Another chapter on punitive damages: California’s Bullock v. Philip Morris

Posted by Steven Vartabedian on

Since the United States Supreme Court decided State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Campbell (2003) 538 U.S. 408, legal scholars have debated the use of the corporate defendant’s wealth and prior conduct in assessing punitive damages, and the stringency/flexibility of the high court’s stated constitutional limitations (“few awards exceeding a single digit ratio between […]

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Collateral source rule in California: injured plaintiffs barred recovery of value of medical services in excess of bargained rate paid by insurance

Posted by Steven Vartabedian on

The California Supreme has filed its opinion after months of speculation in the legal community about the reach of the collateral source rule. In Howell v. Hamilton Meats (filed August 18, 2010), the court held an injured plaintiff whose medical expenses are paid through private insurance may recover as economic damages no more that the […]

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Is that “sabbatical” in your employment contract really a “vacation?”

Posted by Steven Vartabedian on

Employers should know the answer to this question is particularly important when an employee leaves and claims a right to deferred compensation. California Labor Code sections 227.3 require employers to pay employees the balance of “vested vacation time” unused as wages. The California Supreme Court has explained what is meant by vested vacation time: whatever […]

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JLo wins right to arbitrate claim ex-husband and agent plan video disparaging her

Posted by Steven Vartabedian on

Long before there was Marc Anthony, there was Ojani Noa. Now that Jennifer Lopez is apparently amicably ending her 7-year marriage to Marc Anthony, the battle with her first husband, Noa continues. Lopez requested arbitration of the complaint she filed against Noa and his agent Ed Meyer regarding their collaborative attempts to produce and sell […]

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Employee handbook not a good place for an arbitration clause: ruled unenforceable as “take it or leave it”

Posted by Steven Vartabedian on

We have here yet another opinion where an arbitration clause strikes out. Not surprising, in the light of the California Supreme Court “crack-down” more than a decade ago in Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychcare Services, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 83, 114. Zullo v. Superior Court (filed June 21, 2011, certified for publication July 12, 2011) […]

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Sophisticated legal client who fails to read unexplained fee arbitration clause loses challenge to motion compelling arbitration

Posted by Steven Vartabedian on

Client is represented by attorney under fee agreement containing no arbitration provision. Attorney changes firms and requests client to sign new fee agreement which includes arbitration clause. Client fails to read this clause. Under these circumstances, does the attorney have a fiduciary duty to explain the arbitration clause? In Desert Outdoor Advertising v. Superior Court […]

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California Supreme Court will decide whether the “fraud exception” to the parol evidence rule permits evidence of a prior or contemporaneous representation as to the terms contained in a written agreement which are directly at variance with the terms of t

Posted by Dowling Aaron on

RiverIsland Cold Storage, Inc. v. Fresno-Madera Production Credit Association (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 611, review granted April 20, 2011 (S190581) California’s parol evidence rule generally prohibits a party from introducing any parol evidence which varies or contradicts the terms of an integrated written agreement. (Code of Civil Procedure section 1856, subdivision (a).) Under the statutory “fraud […]

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