Rulings in Workers' Compensation, Dependency, Marital Dissolution, and Defamation Cases

By FindLaw Staff on March 01, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The California Court of Appeal for the Second District decided a breach of contract case, a workers' compensation case, an issue of an employer's negligent hiring and retention, and a father's petition in dependency proceedings.

In Diaz v. Carcamo, No. B211127, the court faced a challenge by an employer of one of its drivers involved in an automobile accident arguing that the trial court erred in allowing plaintiff to proceed on theories of negligent hiring and retention of the driver when it had already conceded vicarious liability.

However, affirming the trial court's finding in favor of the plaintiff, the court found that evidence of the employee's prior employment and driving history were properly admitted, that such evidence was not inadmissible as character evidence of the driver, and the jury was properly instructed on negligent hiring and retention.

In Ghadrdan v. Gorabi, No. B210895, the court decided a matter involving breach of contract claims involving a dispute over the ownership of clothing business and commercial property between parties who had been longtime business associates.

In affirming the trial court's ruling to exclude evidence of a plea agreement and conviction of a corporation of which the plaintiff was the CEO and sole shareholder (to impeach plaintiff and show his motive and knowledge), the court held that there was no evidence that plaintiff committed a crime, personally engaged in any of the charged misconduct, or had any knowledge of any misconduct.  Furthermore, the trial court had discretion to exclude it based on its determination that the probative value of the corporate conviction was outweighed by the potential prejudice, waste of time, and confusion.

In Lara v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd., No. B214234, the court decided an issue of whether the plaintiff, who had been hired twice by the employer in the span of 12 months as a gardener, was an employee for purposes of the workers' compensation coverage when he sustained injuries.

Applying the Borello factors, the court affirmed the Board's finding that plaintiff was an independent contractor at the time of his injuries, and thus exempt from worker's compensation coverage.

In re Marcos G., No. B215969, the court faced a challenge to a denial of a father's section 388 petition in dependency proceedings.  The father's main contentions were that his motion should have been granted because he is not the offending parent and because the trial court did not follow proper procedures.

Although, the trial court did not follow certain proper procedures, there was no abuse of discretion in the trial court's denial of the motion as it clearly would not be in the child's best interests to grant the father's request and undo most of the case while the father was in custody of the juvenile court.

The Fourth District dealt with an issue of child and spousal support reallocation in marital dissolution proceeding and a defamation case involving potential liability for forwarding an e-mail with defamatory content.

In MacManus v. MacManus, No. G041248, the court faced a challenge to the reallocation of child support to spousal support in parties' marital dissolution proceeding.  In affirming the order, the court concluded that the trial court had broad discretion to consider the 'big picture' concerning the parties' assets and income available for support and, the record showed that it made the past spousal support award on equitable grounds.

In Phan v. Pham, No. G041666, the court decided the issue of whether a recipient of an e-mail containing defamatory content can be held liable for defamation when the recipient forwards the message along with some language of his/her own in the introduction.

The court first analyzed the facts based on footnote 19 in Barrett v. Rosenthal (2006) 40 Cal.4th 33, which stated that although one cannot be held liable for defamation by simply forwarding an e-mail with defamatory content, at some point active involvement in creating/posting defamatory posting would expose a person to liability as an original source. 

The court held that under Barrett, the defendant had not crossed the line and coupled with the holding in Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley, the defendant had not made material contribution to the alleged defamatory email.

Lastly, in Elliott v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd., No. A125585, the First District clarified the dispute resolution procedure that applies when the employee's physician specifically recommends spinal surgery but the employer's utilization review decision is to deny the treatment. 

In denouncing the holding in Brasher v. Nationwide Studio Fund (2006) 71 Cal.Comp.Cases 1282, and the basis for the Board's finding in favor of the employer, the court reversed the Board's decision and remanded the case directing the employer to authorize the requested surgery or object to the spinal surgery recommendation under section 4062(b) within 10 days of the order to commence the spinal surgery second opinion process.

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