Legal Memos

Leon v. County of Riverside
(2023) 14 Cal.5th 910. This is a case that makes it to the California Supreme Court on the issue of public entity immunity and the immunity of agents of a public entity. Plaintiff’s husband was shot and killed in the driveway of a mobile home lot near his home, and when sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene additional shots were heard, resulting in the deputies dragging the husband behind a vehicle where they unsuccessfully attempted to revive him. Dragging him behind the vehicle caused his pants to slide down to his ankles exposing his naked body. His body remained in that uncovered position for approximately eight hours. Plaintiff, the widow, sued the County asserting a single cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The County raised an immunity defense and the Court found that the absolute immunity of Government Code § 821.6 did not apply because the Complaint did not allege harms from the institution of prosecution of judicial or administrative proceedings. Other provisions such as Government Code § 810 may apply and the Court remanded for that determination.

Law Finance Group, LLC v. Key (2023) 14 Cal.5th 932. This is a Request to Vacate an arbitration award that makes it to the Supreme Court. The Request to Vacate was timely in response to a Petition to confirm the award, but it was filed outside the 100 day deadline to request vacatur. The Court held that the Request was untimely because the 100 day deadline was a statutory boundary, even when it was a response to the Petition to confirm, but that this deadline in CCP § 1288.2 is a non-jurisdictional statute of limitations subject to equitable tolling and equitable estoppel and the Court remanded to the Trial Court on that issue.

Blaylock v. DMP 250 Newport Center, LLC (2023) 92 Cal.App 5th 863. In this case an independent contractor’s employee fell through an access panel in the floor of a crawl space on a landowner’s building and the landowner and property manager were sued by the injured employee. The Court held that the landlord and the property manager had no liability for the injury because there was no evidence that they knew the panel might present a hazard to the worker and the panel’s hazardous nature was not concealed from the worker and the contractor who employed the worker could have ascertained the hazard and addressed it through reasonable precautions if the contractor had inspected the premises for safety issues. Inadequate lighting in the crawl space did not cause the panel to be a concealed hazard because the lack of lighting was a known hazard and the contractor had a duty to ensure that the workspace was adequately lit to ensure worker safety, meaning that that duty did not fall on the landowner and the property manager.

Divine Food & Catering, LLC v. Western Diocese of Armenian Church of North America (2023) 92 Cal.App.5th 1048. This is a SLAPP matter with a commercial tenant bringing a malicious prosecution complaint alleging that the landlord had lacked probable cause to bring an earlier unlawful detainer action in which tenant had prevailed. The landlord had denied the existence of a written lease and the Court found that the written lease was in fact in existence and granted judgment for the tenant. The tenant alleged that the landlord had no probable cause to bring the unlawful detainer action because it knew there was a valid written lease which it had attempted to conceal. The landlord contended that the Unlawful Detainer Court had made some statements early in the trial that the landlord had made a “prima facie” case for an oral month-to-month lease but the Court of Appeal held that was not an actual judgment or ruling on a dispositive motion. That evidence should not have been considered as a result and in addition the tenant had made an adequate showing for SLAPP motion purposes that the Unlawful Detainer Court’s comments were the products of the fraud and perjury actions of the landlord and that the interim adverse judgment rule did not apply in that the tenant had shown that the landlord’s concealment of evidence caused any prior interim court findings.


Related Attorney(s):
Gregory L. McCoy