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New Cases of Interest - July 11, 2016
Rand Resources, LLC v. City of Carson (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 1080. This is a SLAPP case. Rand Resources, LLC entered into an exclusive agency agreement with the City of Carson pursuant to which Rand Resources was the sole and exclusive agent of the city for a two-year period for the purpose of coordinating and negotiating with the National Football League for the designation and development of a National Football League stadium in that city. Plaintiff alleged that it performed diligently under the terms of the exclusive agency agreement and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and a significant amount of time. Plaintiff contended that in April of 2003 the city stopped adhering to the terms of the agency agreement and allowed another agent to begin to act as the city's agent with respect to the stadium development. Plaintiff ultimately filed a complaint and then a first amended complaint with multiple causes of action, including claims for tortious breach of contract, promissory fraud, fraud, intentional interference with contract and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. The defendants consisting of the second agent and the City of Carson filed their SLAPP motions. The motions were granted by the trial court, but reversed by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal found that the defendants' actions as alleged in the first amended complaint did not arise from an act in furtherance of their right of free speech or petition, nor were they in connection with an issue of public interest and therefore fell outside of the scope of the SLAPP statute. The tortious breach of contract action was not premised upon protected activity, but upon the city's conduct in not caring out its contract. The causes of action for fraud did not pertain to communications involving a public issue but instead related to private commercial conduct.
Bertsch v. Mammoth Community Water Dist. (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 1201. This was an action that arose from a skateboarding accident in which the skateboarder hit a small gap on a paved road, fell and hit his head on the pavement. The court held that plaintiff could not state a claim against the road owner and the Water District under the doctrine of primary assumption of risk, and it didn't matter if the skateboarder was engaged in an organized skateboarding activity, or attempting high risk maneuvers, because the act of skateboarding is enough by itself to give rise to the doctrine of primary assumption of risk.