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Appellate - Representative Experience

  • Issues
  • Venue
  • Client Type
  • Lawyers
  • Full Description
  • Result
  • Conversion; Unfair Business Practices; Bad Faith; Negligence
  • San Francisco County Superior Court
  • Defendant Insurer
  • Jennifer E. Acheson, Michael J. Brady
  • Represented an insurance company who was named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit stemming from an auto collision. The plaintiff sued our client for the loss of his vehicle and unfair business practices when a driver fell asleep at the wheel and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle causing total damage to the vehicle’s front end.

  • The matter proceeded to a jury trial in San Francisco Superior Court and our client prevailed. The plaintiff was then unsuccessful in his attempt to appeal the verdict.

  • Appeal; Arson
  • Sacramento County Superior Court
  • Defendant Insurance Provider
  • The firm was retained to appeal a $3.2 million judgment against a homeowner's insurer in a bad faith case. The insured alleged that the insurer had instigated a criminal prosecution for arson against him in relation to a fire that destroyed his home.

  • The court of appeal completely reversed the judgment.

  • Conversion; Fraud
  • USDC: Northern District of California
  • Defendant
  • J. Mark Thacker
  • An international humanitarian foundation asserted claims based on conversion and fraud, claiming that our clients knowingly received millions of dollars that allegedly had been illegally obtained from it by others in an investment fraud scheme, and further, that our clients actively concealed the funds to avoid recovery by the plaintiff.


     

  • We obtained a summary judgment on all claims. On appeal, which we also handled, the 9th Circuit affirmed.

  • Civil Rights; 28 USC 1983; Injunction; Contempt
  • USDC: Northern District of California
  • Defendant Municipality Police Officers
  • J. Mark Thacker
  • Represented a city and individual police officers in two separate actions in defense of the plaintiffs' claims for the alleged violation of their civil rights. The plaintiffs alleged that they were prevented from exercising their freedom of speech rights because they were denied access to certain areas of public property, and on one occasion when they were arrested. The plaintiffs claimed entitlement to substantial civil penalties under applicable state and federal statutes (Civil Code sec. 52.1 and 28 USC 1983).

     

  • We were brought into the case after an injunction had already been entered and after the plaintiffs had filed a motion for summary judgment. We substantially defeated the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on several claims, and obtained a favorable adjudication of our clients' claims for qualified immunity on most claims. Thereafter, we defeated the plaintiffs' contempt motion (based on violation of the preliminary injunction) after a three-day evidentiary hearing. Additionally, we eliminated all of the plaintiffs' claims for substantial civil penalties (in excess of $500,000) by obtaining a favorable ruling from the district court interpreting the applicable state statute (Civil Code sec. 52.1) to preclude all such penalties. We also prevailed in defeating the plaintiffs' petition to the 9th Circuit for permission to appeal the ruling.
     

  • Employee vs. Independent Contractor
  • Defendant Health Insurance Company
  • Todd A. Roberts
  • The sales agents of a health insurance company claimed they were employees despite expressly agreeing they were independent contractors.

     

     

  • The case was successfully tried to a conclusion favorable to our client before the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

  • Malicious Prosecution; Legal Malpractice
  • California Court of Appeals
  • Defendant Law Firm
  • Julian Pardo de Zela
  • Represented an attorney sued for malicious prosecution.


     

  • Successfully appealed the court's order denying the Firm's special motion to strike, pursuant to C.C.P. section 42516.

  • Legal Malpractice; Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • California Court of Appeals
  • Defendant Law Firm
  • Julian Pardo de Zela
  • Represented an attorney sued for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty.
     

  • Successfully brought a special motion to strike, thereby disposing of four other causes of action against our client.
     

  • Malicious Prosecution; Legal Malpractice
  • California Court of Appeals
  • Defendant Law Firm
  • Julian Pardo de Zela
  • Successfully appealed an order denying a purchaser and a law firm's special motion to strike a complaint for malicious prosecution in a case alleging fraud and breach of contract in a property sale.

     

  • Attorney's fees of $30K+ were awarded to our clients.

  • HIV; Denial of Transplant
  • Administrative Hearing
  • HIV Claimant
  • Julian Pardo de Zela
  • Represented an HIV Medi-Cal claimant in a successful appeal of Medi-Cal's denial of a lung transplant due to the claimant's HIV status.


     

  • Denial of the claim was reversed by an Administrative Law Judge, who ordered Medi-Cal to provide the lung transplant.
     

  • Labor Code; Appeal
  • Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board
  • Defendant National Hotel Chain
  • David M. McLaughlin
  • Represented an employer in a Labor Code section 132(a) matter before the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board. The claimant alleged she was terminated because of a disability arising from a work related injury.


     

  • The matter settled favorably for our client.

  • Statutory Construction / Landowner Liability
  • California Supreme Court
  • Defendant Propery Owner
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Represented the defendant, a property owner, in a Supreme Court appeal.

  • Successfully challenged the interpretation the court of appeal gave to a state statute immunizing landowners from liability for injury to criminals who commit felonies on the owners’ premises.

  • Church Law
  • Court of Appeal of the State of California Sixth Appellate District
  • Church
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • A real property dispute erupted when a dissenting faction withdrew from a religious organization. The appeal involved significant U.S. and California constitutional issues.
     

     

  • Succeeded in having a lower court decision affirmed which determined that the real property remained in the control of the church.

  • Punitive Damages
  • San Francisco, First District Court of Appeal
  • Defendant Insurance Company
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Represented the defendant, and insurance company, in an appeal concerning, among other issues, imposition of millions of dollars in punitive damages.

  • Successfully obtained a reversal of the punitive damages decision.

  • Bad Faith
  • USDC: Central District of California
  • Defendant Insurance Company
  • Michael J. Brady
  • Defended an insurance company in a bad faith for failure to pay the fidelity claim brought by one of Italy's largest banks. The underlying claim arose out of the activities of the famous sports entrepreneur Bruce McNall, who allegedly swindled various Southern California banks out of millions. We arranged for the insurance company to do an extensive investigation of countless witnesses, including experts and built a strong case for the validity of the denial.

  • A federal judge ultimately granted summary judgment based upon the "thoroughness" of the investigation, even though mistakes may have been made by the company. The matter was completely dismissed, and the dismissal was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.

  • ERISA; insurance; bad faith; breach of contract; employee welfare plan; disability; employee benefits; claim determination
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal; U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • Defendants employee welfare benefit plan, and insurance company
  • Robert M. Forni
  • This ERISA action arose from the termination of long term disability benefits.  The employee welfare benefit plan was insured under a group disability policy issued by Continental Casualty Company.   Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company (“Hartford”) later acquired the policy, and thereafter assumed responsibility for administering claims under the plan.  Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for the plan, concluding that Hartford did not abuse its discretion under the plan in terminating the plaintiff’s benefits even though Hartford had a “structural conflict” in that it both funded and decided claims under the plan.  

  • The trial court entered judgment for the defendants, which is on appeal.

  • ERISA, employee welfare plan, appeal, arbitration
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • Robert M. Forni
  • A former employee submitted a claim for disability benefits under an employee welfare benefit plan three months after she ceased working for the plan sponsor.  The employee did not advise the insurer and claim administrator for the plan that she had been terminated and on a leave of absence since August 28, 2001, or that she had released her claims for disability benefits under the plan pursuant to a severance agreement that she had previously signed.  The insurer determined she was not eligible for disability benefits because she was not disabled as of August 29, 2001 and throughout the plan's ninety-day elimination period.  The employee sued the insurer and plan to recover disability benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”).  The district court granted the employee's petition to dismiss her entire action and compel the binding arbitration of her claims against the insurer under the Federal Arbitration Act and her employment agreement with her former employer.  She then submitted all claims  to the jurisdiction of the arbitrator.

  • The arbitrator convened a hearing counsel argued the merits of the parties’ claims and defenses.  The arbitrator subsequently issued a written ruling in the insurer's favor.  In doing so, the arbitrator found that the employee had knowingly and voluntarily released her right to plan benefits under the terms of the severance agreement, and that the agreement barred her claims against the insurer.  The district court granted the insurer's petition to confirm the arbitration award, and entered judgment in the insurer's favor.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment on appeal.

  • ERISA; insurance; bad faith; breach of contract; employee welfare plan; disability; employee benefits; claim determination
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal; U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • Defendants employee welfare benefit plan, and insurance company
  • Robert M. Forni
  • This ERISA action arose from the termination of long term disability benefits.  The employee welfare benefit plan was insured under a group disability policy issued by Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston.  Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for the plan, concluding that Liberty did not abuse its discretion under the plan in terminating the plaintiff’s benefits even though Liberty had a “structural conflict” in that it both funded and decided claims under the plan.  

  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed judgment for the defendant.

  • Appeal; Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict; Employment Law; Punitive Damages
  • San Mateo County Superior Court, California Court of Appeal
  • Defendant Employer
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Represented the defendant after a jury awarded the plaintiff, the client’s employee, over $1 million in damages. The plaintiff sued the defendant due to a breached I.O.U. for $75,000 owed in back commission.  Post-trial motions to amend judgment, motions for new trial and motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict were filed by our firm, eliciting rulings from the trial court that eliminated two-thirds of the damages awarded.  Because of these motions, the plaintiff was forced to appeal.

  • Due to the protective cross-appeal obtained for the client, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s reductions in damages and struck additional damages from the previous judgment.  The client was only forced to pay the plaintiff for the cost of the I.O.U., a proper and dramatically reduced outcome for the lawsuit.

  • Statutory interpretation, negligence
  • California Court of Appeal
  • Homeowner
  • Terry Anastassiou
  • Appeal of trial court dismissal of engineer malpractice action for purported failure to satisfy statutory requirement of certificate of merit.  

  • Judgment against client reversed in decision that clarifies litigant’s entitlement under concepts of due process to file amended certificate.
    Price v. Dames & Moore (92 Cal.App.4th 355)

  • Due Process and Eighth Amendment Protection
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • County Clinic
  • Terry Anastassiou
  • Ninth Circuit appeal of judgment in favor of client and against plaintiff sheriff-sergeant who sued after she was involuntarily committed for observation in mental health facility.  Issues included due process, Eighth Amendment and interpretation of statutory scheme.  

  • Judgment for client affirmed.
    Carlson v. San Mateo County (1996 U.S.App.LEXIS 32764)

  • Statutory interpretation, construction defect
  • California Court of Appeal
  • Non-Profit Group
  • Terry Anastassiou, Dennis J. Ward
  • Appeal of judgment on jury defense verdict for client in suit by man who drowned in health club hot tub.  Issues included detailed statutory and regulatory analysis and causation in context of stipulated negligence per se.  

  • Judgment for client affirmed in published decision clarifying applicable regulations.
    Andres v. Mid-Peninsula YMCA (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 85

  • Employer-employee relations; unfair competition
  • California Court of Appeal
  • Defendant Electronics Manufacturer
  • Terry Anastassiou
  • Competitor sued client to stop alleged poaching of employees, dismissed lawsuit when trial court found no evidence to support issuance of injunction.  Trial court found lawsuit objectively specious and awarded client attorney fees.

  • Judgment for attorney fees affirmed.  

    Cypress Semiconductor v. Maxim Int’d Prods. (2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 243.

  • Statutory interpretation, commercial distribution law
  • California Court of Appeal
  • International beer company
  • Terry Anastassiou
  • Client’s petition for writ of mandate from order denying summary judgment to client defendant, a beer importer who was sued after declining to permit a distributor to obtain additional territory.

  • Denial of motion reversed and judgment entered for client.

    Crown Beverages v. Superior Court (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 1395

  • Insurance law
  • California Court of Appeal
  • Liability insurer
  • Terry Anastassiou
  • Plaintiff’s appeal of judgment for client insurer in suit to recover cost of settling tenant suit against plaintiff landlords.  Trial court found that landlords’ deliberate acts and failures were barred from coverage by Insurance Code § 533. 

  • Judgment for client affirmed.

    Axis Surplus Ins. Co. v. Reinoso (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 181

  • Statutory interpretation, medical malpractice
  • California Supreme Court
  • Public hospital
  • Terry Anastassiou, Susan H. Handelman
  • Appeal of judgment on jury verdict in month-long trial of medical malpractice action.  Issues on review included statutory analysis of Evidence Code provisions regarding peer review confidentiality.

  • Judgment for client affirmed in Sixth Appellate District and California Supreme Court.

    Fox v. Kramer (2000) 22 Cal.4th 531

  • Anti-SLAPP law, Defamation
  • California Court of Appeal
  • Non-profit anti-bigotry advocacy group
  • Terry Anastassiou
  • Appeal of order striking plaintiff’s defamation suit against client nonprofit advocacy group who reported issues with administration of charter school.

  • Judgment for client affirmed in decision clarifying application of “public official” status to public school administrators.

    Ghafur v. Bernstein (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 1230

  • Anti-SLAPP law, Prop. 65
  • California Court of Appeal
  • Private individual
  • Terry Anastassiou
  • Appeal of client’s successful special motion to strike company’s complaint for declaratory relief filed in reaction to service of “Prop 65” notice regarding toxic chemicals in processed food.  

  • Judgment for client affirmed in decision rejecting preemptive use of declaratory relief in Prop. 65 actions.

    CKE Restaurants v. Moore (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 262

  • State Taxation
  • California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District
  • Plaintiff Corporate Taxpayer
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Represented the plaintiff, a corporate taxpayer, in a complex appeal involving a refund of more than $2 billion in state possessory interest taxes.

  • Succeeded in reversing the trial court outcome that had barred refund.

  • ERISA; bad faith; breach of contract; employee welfare plan; disability; employee benefits; claim determination
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • Defendant employer and its insurer
  • Robert M. Forni, Susan H. Handelman
  • This ERISA action arose from the termination of long term disability benefits.  The employee welfare benefit plan was insured under a group disability policy issued by an insurance company.  Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for the plan, concluding that the insurer did not abuse its discretion under the plan in terminating the plaintiff’s benefits even though the insurer had a “structural conflict” in that it both funded and decided claims under the plan.  

  • Judgment for employer/insurer affirmed.
     

  • Attorney Fees, Professional Responsibility
  • California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District
  • Primarily Plaintiff-Side Law Firm
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Plaintiff law firm (our client) obtained a significant victory for its client and, per the law firm's fee agreement with its underlying client, was entitled to an $8.5 million fee.  The underlying client declined to pay the law firm and its former client litigated the fee in arbitration.  The arbitrator awarded the law firm $8.5 million.  The former client appealed after the superior court confirmed the arbitration award.

  • Successfully defended the law firm; appellate court affirmed the $8.5 million fee on appeal.

  • Trust Law; Petition for Instructions
  • California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District
  • Trustee of Trust – Individual – Daughter of Decedent
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Person seeking a distribution from a California trust appealed the probate court's ruling that the person was not entitled to any distribution from the trust.

  • California Statutory Scheme Regulating Beer
  • California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District
  • Corporation – Major National Beer Importer
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Southern California distributor sued a national beer importer claiming that a valuable distribution contract should have been awarded to it.  Our client (the importer) moved for summary judgment based on a California distributorship statute.  The superior court denied summary judgment.  The trial lawyers from a national firm came to us to pursue a writ of mandate in the appellate court.  

  • We succeeded.  The appellate court ordered judgment entered for our client, the beer importer.

  • Pharmaceuticals; Nearly One-Half Billion Dollar Judgment for Breach of Contract, Fraud, Punitive Damages
  • California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District
  • Swiss Pharmaceutical Company
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Represented European pharmaceutical company against an Asian pharmaceutical company in post-trial motions on appeal following a more than three month trial.  Assisted the client with not only the multi-faceted appeal, but also on complex appeal bond issues and post-appeal tax issues.

  • Trade Secret, Bad Faith, Attorney Fees
  • California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District
  • Silicon Valley High Tech Company
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • A Silicon Valley company sued our client for misappropriation of trade secret.  Our client won and was awarded attorney fees based on the trade secret matter having been brought in bad faith.  

  • The opponent appealed but we prevailed, collecting attorney fees for the appeal as well.

  • Sale of Real Property for Development into residential Parcels, Breach of Contract
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Buyer/developer sued for breach of contract the seller of real property who also performed infrastructure work on the land.  The District Court ruled for our client.  We assisted with the post-trial motions and prevailed on appeal.

  • Judgment for the seller affirmed and the appellate court awarded our client its attorney fees for the appeal.

  • Minor; wrongful death; standing
  • Los Angeles County Superior Court/Second District Court of Appeal
  • Automotive Parts
  • Stephan A. Barber
  • Plaintiff, a minor orphan, moved into the residence of his aunt and uncle after his mother died in 1999.  In 2002, the uncle, a carburetor mechanic, was killed by a flying piece of shrapnel from a radiator fan manufactured by the Defendants' predecessor.  The Plaintiff sued for wrongful death, claiming that he was dependent upon the decedent for at least 50% of his support  in the six months preceding the death, thereby allegedly giving him standing under CCP section 377.60(c).  During the depositions of Plaintiff and the aunt, Defendants learned that the Plaintiff began receiving Social Security survivor benefits one year after his natural mother's death.  The Plaintiff and his aunt claimed that the Social Security benefits were saved for later use and that the decedent paid for all of the Plaintiff's housing and support.  After a bench trial, the trial court ruled that Plaintiff did not have standing to sue for wrongful death because he failed to prove that he had received at least 50% of his support from the decedent.  The Plaintiff appealed.  

  • Judgment for the Defendants in the trial court.  Judgment for Defendants affirmed by a unanimous Second District Court of Appeal.

  • Employment; accident; death; negligence; respondeat superior
  • Alameda County Superior Court/First District Court of Appeal
  • Drug Manufacturing
  • Stephan A. Barber
  • Plaintiffs' decedent was killed in a rear-end automobile collision on the San Mateo Bay Bridge in December, 2012.  The driver of the Plaintiffs' decedent's vehicle was also injured.  The collision was caused by the negligence of the Co-Defendant who claimed that he was on his way to his workplace to perform employment-related tasks on his regularly scheduled day off.  The employer claimed that the employee was not acting in the course and scope of his employment by virtue of the "going and coming" doctrine.  The Plaintiffs alleged that the "special errand" exception applied to place the employee in the course and scope of his employment, thereby making his employer vicariously liable for his tortuous conduct.  The employer filed a motion for summary judgment, which was denied on procedural grounds.  After conducting further discovery, the employer filed a second motion for summary judgment.  The Plaintiffs and the employee opposed the motion.  After oral argument, the trial court took the matter under submission for almost two months and ultimately granted the motion.  Plaintiffs appealed. 

  • Summary judgment granted in favor of the employer on the course and scope of employment issue.  Plaintiffs' appeal is pending in the First District Court of Appeal.

  • ERISA; Insurance; Bad Faith; Breach of Contract; Employee Welfare Plan; Disability; Employee Benefits; Claim Determination
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court; USDC: Northern District of California
  • Defendants Employee Welfare Benefit Plan; Insurance Carrier
  • Pamela E. Cogan (Retired), Robert M. Forni
  • Defended an insurance carrier and an employee welfare benefits plan in an ERISA action which arose from the termination of long term disability benefits. The employee welfare benefit plan was insured under a group disability policy issued by an insurance carrier. Following a bench trial, the trial court remanded the case to the claim administrator for further investigation. On remand, the claim demand was again upheld and the plaintiff filed suit again.

  • The trial court entered judgment for our client concluding that the insurer did not abuse its discretion under the plan in terminating the plaintiff’s benefits even though they had a “structural conflict” in that it both funded and decided claims under the plan. The ninth circuit affirmed on appeal.

  • Trade Secret
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court, Sixth District Court of Appeal
  • Software Inventor
  • Susan H. Handelman
  • Represented an inventor against an internet based stock trading company in a trade secret case in which the court of appeal reversed the trial court's decision on our client's motion for nonsuit; damages for misappropriation of a trade secret.

  • The court remanded the case for trial on the damages issue.

  • Mass Tort, Water Quality
  • California Court of Appeal
  • Water Districts
  • Terry Anastassiou
  • Mass tort plaintiffs’ appeal of trial court ruling dismissing claims against client water districts based on isolated and transient issues with tap water.

  • Judgment for client affirmed in decision clarifying of what constitutes mandatory duty for purposes of Government Code, section 815.6.

    Abarca Group v. So.Cal. Water Co. (2007) 154 Cal.App.4th 659