Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - June 22, 2016

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Flores v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (2016) 63 Cal.4th 75.  In this case the Supreme Court reverses a prior Court of Appeal decision regarding the applicable statute of limitations in a situation in which a patient fell from a hospital bed when a rail collapsed on that hospital bed.  The Court of Appeal had determined that the statute of limitations which applied to a normal negligence action was applicable instead of the statute which provided to professional negligence cases against healthcare providers.  The Supreme Court reversed and found that the professional negligence statute of limitations period applied reasoning that the injuries resulted from the hospital's alleged negligence in the use and maintenance of equipment integrally related to the patient's medical diagnosis and treatment.  The Court noted that the doctor had ordered that the bed's rails be raised following a medical assessment of the patient's condition, and failure to do this involved negligence occurring in the rendering of professional services to the patient.

Li v. Yan (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 56.  This is interesting because it is the first case I've seen in which the court did not uphold a tax return privilege by an individual resident of California.  In this case, the individual resident was judgment debtor and was subject to order of examination proceedings.  The Court held it was proper to require the judgment debtor to produce his tax returns, although it may be one of those bad facts cases in that the court comments on the debtor's statements being "hard to believe" in a number of respects referencing his examination.

J-M Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. Phillips & Cohen LLP (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 87.  This is a SLAPP case.  A law firm had been sued for defamation and trade libel based on a celebratory post-litigation press release.  The law firm brought the SLAPP motion and the Court of Appeal found that the plaintiff failed to establish a likelihood it would prevail on the merits as the press release was within the permissible degree of flexibility and literary license under the fair report privilege in Civil Code § 47(d).  There is a dissenting opinion in this case.

Daza v. Los Angeles Community College Dist. (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 260.  A guidance counselor sought indemnity from his employer for defense costs arising from an adult student's claim, which was settled, that the counselor had sexually assaulted her when she went to his office for counseling services.  The court held that indemnification was proper in that even though the claim made by the student would fall outside the scope of employment as a matter of law, the counselor filed a cross-complaint against the District which alleged that no sexual assault had occurred, and in support of that allegation offered evidence that the student went to the counselor's office and obtained counseling, which was within the job duties and scope of employment of the counselor.  The determination in Govt. Code § 996.4 as to whether a course of conduct is within scope cannot be limited to simply the third party's allegations in the underlying lawsuit when the employee denies those allegations.

McClatchy v. Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, LLP (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 368.  This is a case involving when a party may be brought into a case as a Doe defendant.  The court found that substantial evidence was present that when the plaintiff filed the original petition he was not ignorant of the facts on which he then subsequently sought to bring in the defendant law firm as a Doe.  The court noted that the plaintiff had sued a former Trustee, who was a member of the law firm and a named partner in the law firm, was aware that the Trustee had used the law firm's office, and there was also law firm letterhead that was used when the Trustee handled affairs of the Trust.

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