Procedural Posture

Appellant insured challenged a judgment from the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which ruled that she was not insured for expected or intended acts in connection with the management of an apartment building and that she had a joint and several obligation to reimburse respondent commercial general liability insurer for the full amount of a payment made by the insurer under a reservation of rights to settle tenants’ tort claims.

Overview

The insured was a co-owner of the apartment building with her husband, and the property was held as community property. She participated in the management of the property, which had received a notice of code violations. The tenants’ lawsuit alleged unsafe and unsanitary conditions. The court held that substantial evidence supported the trial court’s findings, under a subjective standard, that coverage was precluded under the policy and Ins. Code, § 533, because the insured expected or intended the tenants’ injuries. The violation notice and other evidence showed that the insured knew of the substandard conditions and was not an innocent insured. Moreover, the trial court did not err in its allocation when it ruled that the insured had a joint and several obligation to reimburse the insurer for the full amount of its settlement payment. The insured’s liability in the tenants’ action was joint and several, and her community property interest was liable under Fam. Code, § 910. As a joint venturer, she was not protected by the statutory cap on noneconomic damages in Civ. Code, §§ 1431.1, 1431.2. Faced with significant liability exposure, she received the full benefit of the settlement. Parties’ litigation lawyer Los Angeles appeal.

Outcome

The court affirmed the judgment.

Procedural Posture

Plaintiffs, newspaper home delivery carriers, alleged that defendant publisher improperly classified them as independent contractors rather than employees and violated California labor laws. The Superior Court for Los Angeles County, California, denied their motion to certify a class under Civ. Code, § 382, and the carriers appealed.

Overview

The court of appeal held that the trial court erred in finding that the independent contractor-employee issue was not amenable to class treatment. Because all of the carriers performed the same job under virtually identical contracts, variations in how they performed their jobs was simply common evidence that tended to show the publisher’s lack of control over certain aspects of the carriers’ work. Conflicting evidence about the publisher’s policies presented common issues as to whether certain policies existed and whether the existing policies controlled the result, rather than the manner and means used to accomplish the result. Secondary issues could also be established through common proof, since almost all of those factors related to the type of work, which was common to the class. Certification was properly denied, however, as to overtime and meal/rest claims, which were not amenable to class treatment because of wide variation in the amount of time each carrier spent performing the required work, and their varied use of helpers or substitutes. The trial court properly found that individual inquiries would have to be made to determine liability as to each carrier.

Outcome

The court affirmed the order denying class certification as to the overtime and meal/rest period causes of action. The court reversed the order denying class certification as to the remaining claims, with directions that the court certify the class unless it determined that individual issues predominated or that class treatment was not appropriate for other reasons.

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