Articles

"It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read…."

James Madison, Federalist 62

The pursuit of a perfectly detailed understanding of anything eventually loses the truth because one knows too much. Historians, for instance, in their microscopic focus on their craft, once concluded the ancient city of Troy never existed, until Heinrich Schliemann exhumed not only one Troy but seven.

Following the daily churn of statutes passed by legislatures and cases interpreting and reinterpreting them, one could be led to observe, as Mark Twain did of New England weather, that if you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes. But as many of the articles on this page will suggest, the law tends to follow rather fixed patterns. We hope these articles, many about legal outcomes that seem surprising, will suggest the law might be more predictable than you think.

September 28, 2020
Cal Appellate News for Lawyers (Sept. 18, 2020)

TVA appellate attorney Tim Kowal publishes this weekly update of legal news for trial attorneys. You may subscribe by clicking here. Covid EXTENSIONS Have Expired, But Covid EXCUSES May Still Work The First Appellate District (Rowan v. Kirkpatrick, A160568) observes that while the Covid-related extended deadlines have passed, "Courts have long recognized the policy, based […]

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September 28, 2020
Cal Appellate News for Lawyers (Aug. 31, 2020)

TVA appellate attorney Tim Kowal publishes this weekly update of legal news for trial attorneys. You may subscribe by clicking here. NOT the Schoolhouse Rock Version of Cal. Supreme Court Review.First, a chilling Third District decision says if a sheriff's deputy asks you to check on a neighbor, omits the fact the neighbor had whispered […]

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September 28, 2020
Appeals and Anti-SLAPP Law: California Appellate Law Podcast Episode 1 (Jul. 1, 2020)

The inaugural episode of California Appellate Law Podcast discusses California's anti-SLAPP law, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 and several key decisions by the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court. In 1992, California enacted Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 which provides a mechanism for quickly dismissing frivolous lawsuits and awarding attorney’s […]

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April 24, 2020
ASSET-PROTECTION UPDATE: QPRTS MAY BE DEEMED REVOCABLE!

In a recently affirmed decision TVA obtained for the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court held that a QPRT - generally irrevocable...

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April 24, 2020
WHEN BRIEFING APPELLATE ISSUES, LESS IS MORE

An attorney pursuing an appeal may be tempted to raise any and all arguments - however flimsy - before...

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April 24, 2020
A DEFAULT JUDGMENT WAS ENTERED AGAINST YOU WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE. WHAT CAN YOU DO?

In today's litigious society, parties are quick to sue others but, due to the demands of life, defendants will oftentimes overlook...

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April 24, 2020
ATTENTION ESTATE PLANNERS: QPRTS MAY BE DEEMED REVOCABLE!

In a recent decision TVA obtained for the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court held that a QPRT - generally irrevocable...

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April 24, 2020
BANK ORDERED TO PAY HOMEOWNERS’ ATTORNEY FEES FOR IMPROPER “DUAL-TRACKING”

Distressed homeowners subject to lender "dual-tracking" do not need to wait until the end of a lawsuit to recover attorneys' fees...

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April 24, 2020
BLACK-AND-WHITE STATUTE OF LIMITATION FOR ATTORNEY-MALPRACTICE ACTIONS GETS A FRESH COAT OF GRAY

The one-year period to bring an action for malpractice typically begins after the lawyer last represented you...

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April 24, 2020
BROKERS: GET YOUR COMMISSION AGREEMENTS IN WRITING!

"We are all familiar with the phrase, "caveat emptor": Buyer beware. This case deals with its less renowned cousin...

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April 24, 2020
CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT: PUBLIC RECORDS ACT COVERS PUBLIC OFFICIALS’ & EMPLOYEES’ PRIVATE DEVICES

In the high-profile case City of San Jose v. Superior Court, the California high court recently held: "when a city employee uses a personal account to communicate...

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April 24, 2020
CAN A TRIAL COURT REDUCE ATTORNEYS’ FEES IN A SETTLEMENT?

Leeman v. Adams Extract & Spice Co. (Cal. Ct. App. May 21, 2015) says no. As they routinely do, a Prop-65 toxic-chemicals-warning case settles for a trifling amount of penalties but a heaping portion of attorneys' fees...

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April 24, 2020
CHECKMATING A CHECKERS OPPONENT WITH CCP § 998 OFFERS

If you've been involved in litigation, you likely are aware of the "CCP 998 offer." CCP § 998 is a statutory carrot-and-stick...

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April 24, 2020
COLLECTING AGAINST SPENDTHRIFTS IN BANKRUPTCY, JUDGMENT COLLECTION

In our February newsletter, we noted the California Supreme Court was reviewing whether the ambiguous spendthrift protections...

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April 24, 2020
DOES THE JUDICIARY UNDERSTAND JUDICIAL ADMISSIONS?

The judicial admission is a simple concept: when you take a position in a pleading, discovery response, or open court, you're stuck with it...

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April 24, 2020
EMPLOYER UNDERPAYS DEPARTING EMPLOYEE $300, GETS STUCK WITH $30,000 FOR EMPLOYEE’S LEGAL FEES

Is an employee leaving? Pay up. Pay in full. There is no 'A' for effort...

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April 24, 2020
EMPLOYERS CAN PROTECT THEIR WORKFORCE WITHOUT ENGAGING IN UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT OF TRADE

Retaining key personnel is vital to the success of any enterprise. However, the law's prohibition of trade restraints often makes it difficult...

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April 24, 2020
FINDING JUSTICE IN THE GRINDING GEARS OF LITIGATION

The right judgment is not always the just result...

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April 24, 2020
IF A CHOICE-OF-LAW CLAUSE MATTERS, SO DOES THE FORUM

A recent opinion of the California Court of Appeal held a New York choice-of-law clause was ineffective to enforce a party's waiver...

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April 24, 2020
IRREVOCABLE TRUSTS: NOT FOOLPROOF ASSET PROTECTION DEVICES

Irrevocable trusts are often used to protect assets from the reach of creditors, but courts have chipped away...

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April 24, 2020
LITIGATION-FUNDING INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO GROW

With the recent publicity of Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media, and specifically the funding of the lawsuit...

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April 24, 2020
OF GOOD FENCES, BAD NEIGHBORS, AND RECOVERING LEGAL COSTS

"It is often said that good fences make good neighbors. One might wonder whether there actually is such a correlation...

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April 24, 2020
PATIO FURNITURE DOES NOT ESTABLISH AN EQUITABLE EASEMENT

In a recent property-dispute opinion, the Second District in Shoen v. Zacarias came to the perfectly sensible decision that equity is not aroused by a trespasser's inconvenience...

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April 24, 2020
POKEMON MAKER SEEKS DISMISSAL OF NUISANCE & DISGORGEMENT SUIT

Pokemon Go-maker Niantec moved to dismiss the class action that alleges the wildly popular app causes droves of users to trespass on private property...

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April 17, 2020
SLAPP NEWS: CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT REITERATES, AGAIN, THAT WRONGDOING IS NOT “SPEECH” JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE TALKED ABOUT IT

The high court recently published Park v. Trustees of the Cal. State Univ., reversing a split appellate-panel decision.

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April 17, 2020
YOU MAY BE ABLE TO LIMIT “CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES" IN YOUR CONTRACTS

Despite best efforts to reduce expectations to a written contract, one can rarely estimate with much accuracy...

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November 28, 2018
A DEFENSE LAWYER'S COMPLAINT: SOME JUDGES DON'T GET IT ABOUT JUDICIAL ADMISSIONS

Originally published in Verdict
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A man is handing out leaflets in the train station, an old Soviet joke has it, when he is stopped by an officer. Examining the leaflets, the officer discovers they are just blank pieces of paper...

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October 15, 2017
DIRTY WORK: DISGORGING THE PROFITS OF TRESPASSING PIPELINES

Originally published in OC Lawyer
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There are two kinds of developers: the pessimist, who sees a glass as half-empty, and the optimist, who sees the glass as four-fifths empty...

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