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Case Summaries

Attorney's Fees

[06/21] Monster, LLC v. Beats Electronics, LLC
In a petition for writ of mandate in an underlying tort action in which Monster alleged that Beats Electronics engaged in fraud to deprive them of interest in the company, and the headphone manufacturer filed cross-claims for breach of contract and argued that the court, rather than a jury, could determine the amount of damages, the petition is granted where defendant is entitled to a jury trial on the issue of attorney's fees.

[06/13] Webb v. Webb
In a dissolution of marriage appeal, the trial court's judgment granting attorney fees is reversed where Family Code section 271 does not authorize the court to award sanctions to non-parties, but rather is intended to promote settlement of family law litigation through shifting fees between the parties to the litigation.

[06/08] Snyder v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
In a petition for review of a precedential opinion of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) General Counsel, which concerned attorney's fees, the petition is denied over petitioner's argument that 38 C.F.R. section 20.1302 requires dismissal of a veteran?s pending appeal upon his death, a pending dispute over attorney fees under section 5904 terminates upon the veteran?s death.

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[06/21] Stadnick v. Vivint Solar, Inc.
In a securities class action complaint, the plaintiff wanted the court to apply a 1st Circuit test for financial disclosures and argued they were misled by the company, but the Court of Appeals declined to adopt the 1st Circuit test and concluded the shareholders were not misled, affirming the district court's decision.

[06/12] SolarCity Corp. v. Salt River Agricultural Improvement and Power Dist.
In an antitrust lawsuit alleging a power district had attempted to entrench its monopoly by setting prices that disfavored solar-power providers, defendant's appeal of the district court?s order, denying its motion to dismiss the suit based on the state-action immunity doctrine, is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction where the collateral order doctrine does not allow an immediate appeal of an order denying a dismissal motion based on state-action immunity.

[06/05] E.J. Brooks Co. v. Cambridge Sec. Seals
In a suit for misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment under New York law, the district court's judgment is affirmed as it relates to defendant's liability but deferred pending the resolution of two questions certified to the New York Court of Appeals.

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Banking Law

[05/22] Hardwick v. Wilcox
In an action arising out of a series of loans defendant made to plaintiff, to recover usurious interest and prevent defendant from foreclosing on property securing his loans, the trial court's judgment -- that plaintiff's usurious interest payments made over the course of the relationship offset the principal debt, and that plaintiff could recover interest payments he made during the two years prior to the filing of this lawsuit -- is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff did not waive his usury claim; and 2) the statute of limitations does not bar plaintiff's claim with respect to any loan that was paid off more than two years before this lawsuit was filed.

[05/09] Starr Int'l Co., Inc. v. US
In a suit arising out of a loan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York under which the federal Government acquired a majority stake in American International Group, Inc. (AIG)'s equity, which the Government eventually converted into common stock and sold, brought by an AIG shareholder alleging that the Government's acquisition of AIG equity and subsequent actions relating to a reverse stock split were unlawful, the Claims Court's judgment that the Government committed an illegal exaction and remand with instructions to dismiss the equity-acquisition claims that seek direct relief is: 1) vacated in part where plaintiffs lack standing to pursue the equity-acquisition claims directly, as those claims belong exclusively to AIG; and 2) affirmed in part as to the denial of direct relief for the reverse-stock-split claims.

[05/03] Berman v. HSBC Bank
In an action brought by a plaintiff who was denied a loan modification by defendant bank, seeking injunctive relief under Civil Code section 2924.12 on the theory that the bank's denial letter was a material violation of section 2923.6(d) in that the letter only provided fifteen days for appeal instead of the thirty days as provided under that statute, the trial court's judgment sustaining the demurrer to plaintiff's complaint without leave to amend based on the conclusion that he had not alleged a violation of section 2923.6, is reversed where the denial letter constituted a material violation of section 2923.6 because it substantially misstated the time plaintiff was allowed by the law to appeal defendant's denial of his application for a loan modification.

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Administrative Law

[06/26] Said Hassen v. Government of the Virgin Islands
The dismissal of a wrongful levy claim against the US Virgin Islands was affirmed because the appellants had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.

[06/15] Grist Creek Aggregates v. Super. Ct.
In an environmental group's writ of administrative mandate challenging the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District's approval of a permit to construct an asphalt production facility, claiming that the asphalt company-applicant should have conducted an environmental review and that the District and Hearing Board violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Pub. Resources Code section 21000 et seq., and District regulations by failing to order applicant to conduct one, the petition is granted where the Hearing Board's tie vote resulted in the denial of petitioners' administrative appeal and that the denial is subject to judicial review.

[06/14] Helen Mining Co v. Elliott
In a suit under the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA), 30 U.S.C. sections 901-45, which confers on coal workers generally the right to claim workers' compensation benefits for disabilities arising out of coal dust exposure, the Benefits Review Board's award of benefits is affirmed and the operator's petition for review is denied where: 1) operators are subject to the regulation's rebuttal standard because a 2013 regulation, specifying the standard a coal mine operator must meet to rebut the presumed element of disability causation, permissibly fills a statutory gap in the legislation; and 2) the record adequately supports the ALJ?s conclusion that the operator did not meet that rebuttal standard in this case.

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Asset Forfeiture

[06/12] US v. Gorman
In a civil forfeiture action, the district court's order granting claimant's motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a traffic stop and order granting attorney's fees are affirmed where: 1) the first stop of claimant's vehicle was unreasonably prolonged in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and 2) none of the exceptions to the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' doctrine applied.

[06/05] Honeycutt v. US
In an action brought by the Government under Comprehensive Forfeiture Act of 1984, 21 U.S.C. section 853(a)(1), seeking forfeiture property constituting or derived from proceeds obtained as the result of certain drug crimes, against a defendant who was convicted with his brother of federal drug crimes, the Sixth Circuit's judgment holding that the brothers, as co-conspirators, were jointly and severally liable for any conspiracy proceeds, is reversed where, because forfeiture pursuant to section 853(a)(1) is limited to property the defendant himself actually acquired as the result of the crime, that provision does not permit forfeiture with regard to defendant, who had no ownership interest in his brother's store and did not personally benefit from the illegal sales.

[03/15] ECC Capital v. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
In an appeal from a judgment confirming a final arbitration award of attorneys' fees, expert fees, and costs against plaintiffs and in favor of defendants as the prevailing party in an underlying arbitration of legal malpractice claims, the award is affirmed over plaintiff's meritless or forfeited arguments that the trial court erred in confirming the arbitrator's interim award denying its claims because the arbitrator violated mandatory disclosure rules governing arbitrations, and that the trial court erred in confirming the final award because defendant's engagement agreement was illegal, defendant obtained the award by fraud, and the arbitrator limited plaintiff's rights to take discovery and present evidence at the arbitration on the issue of defendant's conflict of interest.

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