Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - February 9, 2015

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Swanson v. Morongo Unified School District (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 954.  This is a case involving a probationary teacher who while in that status was diagnosed with breast cancer and took related medical leave.  She contended that the district failed to reasonably accommodate her cancer-related health concerns and conditions and failed to engage a good faith interactive process to identify a reasonable accommodation.  The court reversed the granting of a summary judgment by the trial court in favor of the district, remanding the matter and determining that the teacher had raised a triable issue of material fact on her claim of medical condition discrimination by presenting evidence that the district began a course of conduct designed to "set her up for failure" by giving her difficult assignments without the necessary resources so they could later use performance as a pretext for a decision not to renew her probationary contract.  Her probationary status did not operate to protect the district from an allegation of unlawful discrimination.  The district additionally failed to meet its burden of having engaged in the interactive process contemplated by law.

J.B.B. Investment Partners Ltd. vs. Fair (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 974.  This was a motion to enforce a settlement agreement pursuant to CCP § 664.6.  The court determined that there was not an electronic signature within the meaning of the California Uniform Electronic Transactions Act on the settlement agreement and that the exchange of email messages between the parties while showing that they agreed to negotiate the terms of the settlement by email, did not demonstrate that the parties ever agreed to conduct transactions by electronic means or that the printed name at the end of an email was an electronic signature to the offer of settlement.  There was additional evidence to indicate that one of the parties did not intend for his email to be a signature to the settlement agreement.  Given that not all parties signed the settlement agreement, it was error to enforce the settlement agreement.
Satyadi v. West Contra Costa Healthcare District (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 1022.  An employee alleged that she had been fired in retaliation for reporting and refusing to participate in an alleged illegal activity conducted on behalf of the employer.  The trial court dismissed on the basis that the employee had not filed a complaint with the Labor Commissioner under Labor Code § 98.7 before bringing her action.  The court of appeal reversed and remanded.  The court found that filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner was not required before the employee could bring a civil action because statutory amendments enacted after the case was filed clarified that administrative exhaustion was not required, and this was not an issue of retroactivity but simply a clarification.
State Ready Mix, Inc. v. Moffatt & Nichol (2015) 232 Cal.App.4th 1227.  A general contractor sued a contract supplier for the costs of replacing defective concrete.  The concrete supplier in turn sued by way of cross-complaint for equitable indemnity and contribution a civil engineer which was hired by the project manager of the contractor.  The civil engineer demurred to the second amended cross-complaint which was sustained.  The court found that the concrete supplier could not seek equitable indemnity or contribution for damages caused by a breach of its own contract and the civil engineer may have acted as a "good Samaritan" in approving the concrete mix design but he did not have a continuing duty to ensure that the concrete supplier mixed his concrete properly.

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