Decisions in Criminal, Trust, Labor and anti-SLAPP Matters

By FindLaw Staff on December 15, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

People v. Lieng, A125373, concerned a challenge to defendants' respective convictions for cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale.  In affirming, the court held that the trial court was correct in finding the area of the defendant's property searched on two occasions falls outside the curtilage of that property, and the court did not err in denying defendants' motion to suppress on that ground.  Further, the use of the night vision goggles by an officer on defendant's property did not constitute a "search" in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  Lastly, the court held that the trial court properly denied the motion to quash the warrant as the search of the defendant's property was not an illegal warrantless search, and the trial court properly denied defendants' motion to traverse.

Overhill Farms, Inc. v. Lopez, G042984, concerned a frozen food manufacturer's suit against its former employees and a community activist for defamation, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, intentional interference with contractual relations, extortion, and unfair competition, arising from a determination by the IRS that 231 of plaintiff's then-current employees had provided invalid social security numbers.  In affirming the trial court's grant of defendant's anti-SLAPP motion as to the unfair competition claim only, the court held that, although the defendants carried their burden of showing plaintiff's claims arose out of protected activity, plaintiff demonstrated a probability of prevailing on its claims because they are based on a provably false statement of fact.  The court also held that the trial court did not err in refusing to strike plaintiff's remaining causes of action, and that the defendants failed to demonstrate the trial court's evidentiary rulings amounted to reversible error.

Fazzi v. Klein, G042684, concerned a challenge to the trial court's order granting "safe harbor" to plaintiff's son to file a proposed petition in probate court challenging plaintiff's status and actions as trustee of two trusts in which the son is a beneficiary.  In reversing the judgment, the court held that the trial court erred in finding that the trust's "no contest" clause did not apply to the subtrusts and the proposed petition did not constitute a "contest" under the terms of that clause.  However, the court held that the trial court correctly concluded that the son's request to remove plaintiff as trustee "for cause" did not violate the "no contest" clause because the trust does not prohibit an action to remove an individual trustee, for cause or otherwise.

County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Employee Relations Comm'n, B217668, concerned a challenge to the trial court's denial of a petition for writ of administrative mandamus brought by the County of Los Angeles, Chief Executive Office, asserting the privacy rights of non-union member county employees and challenging a decision by the Los Angeles County Employees Relations Commission that ordered the county to release their names, home addresses, and home telephone numbers to the union.

In reversing the denial, the court remanded with directions to enter a new order denying the petition but directing the county to give non-member employees notice and an opportunity to object before disclosure of their personal information to the union where: 1) non-member county employees who have not disclosed their personal information to the union are entitled to notice and an opportunity to object before disclosure; 2) when third-party information has been ordered disclosed in civil litigation, the California Supreme Court recognizes that privacy notices and opt-out procedures sufficiently strike a balance between the right to the information and the rights of third parties to control the dissemination of their personal information, and non-member county employees are entitled to these same procedural protections; 3) county employees have a reasonable expectation that the personal information they provide to their employer will remain confidential and not disseminated without notice; and 4) non-member county employees do not forfeit their privacy rights by accepting employment with a public agency whose employees have a collective right to unionize but an individual right not to join.

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