Decision in Criminal, Government, Contract & Attorney Fee Matters

By FindLaw Staff on December 29, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles,D056266, concerned a challenge to the the trial court's judgment in favor of the county, on remand of a taxpayer's suit against a county under the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure section 526a, challenging the county's annual payment of employment benefits to judges sitting in the county beyond the salary prescribed by the Legislature and in addition to employment benefits, including health care, disability insurance and life insurance provided to the judges by the state, and following the Legislature's enactment of Senate Bill X2 11, which addressed the constitutional defects in the underlying case.  In affirming, the court held that the legislation fell within the scope of the Governor's proclamation, adequately prescribed in the benefits that must be provided to judges and did not intrude upon any judge's right to equal protection of the law.

People v. Valenzuela, C061539, concerned a challenge to the trial court's determination that defendant was previously convicted of a "serious" felony within the meaning of the three strikes law and thus the prior conviction qualified as a "strike," in a conviction of defendant for second degree burglary and grand theft.  In reversing, the court held that the record contains insufficient evidence to support a finding that defendant's prior conviction for reckless driving was for a serious felony.

Osseous Technologies of Am. Inc. v. DiscoveryOrtho Partners LLC., G042747, concerned a  plaintiff's suit for declaratory relief, in anticipation of a breach of contract suit against the plaintiff for allegedly failing to pay what it owed for services rendered by defendant, arising from a marketing agreement to market plaintiff's products for surgeons and restorative clinicians in dental and sinus surgery sectors.  In affirming the trial court's order sustaining defendant's demurrer to the complaint, the court held that the dismissal was well within the discretion provided by section 1061,as it is likely the ultimate outcome of the current litigation between the parties will be a single judgment fully and finally resolving the parties' dispute without any impact on future conduct, the future impact of any declaratory relief on the parties' behavior is speculative, and the timing of plaintiff's complaint suggests it may have filed the declaratory action for strategic purposes.

Olsen v. Harbison, C058943, concerned a challenge to the trial court's judgment in favor of defendant, in a dispute between two attorneys over the division of fees arising from a representation of a client in a personal injury action, in which the plaintiff-attorney brought in defendant-attorney to aid in the representation.

In affirming, the court held that, although plaintiff might be entitled to quantum meruit from the client, because plaintiff had written retainer agreement with the client, brought defendant into the case with the client's consent, and then was fired by the client, there is no basis for such a claim against the defendant.  The court also held that the trial court did not err in finding that litigation privilege precluded plaintiff's claim for fraud and deceit as, although defendant was not actually involved in the litigation when the alleged statements were made, these communications were linked to ongoing litigation and his participation was imminent.  Also, the trial court properly granted summary judgment on plaintiff's cause of action for interference with contractual relations as the litigation privilege protected defendant's statements.  Lastly, the court held that there was no viable contract on which to base a breach of contract claim against defendant, and no basis to impose a constructive trust.

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