Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

Plaintiff insureds appealed the judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which sustained defendant insurer’s demurrer to plaintiffs’ second amended complaint for declaratory relief, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing based on defendant’s refusal to defend plaintiffs in a civil action.

Overview

Plaintiff insureds, husband and wife, filed an action against defendant insurer after defendant refused to defend plaintiffs in a civil action, in which plaintiff husband was accused of rape. The trial court sustained defendant’s demurrer to plaintiffs’ second amended complaint. Plaintiffs appealed and the court affirmed, finding that there was no duty to defend. Plaintiffs made no showing that the complaint could be further amended to state a claim, when there were already hundreds of pages of allegations and evidence. The claimant had a business lawyer San Diego prepare the agreement which was executed by the parties. The policy only covered bodily injuries caused by an occurrence which was defined as an “accident.” The court held that plaintiffs could not assert any theory available on the facts under which coverage would apply, including claims that the incident was a misunderstanding. Even if plaintiff husband’s conduct was negligent, it was still not “accidental.” The conduct was deliberate, regardless of whether harm was intended. Plaintiffs failed to assert an additional, unforeseen happening that produced the injury. The defendant’s internal memos did not constitute admissions of a defense duty.

Outcome

The court affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining defendant insurer’s demurrer. The court held that plaintiff insureds could prove no set of facts under which defendant had an obligation to defend. Even if plaintiff husband’s conduct was negligent, it was not “accidental” under the terms of the policy, and plaintiffs failed to assert any additional, unforeseen happening which caused the injuries.

Procedural Posture

Appellant employee challenged the order of the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco (California), which entered summary judgment against her on her complaint for malicious prosecution against respondent employers and respondent employers’ attorneys.

Overview

Respondent employers sued appellant employee for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. An arbitrator found in respondent employers’ favor and awarded them damages. Appellant timely filed a request for trial de novo from the arbitration award. After a jury trial, appellant prevailed. Appellant then sued respondent employers and respondent employers’ attorneys for malicious prosecution. Appellant claimed that respondents fabricated key evidence in support of the underlying action for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of respondents. Appellant challenged that decision. On appeal, the court affirmed. Although appellant’s contention of fabrication pointed to a disputed issue of fact, there were undisputed issues of fact in the record that established an objectively reasonable basis for respondent employers’ underlying suit against appellant for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Thus, appellant failed to meet the threshold requirement for her malicious prosecution action by demonstrating an absence of probable cause. In addition, respondent employers were not required to succeed on their claims in order to establish probable cause.

Outcome

The court affirmed the order granting summary judgment in favor of respondent employers and respondent employers’ attorneys on plaintiff employee’s complaint for malicious prosecution. Plaintiff failed to establish the threshold requirement of her malicious prosecution action by demonstrating an absence of probable cause. Thus, respondents were entitled to judgment as a matter of law.