Decisions in Criminal, Education, Administrative, Government Contracts & Tort Matters

By FindLaw Staff on January 03, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Speilman v. Ex'Pression Ctr. for New Media, A122357, concerned plaintiffs' suit against defendant-private postsecondary educational institution, which offers courses in sound arts, digital visual medial, and Web design and development, for violation of Education Code former sections 94312, 94832, and 94875, as well as various other causes of action, claiming that defendant made certain misrepresentations to them, including that it would soon be nationally accredited, that they would graduate from the school with degrees from a nationally accredited institution, that their degrees and credits would be transferable to other accredited institutions.

The court reversed the judgment of the trial court in part where: 1) defendant's argument that plaintiffs' claims have been abated by the repeal of the Reform Act, including section 94877, effective January 1,2008 is rejected; and 2) there is nothing in the statutes under consideration that would invite or countenance the addition of elements that are not contained in the plain language, particularly where the law expressly states that the remedies provided supplement, but do not supplant, the remedies provided under other provisions of law.  The court affirmed in part as, the trial court properly sustained the demurrer to the first cause of action of the second amended complaint as to the demurrer plaintiffs.  Further, because there is sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that the directed verdict plaintiffs owed the disputed amounts to defendant, trial court properly denied plaintiffs' motion for directed verdict.

People v. James, F057974, concerned defendant's challenge to the trial court's admission of evidence of a prior instance of domestic violence against the victim and evidence of a prior act of domestic violence against one of defendant's former girlfriends, in a prosecution of defendant for first degree burglary.  In affirming, the court held that Evidence Code section 1109 allows for the admission of evidence of a defendant's commission of prior acts of domestic violence as propensity evidence when the defendant is accused of "an offense involving domestic violence," and here, "an offense involving domestic violence" may include the crime of burglary.

Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition, LLC v. Town of Mammoth Lakes, C059239, concerned a challenge to the jury's finding that defendant-town breached a development agreement and an award of $30 million in damages to the plaintiff-developer, in the developer's suit against a town for anticipatory breach of contract.

In affirming, the court held that administrative mandamus is not the exclusive remedy, under the circumstances of this case, where there has been an anticipatory breach of the development agreement not involving a quasi-judicial determination.  The court also held that the three clauses of the development agreement do not provide a defense to the plaintiff's breach of contract action, and that the plaintiff established a breach attributable to the town by evidence of the actions of town officials, acting within their authority.  The court held that evidence of damages in the form of lost profits was not too speculative to support the $30 million damages award.  Lastly, the court held that the town's contention that the award of attorney fees must be reversed is without merit because the town's sole argument for reversal of the attorney fees award is that it was based on the plaintiff's status as the prevailing party.

Lawson v. Safeway, Inc., A125209, concerned plaintiffs' suit against Safeway, a driver of a Safeway truck, the driver of a pickup, and the State of California, arising from an automobile accident on a U.S. highway, allegedly caused by the illegally parked Safeway tractor trailer on the highway.  In affirming the jury verdict awarding substantial damages to the plaintiffs and apportioning 35 percent fault to Safeway, and 35 percent to the State of California, and 30 percent to the driver of the pickup, the court held that a duty to park safely, as well as legally, was owed because of the particular facts of this case, where the parked vehicle was a 65-foot long, 12-1/2 foot tall, 8 1/2-foot wide commercial truck and the evidence showed that the drivers of such trucks are or should be professionally trained to be aware of the risk of blocking other drivers' sight lines when parking, the truck was parked at a high-speed well-traveled intersection, and a safe parking spot was available right around the corner.

Greenspan v. LADT, LLC, B222539, concerned a challenge to the trial court's denial of plaintiff's motion to amend the judgment to add the manager, the trustee, and two other affiliated companies as judgment debtors, in proceedings to satisfy an $8.45 million judgment against defendant's companies for breach of contract.  In reversing, the court held that it would not always be inequitable to add as a judgment debtor a party who prevailed in an arbitration, but rather, it would depend on the facts of the case, and here, the manager was not sued for breach of contract and did not prevail on that claim, and the addition of the manager as a judgment debtor would not constitute a finding that he breached the companies' contract, but would instead serve to remedy his alleged disregard of the companies' separate existence.  Further, although a trust is not subject to the alter ego doctrine because it is not a legal entity, a trustee may be added as a judgment debtor.  Lastly, the court held that, with certain exceptions, the trial court erred in sustaining the objections to plaintiff's evidence.

California Sch. Boards Ass'n v. State Bd. of Educ., C061328, concerned a challenge to the validity of various regulations adopted by the State Board of Education (State Board) pertaining to a public school district's sharing of its facilities with charter schools, pursuant to a voter approved Proposition 39.  The court affirmed the trial court's judgment upholding the majority of the challenged regulations and reversed the portion of the trial court's judgment setting aside several of the regulations, in holding that the regulations, in their entirety, were valid. 

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