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Decisions in Insurance, Labor, Attorney's Fees & Attorney Disqualification Matters

By FindLaw Staff on July 28, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kirby v. Immoos Fire Prot., Inc., C062306, concerned a challenge to the trial court's award of $49,846.05 in attorneys' fees to defendant following plaintiffs' dismissal of the suit after the trial court denied class certification, in plaintiffs' suit against defendant-employer as well as 750 Doe defendants for violating various labor laws and unfair competition law.  In affirming, the court held that the trial court did not err in ruling that section 1194 did not impose a complete bar on defendant's recovery of attorney's fees in this case, and as such, the trial court did not err in awarding attorney's fees to defendant for its defense against rest-period claim.  However, the court reversed in part as, the trial court erred in awarding attorney's fees for its defense against the alleged violations of section 2810, which prohibits entry into contracts lacking funds sufficient to comply with all wage and labor laws.  Lastly, the court denied defendant's request for attorney's fees on appeal as there is no prevailing party in this appeal.

Great Lakes Constr. Inc. v. Burman, B220034, involved contractors' suit against homeowners for libel and other claims, where the trial court granted plaintiffs' motion to disqualify defendants' counsel based on what they believed was an actual conflict in the joint representation.  In reversing the disqualification motion, the court held that, while the decision of a federal district court is not binding on this court, the minority rule in Coyler v. Smith (C.D. Cal. 1990) 50 Supp.2d 966, does not dispense with the standing requirements, and here, the non-client moving parties lack standing to bring a motion to disqualify as they have no legally cognizable interest in plaintiffs' counsel's undivided loyalty to his clients.

Clarendon Am. Ins. Co. v. Starnet Ins. Co., G042353, concerned an insurer's suit seeking indemnity, declaratory relief, and contribution from defendant insurer, arising from an underlying lawsuit by a homeowner's association for construction defect.  In affirming the judgment of the trial court in favor of the plaintiff, the court held that a provision in a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy requiring the insurer to defend the insured against any "suit" seeking damages to which the insurance applies includes the duty to defend the insured in proceedings under the Calderon Act.

Cellphone Fee Termination Cases, A124038, concerned a consolidated appeal of trial court's approval of the settlement, arising from one of several class action suits that challenge wireless telephone carriers' imposition of early termination fees on customers seeking to cancel cellular telephone contracts.  In affirming the approval, the court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in the manner of giving notice and the content of the notices were adequate.  The court also held the trial court was well within its discretion in approving a Plan Allocation awarding greater relief to those with documented out-of-pocket losses than those who suffered only intangible injury and, that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining the awards.

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