Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - December 30, 2011

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Peninsula Gardens v. Peninsula Health Care District (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 1108.  This is a SLAPP case in which a health care district sought to strike a public interest group’s complaint which alleged that the Health Care District had made prohibited campaign expenditures with public funds without legislative authorization.  The funds were used to distribute a newsletter and postcards to inform residents about a ballot measure that would authorize the construction of a new hospital.  The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision and directed that an order be entered granting the motion to strike and dismissing the action.  The court held that the nature of the publications provided by the Health Care District supported the conclusion that they were informational as a matter of law and not improper campaign materials.  Although those materials did convey the District’s view as to the importance of a hospital, they were “moderate in tone” and the District was not required to publish opposing views.  The court concluded as a result the public interest group had no probability of prevailing on its claim.

Malek v. Koshak (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 1540.  The trial court issued a $1.7 million restitution order as part of an indirect contempt proceeding, as well as jail time and fines.  The order was reversed by the appellate court finding that the trial court’s order violated due process principals in both the State and Federal Constitution in that the indirect contempt proceeding did not provide the defendant with adequate and reasonable notice that the trial court intended to rely on evidence presented in that proceeding to consider entering a restitution order in a substantial amount.  The only prior notice that that defendant had received was that there was notice given he could be jailed, fined, and ordered to pay the receiver’s attorney’s fees, but not that the testimony and evidence to be produced would also be the basis for a restitution order.

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