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New Cases of Interest - April 9, 2012
Mundy v. Lanc (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 1401. This is a SLAPP case. Plaintiff had sued a business owner for an access violation due to disability, and settled that claim with a general release which included a waiver of Civil Code §1542. Thereafter plaintiff brought another action suing the same business owner and the defendant cross-complained for breach of the settlement agreement, false promises, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and abuse of process, suing both the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s attorney. The plaintiff and cross-defendant filed a SLAPP motion. The SLAPP motion was denied with respect to the breach of contract causes of action with the court finding that given the language of the release, the release was sufficient to encompass the harm which plaintiff was now asserting, which could have also been asserted in his earlier lawsuit. The court however reversed the trial court’s order with respect to the fraud and abuse of process claims in an unpublished portion of the opinion.
D.C. v. Oakdale Joint Unified School District (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 1572. This is a case that deals with the claims presentation requirements for a tort claim against the school district. The school district rejected the claimant’s application for leave to present a late claim, but the district’s letter did not inform the claimants of the date when the rejection occurred. Relief was then sought in the superior court less than six months after the date of the letter, but more than six months after the date of the school board meeting in which the application was rejected. The court of appeal found that the claimants should be provided with an opportunity to amend their petition seeking to file a late claim in order to allege estoppel. Because the letter from the school district did not state the date of the rejection decision, it did not satisfy the notice requirements of Government Code §911.8(a)(b).
Kurwa v. Kislinger (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 21. This is a case in which claims for breach of fiduciary duty and an accounting with respect to a joint venture were dismissed. The complaint had alleged that with respect to a joint venture between two doctors who thereafter formed a professional corporation, one of the doctors thereafter allegedly breached his fiduciary duties by abandoning the joint venture and appropriating the venture’s assets to his own benefit. One of the doctors had done this when the other doctor was suspended from practice and the defendant contended that it was no longer possible to continue to carry on the professional corporation’s business. The defendant physician also contended that the formation of the professional corporation terminated any prior joint venture and fiduciary duty. The court of appeal however found that the factual allegations of the complaint stated both a cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty owed by one joint venturer to another and a derivative cause of action on behalf of the joint venture. The case might be unique because of its special fact pattern, but it also contains an interesting analysis of the nature of a joint venture which in this case was deemed to be the parties’ intent to form a new corporate medical practice and the fact that they did so in corporate form rather than partnership form did not mean that they were still not joint venturers.