California Practice Tips

Forum Non Conveniens: The Iran Dilemma

John Cu 
John Cu
March 3, 2015

While you would ordinarily expect a lawsuit between citizens of country A regarding the ownership of property in Country A would be venued in Country A, this is not necessarily true where Country A happens to be Iran.

In Aghaian v. Minassian, 14 C.D.O.S. 1594, plaintiffs are heirs of Gagik Galstian and Knarik Galstian who owned a number of properties in Iran but were forced to abandon them in 1978 when the family fled to Los Angeles after the overthrow of the Shah.  Plaintiffs are women and non-Muslim.

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Are All Responses To Requests For Admission Admissible At Trial?

Eric Junginger 
Eric Junginger
February 23, 2015

Under California law, admissions in response to Requests for Admission (“RFA”) are binding on the admitting party at trial.  [CCP §2033.410.]  But, are denials of RFAs also admissible at trial?  In Gonsalves v. Li, California’s appellate court for the first time said no.

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Court Limits Binding Effect Of E-Signatures

tjb 
1
February 9, 2015

A recent decision, J.B.B. Investment Partners, Ltd. v. Fair, addresses the interesting intersection between two statutes that affect when an e-mail binds the sending party: CCP 664.6 gives courts the authority to enforce a  settlement provided certain requirements are met. Civil Code 1633.1 et seq., better known as the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA), allows for the use of electronic signatures on, for example, an e-mail, to bind a party in certain situations.

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Court of Appeals Strikes Exception to Arbitration

Neil Bardack 
Neil Bardack
December 29, 2014

A California appellate court recently fell into line with federal courts in recognizing the Federal Arbitration Act’s preemption of agreements to arbitrate in McGill v. Citibank, N.A, holding that plaintiffs who bring claims for injunctive relief under state consumer statutes can be forced to arbitrate those claims.

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Coming soon? New Ethics Rules

Michele Trausch 
Michele Trausch
November 11, 2014

Those following this saga will recall that nearly 10 years ago a commission began working on revisions to California’s Rules of Professional Conduct. California is the only one of the 50 states and the District of Columbia which hasn’t adopted some version of the American Bar Association Model Rules. The commission’s directive was to make our ethical rules more in line with those followed by the rest of the nation. After many years, revised rules were submitted to the California Supreme Court, which must approve them.

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How Soon Should You Withdraw a Motion That Becomes Moot?

Michele Trausch 
Michele Trausch
November 3, 2014

In Evilsizor v. Sweeney (14 C.D.O.S. 12327), the answer was ASAP!

In a contentious dissolution proceeding, a husband sought documents by subpoena from his wife’s bank account, not knowing that his wife’s father’s financial information was contained in the records sought.

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How to Tell the Difference Between Negotiations and Extortion

Michele Trausch Neil Bardack 
Michele Trausch and Neil Bardack
September 22, 2014

The court of appeal in Stenehjem v. Sareen, 226 Cal.App.4th 1405 (2014) recently revisited the question of when aggressive or belligerent pre-litigation negotiations cross the line from “veiled threats” to criminal extortion. Once determined to be the crime of extortion, the statements are not protected speech under the litigation privilege in Civ. Code section 47 or under the anti-SLAPP statute in Code Civ. Proc. Section 425.16. But how do you know in advance where that line is?

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Go Ahead, Encourage Your Client to Accept a Good Settlement

John Cu 
John Cu
August 14, 2014

Moua v. Pittullo, Howington, Barker, Abernathy, LLP (2014) Cal.App.4th
[summary judgment affirmed in case where client did not follow attorney’s settlement advice]

Plaintiff rejected a settlement offer from her former spouse in a family law case, after her lawyers (Pittullo) had “strongly” and repeatedly advised her to take the settlement due to low chances of her prevailing.

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Attorneys’ Fee Awards Can Exceed Fees Actually Billed

John Cu 
John Cu
July 24, 2014

Sayers Properties III, Inc. v. Rankin, 2014 WL2192362 (Cal.App.1st District)

Plaintiff sued defendants for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty arising out of defendants’ representation of plaintiff in a construction defect case, which lasted over seven years. After the court granted the defendants’ nonsuit motion, defendants sought their attorneys’ fees as the prevailing parties pursuant to the attorney-client fee agreement, in the amount of $843,245.27 (2,324.5 hours of attorney and paralegal time spent defending the construction case).

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