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New Cases of Interest - April 23, 2014
Seahaus La Jolla Owners Association v. Superior Court (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 754. This was a construction defect action by a homeowners association against a developer and builder, and the developer and builder sought discovery of communications which the Association's attorney had made to the members as a whole rather than just to its Board of Directors. The trial court granted the motion to compel such responses, but the Court of Appeal reversed issuing a writ of mandate directing a new order include a protective order and deny the motion to compel. The court held that these communications were privileged under the common interest doctrine (Evidence Code §§912(d), 952) and would not likely lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Public policy concerns outweighed the discovery issues involved and the value of the discovery and the Court of Appeal noted that although the Association was a client, the homeowners had a common interest in the context of receiving notice and initiation of the construction defect litigation.
D'Arrigo Brothers of California v. United Farm Workers of America (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 790. An employer filed a breach of contract action against a labor union that represented the employer's workers. The union moved to strike under the SLAPP statute. While the trial court denied the motion, the Court of Appeal reversed with instructions that the motion be granted. The court found that the labor organization had met its burden of proof to demonstrate that the employer's cause of action was one arising from a protected activity because the claim was based on the labor organization's acts of pursuing and assisting the Agricultural Labor Relations Board's general counsel in pursuing allegations that the employer had unlawfully promised benefits to its employees. This was an issue that was unquestionably one under consideration by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board in an official adjudicatory proceeding. Interfering with the Board or its general counsel was an act contrary to the public interest and the court therefore concluded that the employer was unable to demonstrate a probability of prevailing on its breach of contract claim.