Developments of Interest

Cases of Interest - July 6, 2015

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 Verdugo v. Alliantgroup, L.P. (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 141.  An employee had a forum selection clause (Texas was the contractual venue) in an employment agreement and an employer moved to stay a wage and hour lawsuit based upon that clause.  The court of appeal held that the employer bore the burden of being able to show that litigating the wage and hour claims in the designated forum did not diminish in any way the employee's substantive rights under California law in that the substantive rights could not be waived per Labor Code § 219(a) and 1194(a).  The employer was unable to establish that a Texas court would apply California law or that the forum selection would not diminish the employee's unwaivable statutory rights.  Texas was therefore not a suitable forum, and the forum selection clause violated California public policy.

Doe v. Superior Court (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 239.  This is a case in which a child and her parents sued a church camp alleging that the camp had fraudulently concealed information about a camp employee's suspected molestation of the child at its summer camp.  Among the causes of action pled were causes of action for intentional concealment and negligent concealment of this employee information.  The trial court sustained a demurrer by the defendant to those causes of action, but the court of appeal reversed, finding that disclosure of a suspected molestation of a child was part of the camp's duty to act reasonably and prevent harm.  The camp in being a day care provider created a special relationship which imposed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm to a child attending the camp.  Although the camp knew that its employee had an inappropriate interest in young girls from previous employment with the camp, it rehired him nonetheless to supervise children.  The special relationship which the camp had created gave rise to a duty to exercise reasonable control in the behavior of the hired employee given the camp's knowledge.  This duty encompassed a duty to disclose a creditable report of harm suspected to have already occurred.

Davis v. Fresno Unified School District (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 261.  A school district and a contractor filed a demurrer to a taxpayer complaint which challenged a noncompetitive bid for the construction of a middle school.  The court of appeal reversed the sustaining of a demurrer, finding that the taxpayer had adequately alleged causes of action based on noncompliance with the lease-leaseback exception in Education Code § 17406(a)(1) and the competitive bidding provisions of Education Code § 17417 and Public Contract Code § 20111.  The complaint included an allegation that a lease-leaseback transaction was nothing more than a traditional construction agreement without a financing component.   

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