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New Cases of Interest - February 24, 2015
Gonsalves v. Li (2015) 232 Cal.App.4th 1406. This is an interesting case involving a discovery issue and whether a party's denials of requests for admissions may be admitted into evidence at trial. The Court of Appeal held that they could not be so admitted, finding that the California statutory scheme expressly authorized use of depositions and interrogatories at trial, but did not provide for such use for responses regarding requests for admissions as to denials of requests for admissions. Those therefore cannot be introduced into evidence at trial absent allegations of inconsistency between the discovery responses and trial testimony. The denials were not admissible to impeach a party's credibility by attempting to show what his attitude toward litigation was because litigation conduct was not deemed to be a legitimate subject for inquiry in ordinary cases.
Save Westwood Village v. Luskin (2014) 233 Cal.App.4th 135. This is a SLAPP case. A charitable foundation acted as a conduit through which individuals could make tax exempt gifts to benefit UCLA. Two individual directors were also named in the action. The foundation and the two directors brought a SLAPP motion in a petition for writ of mandate initiated by another nonprofit corporation and two taxpayers which sought to rescind a donation which was going to be applied toward the construction of a conference center which the appellants indicated had "morphed" into the development of a commercial hotel. A SLAPP motion was filed by the respondents, which was granted and upheld on appeal. The Court of Appeal reasoned that the public interest exemption (CCP § 425.17(b)) did not preclude application of the SLAPP statute because there was no public right or interest that could be enforced against the foundation and the donors to the foundation inasmuch as they did not owe the general public any duty to prevent any alleged commercial activities. The pledge letters and donations were protected activities concerning issues of public interest under CCP § 425.16(e)(4). The Court also found no probability that the plaintiffs would have prevailed in their action.