Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - March 16, 2020

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03/16/2020

Hansel Phelps Construction Company v. Superior Court (2020) 44 Cal.App.5th 595.  This was a case that turned on the question of when a project reached substantial completion so as to trigger the statute of limitations for construction defects.  The court held that the notice of completion date did not necessarily control, although it was evidence of when substantial completion occurred.  If the improvement had, however, been substantially completed at an earlier date, that was appropriate information for the court to consider and the issuance of a certificate of completion did not conclusively establish the date of substantial completion, which was a factual issue.

Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company v. SMG Holdings, Inc. (2019) 44 Cal.App.5th 834.  This was a case which deals with an arbitration provision that a property manager was not a party to but was found to be bound by.  The court got there by noting that the property manager was an intended third party beneficiary pursuant to which the lessee of space at a convention center was obligated to name the management company as an additional insured, and after a lawsuit was initiated the management company tendered its defense of the lawsuit arising from an injury at the event to the lessee’s insurer, and the insurer therefore could compel arbitration because the management company having sought the policy’s benefits was now equitably estopped from denying the policy’s arbitration provision.

Jeppson v. Ley (2020) 44 Cal.App.5th 845.  This is a SLAPP case.  The issue was whether the matter rose to a level of “public interest”.  Two neighbors were engaged in a feud and one neighbor’s dog killed the other neighbor’s cat.  A settlement was reached with a non-disparagement provision included in a written agreement but one of the parties posted a hostile message on the neighborhood blog about the other party who then responded by bringing a lawsuit.  The party who posted the message filed a SLAPP motion.  The trial court denied the motion, and the denial was affirmed by the court of appeal, holding that the statements did not qualify as a matter of public interest but addressed only a private neighborhood dispute.  

 
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