Issue By: Robert W. Lawton Alfonso Ayala v. Randy Dawson Court of Appeal, First District (August 4, 2017) Property owner Randy Dawson and tenant Alfonso Ayala signed a written contract in December, 1999, entitled “Residential Lease with Option to Purchase.” According to Ayala, he paid a “down payment,” “mortgage payments” and a $200/month “fee” in…

Issue By: James F. Regan Jacques Jacobs, et al. v. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company Court of Appeal, Second District (July 25, 2017) Defendant Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company (Coldwell) marketed for sale a vacant, bank-owned property located in Simi Valley. The property had a backyard with an empty swimming pool and diving board. Prior…

Issue By: Rachel R. Ostrander Russell City Energy Co. LLC v. City of Hayward Court of Appeal, First District (August 7, 2017) In Russell City Energy Co. LLC v. City of Hayward, the California Court of Appeals held that a payments clause in a contract between the City and an electric company was unconstitutional because…

Issue By: Vernice T. Louie Joseph Petitpas v. Ford Motor Company, et al. Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, 13 Cal.App.5th 261 (July 5, 2017) Plaintiffs Marline and Joseph Petitpas sued Exxon Mobil Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and numerous other defendants, alleging that Marline developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products. Exxon…

Issue By: Catherine E. Golden Kathleen S. Swigart v. Carl Bruno Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District 8 Cal.App.5th, 529 (June 22, 2017) The California Court of Appeals held that those who choose to engage in an inherently risky activity, such as an endurance horseback riding event, assume the risk of injury. On March 3,…

Issue By: Trevor W. Montgomery Kawika Demara, et al. v. The Raymond Corporation, et al. California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District (July 18, 2017) Kawika Demara was a warehouse employee at the time his foot was crushed under the drive wheel of a Raymond Corporation forklift that was custom made for his employer. He…

Issue By: Joshua K. Bart Tustin Field Gas & Food, Inc. v. Mid-Century Insurance Co. Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (July 3, 2017) In Tustin Field Gas & Food, Inc. v. Mid-Century Insurance Co. (“Tustin”), an insurance coverage dispute involving an underground gasoline storage tank that had developed a crack in its fiberglass sheath,…

Issue By: Nelson E. Rivera Victor Duarte v. Pacific Specialty Insurance Company Court of Appeal, First Appellate District (June 12, 2017) Under the legal principle of “rescission,” an insurance company can rescind an insurance policy if the insured makes “material” misrepresentations or conceals material facts. The insurer in this case unsuccessfully attempted to rescind an…

Issue By: Leeh A. DiBello Bristol-Myers Squibb Company v. Superior Court California, San Francisco County, et al. United States Supreme Court (June 19, 2019) More than 600 plaintiffs (most of whom were not California residents) brought product liability claims against Bristol Myers-Squibb Co. (“BMS”) in a California state court. Plaintiffs alleged personal injuries from ingesting…

Issue By: Charles S. Redfield Carmen Zubillaga v. Allstate Indemnity Company Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District (June 19, 2017) The “genuine dispute doctrine” provides an insurer a defense against a bad faith claim when there is a genuine dispute with the insured as to the existence of coverage or the amount of the insured’s…

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