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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[06/19] Zubillaga v. Allstate Indemnity Co.
In a first party insurance bad faith action arising out of an automobile accident brought against an insurer alleging breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, the trial court's grant of summary judgment is reversed where plaintiff demonstrated triable issues of material fact regarding whether defendant's decision she did not need expensive epidural steroid injections, was made without a good faith investigation and without a reasonable basis for a genuine dispute.

[06/16] Hilliard v. Harbour
In an elder's suit alleging defendants took or assisted in taking his property for wrongful use, with intent to defraud, or by undue influence, in violation of Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.30(a)(1)(2), a provision of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, the trial court's judgment sustaining defendant's demurrer without leave to amend is affirmed where plaintiff lacked standing to bring this individual action.

[06/13] BPP Illinois v. Royal Bank of Scotland Grp. PLC
In a suit brought by a group of hotel-related businesses, along with their investor and guarantors, alleging fraud claims against a bank and its subsidiaries, the district court's dismissal of the fraud claims is affirmed where the because plaintiffs failed to list their cause of action in a schedule of assets in their now-concluded bankruptcy proceeding, they are barred on judicial estoppel and timeliness grounds.

[06/13] Norman v. Elkin
In a communications company's partnership dispute, arising out of the transfer of partnership assets without compensation, the district court's judgment is: 1) affirmed on alternative grounds the decision to enter summary judgment in defendant's favor on the claim of fraud; and 2) vacated as to judgment in defendant's favor on plaintiff's remaining claims where the District Court erred in concluding that tolling of the statute of limitations is categorically inappropriate when a plaintiff has inquiry notice before initiating a books and records action in the Delaware courts.

[06/12] Microsoft Corp. v. Baker
In a putative class action alleging a design defect in defendant's Xbox 360 video game console, in which the District Court struck plaintiffs' class allegations from the complaint and denied permission to appeal that order under Rule 23(f), the Ninth Circuit's judgment, holding that it had jurisdiction and that the District Court's rationale for striking plaintiffs' class allegations was an impermissible one, is reversed where Federal courts of appeals lack jurisdiction under section 1291 to review an order denying class certification (or, as here, an order striking class allegations) after the named plaintiffs have voluntarily dismissed their claims with prejudice.

[06/12] In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) Products Liability Litigation
In consolidated multi-district litigation arising from contamination of groundwater in Orange County, California from various oil companies' use of the gasoline additive MTBE, the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants on res judicata grounds as a consequence of earlier consent judgments entered in California state court resolving similar suits against defendants brought by the Orange County District Attorney, is vacated and remanded where the record does not sufficiently establish that the Orange County District Attorney and the Orange County Water District-plaintiff were in privity.

[06/08] Johnson v. Perry
In a suit against a principal-defendant of a private high school brought by a student's parent-plainitff, alleging that plaintiff's First Amendment right of freedom of assembly and his state-law right to be free from the intentional infliction of emotional distress were violated by defendant in banning him from attending virtually all school events, on or off school property, because of his opposition to defendant's bullying and harassing efforts to compel plaintiff's daughter to remain a member of the girls varsity basketball team, the district court's judgment is: 1) affirmed in part as to the denial of defendant's motion for qualified immunity, to the extent that he barred plaintiff from entering school property to attend spectator sports contests to which the public was invited, and caused plaintiff's removal from a non-school, privately owned stadium at which Johnson was present as an invitee of the owner; and 2) reversed in part where qualified immunity should have been granted to defendant the extent that he barred plaintiff from entering school property for purposes other than attending sports contests, given the lack of an established First Amendment right of general access to school property.

[06/08] McKeague v. One World Technologies, Inc.
In an appeal arising out of a personal injury case alleging design defect, in which the plaintiff's two lawyers did nothing to prosecute the plaintiff's claims within generous deadlines, received a second chance, and then failed to oppose a pending motion for summary judgment, the district court's refusal to grant yet another reprieve is affirmed where it did not abuse its discretion, because given the failure of plaintiff's lawyers to prosecute his claim and their repeated flouting of reasonable deadlines, the district court demonstrated a reasonable sense of nuance in doing the necessary balancing.

[06/08] Santos-Rodriguez v. SeaStar Solutions
In a suit brought by a plaintiff, who was injured in a boating accident when a corroded rod end that was part of the boat's steering mechanism failed, against the manufacturer of the boat's steering mechanism, alleging a design defect and a failure to warn, the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff cannot prove that any failure to warn caused his injuries; 2) plaintiff cannot prove that any design defect in the steering rod caused his injuries; and 3) plaintiffs' derivative claims cannot survive.

[06/07] Brenner v. Universal Health
In an action for wrongful death based on medical negligence, retaliation, Health and Safety Code section 1278.5, and elder abuse, Welfare and Institutions Code sections 15610, et seq., the trial court's grant of summary judgment to defendants is affirmed where the trial court properly granted summary judgment with respect to all of the claims asserted against the defendants involved in this appeal.

[06/07] Safar v. Tingle
In a suit under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and state tort law, arising out of the arrest and incarceration of plaintiffs based on an allegation of fraud that was mistakenly reported by Costco and almost immediately retracted, against the police officer and prosecutor who, at different stages of the criminal process, learned that no crime had occurred and yet failed to take steps to withdraw an arrest warrant, the district court's judgment is: 1) affirmed in part as to grant of immunity to defendants on the section 1983 claim; and 2) reversed in part as to plaintiffs' claim for gross negligence under Virginia law, where, at this stage, the truth of their pleadings must be assumed, and the horrific sequence of events they have alleged weighs in favor of remanding without prejudice so they can pursue their claims in state court.

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