Legal News and Appellate Tips

Each week, TVA appellate attorney Tim Kowal reviews several recent decisions out of the appellate courts in California, and elsewhere, and reports about the ones that might help you get an edge in your cases and appeals.

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Tag: Record Designation

Creditor may intervene to prevent debtor from colluding to pay a different creditor

There is an evergreen warning in Brilliant Digital Ent., Inc. v. PersonalWeb Tech., LLC (D2d4 Oct. 3, 2022 no. B317580) 2022 WL 4716637 (nonpub. opn.) that an incomplete appellate record can doom an otherwise righteous appeal.

And there is also a reminder of a more esoteric nature about a rule that allows unsecured creditors a right to mandatory intervention.

In short, a debtor colluded with plaintiff, a friendly creditor, to avoid paying a $5.4 million judgment it owed to Amazon. Amazon, an unsecured creditor, was denied intervention, but won on appeal on the basis of the collusion exception under Continental Vinyl Products Corp. v. Mead Corp. (1972) 27 Cal.App.3d 543.

But Amazon almost lost this appeal by failing to provide a complete record. Amazon had raised the exception in the trial court by way of a supplemental brief. But on appeal, Amazon did not even include that supplemental brief in the record.

The court allowed Amazon to supplement the record with that brief, but at that point the court noticed that Amazon also had failed to include the underlying motion to intervene, as well as the reply brief and the complaint-in-intervention.

In the usual case, these record defects would have been fatal. Amazon should be very grateful of the court’s indulgence here.

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Justice Wiley Urges Bar to Consider Independent Experts

In a first-of-its-kind case, California's Court of Appeal has authorized a "Wi-Fi Sickeness" case to proceed. Although such cases have been rejected in ADA cases in federal courts, the California court in Brown v. Los Angeles Unified School District (D2d8 Feb. 18, 2021) No. B294240 noted the broad "physical disability" protections of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and California's liberal pleading standard made the difference here.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Wiley says he sees how we practitioners are using expert witnesses, and he doesn't like it. He urges the bar instead to consider using court-appointed experts.

If I may be permitted to disagree, I think this is not the right case for that. In a cause of action for accounting, by all means. But in a case involving still-emerging science, fact-finders need to be presented with what the parties think are the most compelling hypotheses.

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