Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - October 21, 2014

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Patterson v. Domino's Pizza, LLC (2014) 60 Cal.4th 474.  In this case the Supreme Court reverses a judgment of the Court of Appeal, and determines that the franchisor had no potential liability on a sexual harassment claim which was brought by a franchisee's employee alleging misconduct by a supervisor.  The franchise contract allocated personnel issues almost exclusively to the franchisee, and although the franchisor's area leader advised franchisees on training and other matters, this was insufficient to create a right of general control over the franchisee's day to day operations, and given the absence of a direct employment relationship, the franchisor had no liability or responsibility for the franchisee's employee's claims.

Yau v. Allen (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 144.  This is a wrongful termination in violation of public policy and intentional infliction of emotional distress action.  The court finds that the claim was sufficiently tethered to a public policy violation by the employee's allegation that he had been terminated after complaining about fraudulent warranty claims, because that was sufficient to conjure up the Penal Code sections involving theft and fraud even though the plaintiff acknowledged that he had participated in the alleged warranty fraud.  The intentional infliction of emotional distress cause of action however was dismissed with the court finding that the exclusivity provisions of the Workers Compensation Act encompassed that claim.

Cruz v. Kroger Company (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 215.  This is an employee/employer arbitration case in which the employee alleges employment discrimination and the employer seeks arbitration.  The court found that the arbitration clause in the employment application was sufficient to establish that the parties had agreed to arbitrate employment-related disputes.  However, the employment application did not provide specificity as to what arbitration proceedures would be used, and the court concluded that the procedures to be followed were those contained under the California Arbitration Act, CCP §1280 et seq.

Parrish v. Latham & Watkins (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 264.  This is a SLAPP case.  A SLAPP motion had been filed in connection with a malicious prosecution action.  The Court of Appeal found that the applicable statute of limitations was a two year time frame, for wrongful acts, not the one year time frame for legal malpractice.  The court also denied the SLAPP motion on the basis that the plaintiff was able to show a probability of prevailing on the merits because the law firm had previously sought an anti-competitive injunction in an underlying action which was lacking in legal or factual basis.

Jade Fashion & Company v. Harkham Industries, Inc. (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 635.  In this case the parties had entered into a series of purchase orders but the buyer had fallen behind in payment and the parties then entered into a subsequent written agreement regarding the repayment of the debt.  The court found that the discount provision in the agreement was not an unenforceable penalty or forfeiture because the agreement obligated the buyer to pay off the entirety of the original debt in weekly installment payments and entitled it to a discount only if the installment was timely paid.  The buyer failed to fully perform and remained liable therefore to the seller for the full amount of the debt.

Timed Out, LLC v. Youabian, Inc. (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 1001.  This is an action involving an assignment of the right of publicity in which the assignee then brought an action alleging unauthorized use of models' images in connection with advertising cosmetic medical services.  The Court of Appeal held that the right of publicity although personal in nature is assignable by the owner during the owner's lifetime within the broad rule of assignability contained in Civil Code §§953 and 954. 

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