalid and sued for breach of contract and conversion, among other claims. Defendant moved for summary judgment on the contract and conversion claims on grounds it had properly voided the sale under the null and void clauses. The trial court granted defendant’s motion. Plaintiff appealed, arguing summary judgment was inappropriate because the null and void clauses were invalid because: (1) they were precluded by various statutes governing self-storage auction sales; and (2) he agreed to them under duress. After review, the Court of Appeal disagreed, and rejected plaintiff’s argument that defendant was required to file an unlawful detainer action to retake possession of the purchased goods after it rescinded the sale. View "Hester v. Public Storage" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was expelled from USC for committing intimate partner violence against Jane Roe, he petitioned for writ of administrative mandate to set aside the expulsion. The Court of Appeal reversed the superior court's denial of plaintiff's petition, holding that USC's disciplinary procedures at the time were unfair because they denied plaintiff a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine critical witnesses at an in-person hearing. The court explained that, at bottom, this case rests on witness credibility. Given the conflicting statements, the court could not say that the record contains such overwhelming evidence as to render harmless the errors identified in this case. Therefore, the court remanded with directions to the superior court to grant the petition for writ of administrative mandate. View "Boermeester v. Carry" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law
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Under a 2008 consignment agreement, Eloquence would consign jewelry and loose diamonds to HCC for resale. HCC was to send a monthly sales report of each item sold. Upon receipt of that report, Eloquence would prepare an invoice setting forth the payment due from HCC. The Agreement required HCC to pay the invoices within 30 days and provided for a bi-annual reconciliation of the inventory of consigned goods. Following a reconciliation, two invoices dated November 10, 2009, identified “items reported as missing” from an HCC store: 16 pieces of jewelry ($64085). Eloquence gave HCC a five-month extension for payment. Delivery of consigned goods to HCC continued for seven years, totaling $616,633.30 in sales invoices. In 2017, Eloquence sued HCC and its general partners, asserting “breach of written agreement” and “open book account” by failing to pay the November 2009 invoices, in the total amount of $64,085 and that it “furnished to HCC, at its request, on an open book account, merchandise of the agreed value of $64,085. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment. Eloquence’s breach of contract cause of action time-barred because the agreement contemplated a series of discrete transactions each evidenced by a separate invoice. The doctrine of continuous accrual applies; the statute of limitations expired in May 2014. There was no agreement by the parties to enter into an open book accountt. View "Eloquence Corp. v. Home Consignment Center" on Justia Law