Tag Archives: Lawyer

Engaging in Voluminous Discovery and Litigating Two Motions to Compel Sufficient to Waive Right to Arbitrate

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In an unpublished decision, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration in a wage and hour class action, where defendants conducted voluminous discovery and filed and fully litigating two motions to compel further responses to discovery, a motion for sanctions and a motion for a protective order.    Partridge, et al. v. Hott Wings, Inc., et al., No. A130266, 2012 WL 470458 (Feb. 14, 2012).

Discussion

The Court found that Defendants’ delay in filing their petition to compel arbitration “connotes an intent not to arbitrate”.  Id. Defendants conducted substantial discovery:

Between March 2010 and the October 2010 hearing on defendants’ motion to compel arbitration, defendants engaged in voluminous written discovery to which plaintiffs responded.   In addition, defendants deposed numerous plaintiffs and third party witnesses.   Although plaintiffs had begun deposing witnesses, they had not yet obtained basic documents from defendants through discovery.   The discovery focused on the liability of individual defendants and the franchise defendants that employ plaintiffs.   As a result of defendants’ discovery requests, plaintiffs provided information regarding plaintiffs’ estimated damages, which defendants were responsible for which violations, and the liability of the individual as well as the franchise defendants.   A reasonable inference is that the information gained from defendants’ discovery goes to significant issues in plaintiffs’ case.

Id.

In addition, the Court found that Defendants “substantially invoked the litigation machinery” by: Continue reading

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Unlicensed Law School Graduate Still May Be Exempt Under Learned Professions Exemption

Harvey A. Nell, Clerk and Recorder, Anaconda, MT

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The First District Court of Appeal held that summary judgment was properly granted in a wage and hour case because plaintiff unlicensed law school graduate performed duties that brought him within the exemption for learned professionals.  Zelasko-Barrett v. Brayton-Purcell, LLP, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2011 WL 3594015, No. A130540 (1st Dist. Aug. 17, 2011) .

Background

Plaintiff was employed by the Brayton-Purcell, LLP (Brayton) law firm as a Law Clerk II after he graduated from law school but before he passed the bar examination. Id. *1. After being admitted to the bar, plaintiff was designated as an associate attorney, and performed tasks customarily performed by junior attorneys. Id. He drafted pleadings, discover demands and responses, did legal research and drafted memoranda of points and authorities, interviewed witnesses, etc. Id. The trial court granted Brayton’s motion for summary judgment and sustained objections to numerous statements where plaintiff denied he was employed in a professional capacity and performed work covered by the professional exemption. Id.

Plaintiff filed an action after voluntarily departing from the law firm, and alleged that he had been misclassified.  Brayton successfully moved for summary judgment on the ground that in the Law Clerk II position plaintiff had been an “exempt professional employee.” Id. Plaintiff appealed. Id. Continue reading

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Central District Issues Rare Opinion Rejecting Stipulated Protective Order

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Magistrate Judge Fernando M. Olguin issued a rare opinion about a stipulated protective order, rejecting the proposed  stipulated order in Murphy v. Continental Tire North America, Inc., No. CV 09-3004 GHK (FMOx), 2010 WL 3260183 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2010).  The court gave six  reasons for the rejection, including the failure to include a good cause statement (citing Makar-Wellbon v. Sony Elecs., Inc., 187 F.R.D. 576, 577 (E.D. Wis. 1999) (even stipulated protective orders require good cause showing)), lack of specificity in the description of the material to be protected (the parties used conclusory terms such as “confidential technical information”), and duration (“once a case proceeds to trial, all of the information that was designated as confidential and/or kept and maintained pursuant to the terms of a protective order becomes public and will be presumptively available to all members of the public, including the press, unless good cause is shown to the district judge in advance of the trial to proceed otherwise”).   Continue reading

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New Trial Granted for Arguing to Jury That Future Wages Are Recoverable Even After Resignation

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In an unreported opinion, Wolfson v. Tukatech, Inc., 2010 WL 3170521 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 12, 2010), the Second District Court of Appeal considered whether a new trial was correctly ordered after plaintiff’s attorney argued to the jury about plaintiff’s right to recover for his future wages.  The Court of Appeal affirmed the new trial order because the “record supports the trial court’s finding that Wolfson’s trial counsel committed prejudicial misconduct when arguing to the jury about Wolfson’s right to recover for his future wages”.

The court held that the plaintiff’s attorney misstated the law by “repeatedly argu[ing] unauthorized instructions whose flaws should have been obvious, even after repeated objections to those instructions were sustained”; thus, the court held “that the trial court did not abuse its broad discretion by finding that misconduct occurred.” Continue reading

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