Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - March 10, 2014

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Cheal v. El Camino Hospital (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 736.  An employee at a hospital sued her employer on the theories of age discrimination among others after she had been discharged.  Summary judgment was granted for the hospital, but the court of appeal reversed, finding that there were triable issues of fact.  The employee was able to show that she had performed her job in a satisfactory manner, and there were triable issues of fact regarding the number of magnitude of her mistakes, and also "strong evidence" that the Hospital, given its own written policies, anticipated and expected that some mistakes would happen.  The record on summary judgment didn't show that the number of errors attributed to the employee fell outside of the Hospital's anticipated standards.  The uncertainty therefore of the evidence cast doubt on the claim that unsatisfactory performance was the Hospital's nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's discharge, and further, a former friend of the employee's supervisor had stated that the supervisor had told her that she favored younger and pregnant workers which the court found to be admissible under Evidence Code §1230 as a statement against pecuniary legal interest because it jeopardized the declarant's career prospects and exposed her to liability.  This was also sufficient to defeat the motion for summary judgment.

St. Mary v. Superior Court (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 762.  In this case an investor brought a claim for fraud, along with other claims, and in that action some requests for admissions that had been propounded to the investor were deemed admitted with sanctions awarded.  The investor had filed a proposed response four days late, but prior to the hearing on the deemed admitted motion.  Some of the responses were a simple one word "admit" or "deny," while others were more in the way of explanations.  The superior court had found that the responses were not code compliant, and granted the motion as to those responses.  The Court of Appeal issued a writ of mandate finding that the trial court's piecemeal approach was improper and the court was instead required to evaluate the response in its totality and to deny the motion if the proposed response in its totality was substantially compliant.  (CCP §2033.220.)  The court found that the proposed response was substantially compliant noting that it was verified, most of the responses were "compliant" while others had meaningful content, and the responses were served before the hearing on the motion to cause the requests for admission to be deemed admitted.

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