Published Articles

November 13, 2022
Preparing the Excerpts of Record for Federal Appeals

This course provides an overview of designating the record and preparing the Appendix or Excerpts of Record for federal appeals. Preparing the record is critically important to success on appeal, but is often overlooked by attorneys, who may come to their paralegals shortly before the briefing deadline. Both attorneys and paralegals should be aware that the process is time-intensive. Not only that, but now that the courts have entered the digital age, the courts require the Appendix or Excerpts of Record to conform to demanding technical specifications. This is a daunting undertaking by both the paralegal and the attorney, and paralegals can add tremendous value by understanding the process and encouraging their attorneys to plan ahead.

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November 11, 2022
Making Sense of the California Supreme Court's Publication Rules

Attorneys are aware how important it is to confirm the precedential value of a recent published "smoking gun" decision on all fours with your case. One factor that can greatly disturb the citability of an appellate decision is whether the California Supreme Court has decided to review it. The Supreme Court recently amended rule 8.1115. Fortunately, the amendment is arguably rather sensible. In short, while Supreme Court review is pending, you can still cite your smoking gun case, and the trial court may follow it, even if another appellate court disagrees with it. Less fortunate is that, if your smoking-gun case was taken up for review on an issue completely separate from your smoking-gun issue, the case loses precedential effect on your smoking-gun issue, too, as collateral damage.

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November 11, 2022
MSJ Evidence Rulings Are Discretionary, California Appellate Court Holds in Split of Authority

CEB has published my article, “MSJ Evidence Rulings Are Discretionary, California Appellate Court Holds in Split of Authority,” about the recent published opinion in Doe v. Software One, Inc. (D4d3 Oct. 12, 2022 no. G060554) 2022 WL 6901145 holding that evidentiary rulings in connection with summary judgment are reviewed on appeal for abuse of discretion. The article is here: http://bit.ly/3g090pV

The opinion is interesting because ever since the Supreme Court’s holding in Reid v. Google, Inc. (2010) 50 Cal.4th 512, which applied de novo review, practitioners have watched carefully to see if a trend of more rigorous review of evidentiary rulings might emerge in the context of motions for summary judgment.

But most cases have not followed Reid’s opening. Doe v. Software one provides a nice summary of the cases since Reid.

I also offer a comment that the preferable approach would be to treat boilerplate objections as waived, rather than indulging the fiction the trial court actually considered them all.

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October 27, 2022
CEB has my article, “Don’t Seek Default Without Notifying Opposing Counsel”

CEB has published my article, “Don’t Seek Default Without Notifying Opposing Counsel,” available at https://bit.ly/3WjAZ4m .

The article summarizes a recent case, Shapell Socal Rental Properties, LLC v. Chico’s Fas, Inc. (D4d3 Oct. 17, 2022 no. G060411) ___ Cal.Rptr.3d ___, where the plaintiff’s attorney “calculated to keep [the defendant] in the dark” about a lawsuit in order to obtain a default judgment.

Attorneys have an ethical and a statutory duty to warn opposing counsel before requesting default. The Court of Appeal said the trial court’s failure to grant the motion to set aside the default was “inexplicable,” and on remand, disqualified the trial judge from hearing the case further.

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October 10, 2022
Excluding Expert's Rebuttal Opinion Can Be Grounds to Reverse Jury Verdict

In one of the many lawsuits by hip-replacement patients against Zimmer, Inc., the maker of the Durom Cup, a court of appeal recently held the trial court committed structural error when it improperly excluded Zimmer’s expert to rebut the plaintiff’s expert. See Kline v. Zimmer, Inc. (May 26, 2022, B302544) __Cal.App.5th__, 2022 Cal.App.Lexis 460. This is surprising because, normally, trial court rulings on evidence are reviewed for abuse of discretion, and errors are only reversed if the appellant shows they affected the result. But the exclusion of a rebuttal expert here resulted in automatic reversal.

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October 10, 2022
Supreme Court Affirms the Use of Powerful Civil-Theft Remedies Under Penal Code 496 in Business-Tort Cases

Civil trial attorneys have an industry secret. Say you are suing over an unpaid loan. If the borrower never intended to pay back the loan, that’s not only a breach of contract, it’s a form of theft by false pretenses. And under Penal Code section 496, civil theft is punishable by treble damages and attorney fees. For those in on the secret, section 496 is a powerful tool in a business lawyer’s toolkit.

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September 1, 2022
My recent article, Preparing the Appendix in Federal Appeals, in the latest issue of Facts & Findings

If you are setting out on a federal appeal, you will need to prepare the record. To help attorneys and paralegals in this task, you can read my article, “Preparing the Appendix in Federal Appeals,” in the latest issue of Facts & Findings, published by NALA.

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June 8, 2022
SLAPP Fee Awards Are Automatically Stayed on Appeal: My Article in Cal. Litigation

California Litigation has published my article “Are Anti-SLAPP Fee Awards Stayed on Appeal?” in its Spring 2022 issue. You can access the online version when it becomes available here: https://bit.ly/3aFty3P

My article answers the question: Yes, anti-SLAPP fees are automatically stayed on appeal. But for the past 20 years at least, the answer has been “no.” That is because that is how Dowling v. Zimmerman (2001) 85 Cal.App.4th 1400 answered the question, calling SLAPP fees a “nonroutine cost” and thus excepted from the automatic stay.

But the Legislature had abrogated the “routine vs. nonroutine” distinction way back in 1993. Dowling, it seems, did not catch the drift.

Fortunately, Quiles v. Parent (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 130 noticed something was amiss, and reasoned that “nearly all postjudgment awards of costs in California courts should be subject to the automatic stay….”

The upshot: If you want an anti-SLAPP fee award to be automatically stayed on appeal, cite Quiles. It is the better reasoned case and more consistent with the statutes. But until the Supreme Court resolves this split, litigants who want to enforce anti-SLAPP fee awards pending appeal may still rely on Dowling.

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May 16, 2022
Draft Your RFAs With Costs of Proof and Settlement in Mind

CEB has published my article on Spahn v. Richards (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 208, which awarded a staggering $239,000 in costs-of-proof attorney fees for refusing to admit a request for admission. You can read the article here: https://research.ceb.com/posts/draft-your-rfas-with-costs-of-proof-and-settlement-in-mind.

Spahn held the RFA here went to the ultimate legal issue in the case. Not a concrete fact, but the ultimate fact to be deduced from all the evidence.

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April 13, 2022
'Gamesmanship' Throughout Litigation May Raise Risk of Sanctions on Appeal

CEB published my short article on McQueen v. Huang (D2d8 Mar. 4, 2022 no. B304645) 2022 WL 630606, a decision that imposed appellate sanctions on a litigant based on “gamesmanship” in the trial court. Not in the appellate court — the appellate sanctions were for trial court conduct.

The article is available at CEB’s website here: https://lnkd.in/g8pchRjG

My original post on McQueen is here: https://lnkd.in/gphRKVgC

As I mentioned before, the appellate arguments here were not sanctionable by themselves. What earned the appellant and counsel sanctions was their conduct in the trial court. Beware engaging in litigation practice that the court might perceive as “gamesmanship.” If you ever need relief in the Court of Appeal, you could find yourself sanctioned.

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February 3, 2022
A Trap for the Unwary: Order on a Post-Settlement Fee Motion May Be Unappealable

CEB has published my short article, “A Trap for the Unwary: Order on a Post-Settlement Fee Motion May Be Unappealable.” The link is below. The article was originally published on my blog ( https://bit.ly/3gklJjJ ). The article covers the published opinion in Sanchez v. Westlake Services, LLC (D2d7 Jan. 18, 2022 No. B308435) 2022 WL 1522087.

The upshot is when you are considering appealing orders granting or denying motions to enforce a settlement agreement subject to the trial court’s jurisdiction under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6, ask the trial court to enter a judgment on the order. That may be the only way to ensure the order is appealable.

And there are many trap doors when your appeal is mixed up with a dismissal.

Here is the link to the CEB article: https://bit.ly/35AvdFp

Here is the link to the original blog post: https://bit.ly/3gklJjJ

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December 20, 2021
Don't Fall Into the "No Statement of Decision" Trap

CEB published my article, “Don't Fall Into the "No Statement of Decision" Trap,” which cautions trial attorneys to make sure to formally request a statement of decision. A statement of decision can be a powerful base from which to launch an attack on a judgment, so do you think courts make it easy for you to get a statement of decision? (The answer is no, and as the article explains, courts may even actively steer you into waiving the statement of decision.)

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September 30, 2021
The Risks of Serving Too Many Interrogatories

CEB has republished my article Excessive Interrogatories Violate the Rules of Civility, Appellate Court Says at their website as, "The Risks of Serving Too Many Interrogatories".

The article is about two important but subtle rules of civil discovery in Estate of Huang (D2d4 Aug. 17, 2021) no. B307671 (nonpub. opn.). And a bonus appellate tip.

The CEB article is available here: https://lnkd.in/gCx62BwX.

My original article is here: https://lnkd.in/g4xJfid7.

Get a weekly digest of these articles delivered to your inbox by subscribing here: https://lnkd.in/g23bc4Y.

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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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