Decisions In Criminal, Contracts, Employment, Insurance, & Family Law Matters - California Case Law
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Decisions In Criminal, Contracts, Employment, Insurance, & Family Law Matters

In People v. Hartsch, S074804, the California Supreme Court faced a challenge to a conviction of defendant for three counts of first degree murder and sentence of death based on the special circumstance of multiple murder.  In affirming, the court held, inter alia, that defendant failed to meet his burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination in the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges.  The court rejected defendant's claim that the court's failure to sever the charges resulted in a fundamentally unfair trial, denying him due process as without merit. The court held that the trial court did not err in excluding testimony of certain witnesses, and since there was ample corroboration, defendant could not have been prejudiced by the omission of his proposed instruction on accomplice liability for felony murder.  Finally, the court held that defendant's challenges to the death penalty law and instructions are meritless, and that no error affected the guilt or penalty verdict, considered individually or conjunctively.

People v. Williams, No. S029490, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for first-degree murder and other crimes and sentence of death.  The court affirmed in its entirety over defendant's claims of: 1) the statements that he made to the police following his arrest were obtained in violation of Miranda and were involuntary; 2) the taint of the initial police coercion infected a witness's trial testimony in violation of defendant's right to a fair trial as guaranteed by the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution; 3) the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on consideration of accomplice testimony; 4) the trial court erred in delivering former CALJIC No. 2.11.5 without amendment; 5) the trial court erred in its prior felony conviction instructions; 6) asserted prosecutorial misconduct; 7) instruction on the Governor's commutation power; and 8) unconstitutionality of California's death penalty scheme.

Tverberg v. Fillner Constr., Inc., No. S169753, concerned the Court of Appeal's reversal of the trial court's grant of general contractor's motion for summary judgment in an independent contractor's suit against the general contractor for his injuries sustained as a construction jobsite.  In reversing, the court held that the doctrine of peculiar risk does not apply when, as here, an on-the-job injured independent contractor hired by a subcontractor seeks to hold the general contractor vicariously liable for injuries arising from risks inherent in the nature of the location of the hired work over which the independent contractor has, through the chain of delegation, been granted control.

In re Marriage of Sonne, No. H030110, concerned a challenge to the judgment of the trial court in dividing the parties' interests in husband's California Public Employees' Retirements System (CalPERS) retirement allowance and survivor benefit, in marital dissolution proceedings.  In reversing, the court held that the trial court abused its discretion both in concluding that the reacquired service credit was entirely community property and in awarding the entire survivor benefit to the wife.

In re T.J., No. C061890, concerned a conviction of a minor defendant for committing lewd acts on a child, juvenile court's conclusion that the minor is eligible, but not suitable for a deferred entry of judgment (DEJ), and adjudging the minor a ward of the court and ordering probation is affirmed as, the minor was not entitled to DEJ because he did not admit the allegations of the section 602 petition and necessarily did not do so in lieu of jurisdictional and dispositional hearings.

Pennsylvania Gen. Ins. Co. v. Am. Safety Indem. Co., No. D054522, concerned a suit for equitable contribution for a portion of the defense and indemnity costs paid by the plaintiff-insurer in the underlying construction defect litigation against the insured.  In reversing the trial court's judgment in favor of the defendant-insurer, the court held that the defendant's CGL policy is reasonably susceptible to the interpretation that the trigger of coverage was damage to property, not the causal conduct, and the 1999 endorsements were merely designed to obviate the application of the "progressive damage-continuous trigger" articulated in Montrose Chem. Corp. v. Admiral Ins. Co. (1995) 10 Cal. 4th 645.

Scott v. Rayhrer, No. B209160, concerned a medical malpractice suit, arising from a surgery for colorectal cancer where a drain inserted after the surgery was left in plaintiff's abdomen and not discovered and removed until 20 months later.  In affirming the the judgment, the court held that the trial court did not err in refusing to give the res ipsa loquitur instruction as to one of the doctors, in instructing the jury that a finding of negligence must be based on expert testimony, and iin its instruction to the jury on the standard of care.

Steinman v. Malamed, No. B216291, concerned a defendant's motion to enforce the prepayment provision under the settlement agreement arising from plaintiffs' suit for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud, seeking to recover overpayment amount.  In reversing the trial court's grant of the motion and award of attorney's fees and prejudgment interest, the court held that the trial court's finding that defendant's payment was made under protest and was involuntary is not supported by substantial evidence.  Furthermore, the California Uniform Commercial Code does not apply.  And lastly, plaintiff is the prevailing party and is entitled to attorney's fees.

Related Resources:

  • Full text of People v. Hartsch
  • Full text of People v. Hartsch
  • Full text of People v. Williams
  • Full text of People v. Williams
  • Full text of Tverberg v. Fillner Constr., Inc
  • Full text of Tverberg v. Fillner Constr., Inc
  • Full text of In re Marriage of Sonne
  • Full text of In re Marriage of Sonne
  • Full text of In re T.J
  • Full text of In re T.J
  • Full text of Pennsylvania Gen. Ins. Co. v. Am. Safety Indem. Co
  • Full text of Pennsylvania Gen. Ins. Co. v. Am. Safety Indem. Co
  • Full text of Scott v. Rayhrer
  • Full text of Scott v. Rayhrer
  • Full text of Steinman v. Malamed
  • Full text of Steinman v. Malamed