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New Cases of Interest - September 29, 2014
Carlton v. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 1200. This was a suit that was brought for wrongful termination, sex discrimination and breach of contract. The employee then filed an amended complaint after the trial court sustained a demurrer, and the legal issues had to do with the timing of filing a response to that amended complaint and the content of the response. The Court of Appeal held that the statutory 30 day period for filing a response found in CCP §471.5(a) controlled rather than the 10 day filing period set by court rule in CRC 3.1320(j) once the amended complaint was filed. The mailing of the amended complaint added an additional 5 calendar days to the time for filing a response. The Court of Appeal further held that although a demurrer to a breach of contract cause of action previously had been unsuccessful, a second demurrer to that contract claim did not require a motion for reconsideration because the amended complaint superseded as a matter of law the previous complaint in its entirety.
Fonteno v. Wells Fargo Bank NA (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 1358. This is another in a series of mortgage lender cases in which the borrower alleges a wrongful trustee sale and other causes of action arising from a residential foreclosure. The trial court in this case had denied the borrowers' request for preliminary injunction, but in this instance the court of appeal reversed as to the wrongful trustee's sale and the quiet title causes of action. The court held that the borrowers could in fact seek equitable cancellation of the trustee's deed based on alleged noncompliance with federal regulations intended to prevent foreclosures, which regulations had been incorporated into the deed of trust. Tender of the delinquent amount due was not required in that the court viewed that as inequitable. The court did find that the servicing company was not a debt collector and hence an unfair debt collection claim could not be stated.
S.A. v. Maiden (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 27. This is this week's SLAPP case. A husband had filed an action for malicious prosecution, abuse of process and intentional infliction of emotional distress against an attorney who had represented his wife in restraining order proceedings. The SLAPP motion was filed which the trial court granted and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the rule barring malicious prosecution causes of action arising out of family law proceedings also applies to domestic violence restraining order proceedings. The court also found that the husband could not prevail on the abuse of process cause of action because he did not allege that the attorney had misused the "tools of the law." The litigation privilege in Civil Code §47(b) barred an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim arising out of the attorney's litigation conduct.