Legal Memos

Harrod v. Country Oak Partners LLC (2024) 15 Cal.5th 939. This was an action in which a skilled nursing facility sought to compel arbitration for a negligence and elder abuse claim. A guardian ad litem had the power to act as a health care agent on behalf of the Plaintiff and had signed an arbitration agreement with the skilled nursing facility. The Court held that a guardian ad litem’s power as a health care agent to make health care decisions for the patient did not encompass the power to sign an optional arbitration agreement, and hence the arbitration provision was not enforceable. The Court suggested that there might be a different answer if the agent had been acting pursuant to a general power of attorney with broader authority.

Williams v. Doctors Medical Center of Modesto Inc. (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 1117. This is a SLAPP matter. This involved a complaint filed by a physician which asserted causes of action arising from a hospital privileges dispute. There had been a prior SLAPP fee order after a voluntary dismissal but the Court found that this did not have preclusive effect because the primary right theory is inapplicable in the SLAPP context and the prior order was unclear as to what actually had been litigated and determined. The only claims being pursued in the second lawsuit were ones which arose from protected activity and therefore outside the SLAPP statute.

Medallion Film LLC v. Loeb & Loeb LLP (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 1272. This is a SLAPP case involving a complaint alleging fraud and related causes of action. The Court of Appeal found that the SLAPP motion should have been denied finding that an attorney’s alleged misrepresentations were not communications made in preparation for or in anticipation of litigation but addressed a dispute as to which litigation was no more than a remote possibility. A separate claim for aiding and abetting fraud also survived because the allegedly wrongful conduct preceded the attorney’s letter and had no connection to protective activity.

Lugo v. Pixior LLC (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 511. This is a SLAPP action involving a motion to strike a malicious prosecution action which alleged that a false report to the police had triggered a criminal prosecution that the prosecutor ultimately dismissed as unproveable. The Court found that the action was outside from the scope of the SLAPP statute because the Defendant’s alleged participation in procuring a criminal prosecution was protected activity and the case had no extraordinary element that would take it outside of that rule.

Dubak v. Itkoff (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 540. The owner of a condominium alleged two of his neighbors in the same building in which the condominium was located had made statements about him that were actionable. The neighbors filed a SLAPP motion. The Court found that for SLAPP purposes the quarrel between the parties was not speech in connection with a public issue. It instead showed a personal feud between the parties. The communications involved also did not contribute to public discussion or public issues.

Sam v. Kwan (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 556. Plaintiff was a non-member manager of a limited liability company. Without informing Plaintiff, the LLC’s managing member sold a parking lot that the LLC had purchased resulting in millions of dollars of profit. Plaintiff sued claiming breach of fiduciary duty as well as other claims. The Court found that the cause of action alleging breach of fiduciary duty would survive a motion for judgment on the pleadings because the Plaintiff adequately alleged harm. Among other things the Plaintiff alleged that the managing member cut off the Plaintiff from participating in the decision to sell the parking lot and from the sales and profits. The Court also found that a claim for breach of the operating agreement survived the motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Gazal v. Echeverry (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 34. Plaintiff alleged that he was deceived into believing a car and a house he had purchased for a destitute family would be titled in the name of the family, not in the name of a non-profit corporation which was founded by the deacon’s wife, and it had been the deacon who had inspired him to make the contribution. The Defendants filed a SLAPP motion which was denied in that the causes of action did not arise from the deacon’s homily for purpose of the SLAPP statute. Although the Plaintiff was inspired to buy the car and the house for the destitute family described in the homily, Plaintiff would have no claims were it not for the Defendant’s conduct of buying the house in the non-profit’s name rather than in the name of the family and using the donation for items never discussed or agreed upon.