Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Younessi v. Woolf (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 16, 2016)

As the legal world continues to buzz about potential nominees to replace Justice Scalia, the hum-drum business of actually deciding appeals continues apace.  Today, fortunately, has a theme.

It's Bad Attorney Day.

From the state side, we have this opinion.  Counsel for plaintiff failed to respond to discovery, failed to oppose a demurrer, and failed to timely amend the complaint, resulting in the dismissal of his lawsuit.


Here's what the attorney says about all this:  "According to [George] Wass, in March he agreed to represent plaintiffs in this action. Wass admitted that he received the substitution of attorney form signed by Drescher on April 1, but claimed he forgot to sign it because he was preparing for trial. Wass denied knowing about the pending demurrers and motions to strike, asserting, 'Drescher did not mention [them],' and his office 'apparently . . . missed' the entries for these pleadings when reviewing the register of actions. But Wass did acknowledge learning of the pending discovery motions. In mid-April, he attempted to discuss them with Woolf's attorney. Opposing counsel told Wass that he could not do so 'until he received the Substitution of Attorney.' According to Wass, he again failed to file the substitution of attorney because he 'got distracted.' Wass claimed he finally learned about the demurrers and the court's ruling which allowed leave to amend in mid-May, and 'just assumed we got 30 days' to file an amended complaint."

Not really how you'd like to permanently appear in the pages of the California Appellate Reports, I'd imagine.

Still, plaintiffs get relief from the Court of Appeal.  Though grudgingly.  "[W]e reluctantly affirm the trial court's order vacating the dismissal."

So that's something.

Meanwhile, on the federal side, we have this opinion.  It's a $2.7 million sanctions award as the "direct result of repeated, deliberate decisions by [attorneys] Hancock, Musnuff, and Goodyear to delay the production of relevant information, make misleading and false in-court statements, and conceal relevant documents."  Judge Watford dissents, and requests rehearing en banc.  But today, that request is voted down.  End of story.

But don't feel too bad for Judge Watford.  He'll just have to settle for the speculation that he may perhaps be the next nominee to the Supreme Court.

Sort of makes up for losing a particular en banc vote, I imagine.