Shugart v. The Regents of the University of California (2011) 199 Cal. App. 4th 499 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight) [published] — Plaintiff was treated for urinary incontinence and related conditions, first by a Bakersfield physician and, when that treatment proved unsuccessful, by physicians at UCLA Medical Center. Unsatisfied with the outcome of her treatments, plaintiff and her husband sued both the Bakersfield physician and GMSR’s client, The Regents of the University of California, for medical malpractice. Both defendants obtained summary judgment. Although the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment in favor of the other physician, who was represented by other counsel, it affirmed the judgment in favor of The Regents. The appellate court held there was no disputed issue of material fact that would justify a trial as to the alleged liability of the UCLA physician named in plaintiffs’ complaint. As GMSR had argued, the pleadings define the scope of the issues on a summary judgment motion, and plaintiffs’ opposition to The Regents’ summary judgment motion pinpointed the conduct of a physician other than the physician charged in their complaint as the alleged wrongdoer at UCLA Medical Center. And, even as to the uncharged UCLA physician, the appellate court agreed that plaintiffs’ evidence was too conclusory and insubstantial to create a triable issue of fact as to the alleged malpractice
Banks v. Pacific Homes Foundation (2010) 2010 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 1942 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Five) [unpublished] — The petitioner, as successor trustee, sought a determination that a substantial gift to GMSR’s client, Pacific Homes Foundation, had lapsed and that the gift should go instead to residuary beneficiaries, including the trustee. The gift was for the construction of a health care center at the retirement community where the trustors had lived for many years. The probate court agreed with the trustee that the gift had lapsed because by the time the trustors died the center had already been built. In an unpublished decision, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, reversed with directions to enter judgment in the Foundation’s favor. The Court adopted GMSR’s argument that (1) a charitable gift should be construed liberally to effectuate the charitable purpose and (2) the gift had not lapsed because it could still be used to pay down the substantial debt that had been incurred to finance speedier construction of the health care center.
Murphy v. Hansen (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 6975 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One) [unpublished] — After GMSR’s client purchased a Malibu hilltop homesite together with essential access easements, a neighboring landowner challenged the easements’ existence. The multiple disputing parties in two lawsuits entered into a complex written settlement agreement involving transfers of land, easements, trust deeds, and cash—but then could not agree on the interests to be transferred. The trial court nevertheless issued an order enforcing the settlement against GMSR’s client. On appeal from that order the Court of Appeal confirmed that the enforcement did not square with the settlement agreement, setting aside the order and leaving open the question whether the settlement can be enforced at all.
In re Marriage of Feliciano (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 3836 (California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three) [unpublished].
— GMSR’s client Janna Feliciano and musician Jose Feliciano divorced in 1978. Their community property included royalty rights for dozens of Janna’s and Jose’s compositions and Jose’s recordings, including still-popular original works such as Feliz Navidad and covers of other songs such as Light My Fire. Despite numerous court orders and discovery sanctions, Jose never fully accounted to Janna for her share of these royalty rights. In a post-judgment proceeding originally filed in 1996, the trial court denied Janna any claim to certain royalties, found her claim to her share of other royalties barred by statute of limitations, and refused, on procedural grounds, to consider her claim to reimbursement for attorney’s fees and costs she incurred because of Jose’s intransigence.
The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded for reconsideration on all three points. It held that the trial court’s interpretation of the 1978 marital dissolution judgment, which precluded Janna from sharing in certain royalties, was unfounded; that there is no statute of limitations on such claims; and that Janna is entitled to a ruling on the merits of her claim to fees and costs.
Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937 (California Supreme Court) — Emphasizing the strong public policy underlying Business and Professions Code section 16600, the Supreme Court rejected the so-called “narrow restraint” exception to California’s statutory bar on employee covenants not to compete with former employers. Section 16600 voids "every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind . . . ." As GMSR urged on behalf of its employee client, the Supreme Court held that the statute means what it says: A noncompete that would in any way restrain an employee from working for another employer is void. The Court disapproved prior court decisions that held or implied the existence of a “narrow restraint” exception. In addition, as GMSR had advocated, the Supreme Court kept alive the employee’s case on whether an employer can validly require an employee to sign a release of "any and all" claims against the employer as a pre-condition for the employer’s facilitating the employee's transfer to a new job. Although the Supreme Court held that a release of "any and all claims" does not necessarily imply a release of claims that by law cannot be waived, the Court left it open for the employee to prove that the particular release his employer insisted he sign was invalid because the employer knew it was asking him to release claims that the Labor Code says cannot be waived.