Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - May 6, 2015

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Amis v. Greenberg Traurig LLP (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 331.  This is a legal malpractice action and the Court of Appeal upheld a summary judgment motion by the defendant law firm on the basis that plaintiff's attempts to use communications they had with counsel regarding a settlement agreement which occurred in the course of mediation were inadmissible because of mediation confidentiality, and this lack of evidence precluded the plaintiff from being able to demonstrate the substance of his claim which was that counsel had engaged in acts or omissions during the mediation process which had caused it to enter into the settlement agreement and the damages it contended resulted from that.

Triology at Glen Ivy Maintenance Association v. Shea Homes, Inc. (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 361.  A homeowners association, as well as individual homeowners, contended that a developer breached a fiduciary duty to the association when it caused funds to be diverted under a contract with a provider of broadband communication services.  The developer filed a SLAPP motion which was denied by the trial court and the denial upheld by the Court of Appeal.  The Court held that the alleged breach of fiduciary duty was not one which arose from any form of protected conduct.  The developer had attempted to argue that the complaint's use of the word "repudiate" as part of the allegation related to protected statements which were made during litigation.  The claim the court instead determined was based on developer duties which were breached while the developer controlled the Board of the association, well before the litigation itself began.

Watts v. Oak Shores Community Association (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 466.  This case involved a common interest development where owners sought to rent their homes to short term vacation renters and brought an action challenging regulations and fees adopted by the homeowners association which included an annual fee on owners who rented their homes and a mandatory garbage collection fee.  The court held that the association was entitled to adopt reasonable rules and to impose fees on members relating to short term rentals of condominium units.  Fees were reasonably intended to defray costs which short term rentals imposed on all owners.  That short term renters cost the association more than long term renters or permanent residents was supported by evidence presented, and also "experience and common sense."

Loanvest I, LLC v. Utrecht (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 496.  This is a legal malpractice action in which the defendants brought a SLAPP motion that was granted by the trial court but then reversed by the Court of Appeal.  The malpractice claim brought by plaintiff was not one which met the "arising from" requirement of CCP § 425.16.  When a legal malpractice action is brought by a former client claiming that the attorney had breached fiduciary obligations to the client as a result of a conflict of interest or other deficiency in the representation of the client, that action does not threaten or chill otherwise protected rights in the first prong and in the SLAPP analysis.

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