Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - August 9, 2011

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Bleavins v. Demarest (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1533.  This is a SLAPP case.  In an earlier lawsuit over an easement dispute an insurance company had provided the defendants with a defense, and in the current action the plaintiff was bringing a lawsuit against the defendants’ attorneys.  The attorneys filed the SLAPP motion which was granted as to one cause of action, but denied as to the others.

The Court of Appeal upheld the order as to the portion of the order which had granted the motion to one cause of action, but reversed on all remaining causes of action and remanded to the trial court finding that all of plaintiff’s causes of action arose out of activity protected by the SLAPP statute and that plaintiff was not reasonably likely to prevail on any of the causes of action against the attorneys.  The Court of Appeal concluded that the trial court should have granted the SLAPP motion in its entirety.

Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v. FSI, Financial Services, Inc. (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1559.  This is a case which deals with a bank’s charge-back to its depositor after discovering that a $90,000 check deposited by the customer had been dishonored by a third party bank.  The customer prevailed in the trial court on a promissory estoppel theory that the customer was entitled to retain the $90,000 amount represented by the check because of statements made by the bank to the customer during the time the check was being processed.  The Court of Appeal however reversed and ordered judgment to be entered in favor of the bank, along with attorney’s fees.  The court held that the bank had statutory right under Commercial Code §4214 to initiate the charge-back and there was no evidence that the bank delayed in providing notice to the customer of the check’s dishonor once it was discovered.  Although there was evidence of negligence on behalf of the bank in the bank’s representations to the customer concerning the status of the check, the evidence did not support a conclusion that the customer was harmed to the extent reflected in the judgment.

Global Packaging, Inc. v. Superior Court (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1623.  A license agreement contained a forum selection clause which the trial court interpreted as subjecting one of the parties to jurisdiction in Orange County.  The Court of Appeal reversed in a fairly harsh series of statements criticizing the “sloppy contract drafting” in the contract to be interpreted.  The trial court was not called upon and should not try to stretch a contractual clause beyond its actual words and one of the parties couldn’t be brought into a California court on that basis. 

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