Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rossdale Group LLC v. Walton (Cal. Ct. App. - June 15, 2017)

I often tell my students that capacity and standing are two different things, with different rules and procedures.  Justice Rushing amply highlights those differences in today's opinion.

The Court of Appeal's limited holding is that -- at least for standing purposes -- it's okay for a corporate entity to sue under a registered d/b/a, even if that's not its formal legal name.  But more broadly, the Court of Appeal also says that (again, for standing purposes anyway) it's even okay to sue under whatever name you'd like, even one that's totally fake.  So if I, Shaun Martin, want to sue as "John Doe", we know that's okay (fictitious names), at least in California.  But apparently I can sue under the name "Barack Obama" if I want to as well, as long as I'm asserting my own claims rather than this.  I can see some practical problems with that, but I concede I'm not exactly sure where they fall in the standing/capacity continuum, and, yeah, I guess it's not an actual standing issue since they are MY claims.  As long as I was the one who was, say, run over and injured, and that injury is what I'm indeed suing for, if I want to call myself Barack Obama, or the Tooth Fairy, in the complaint, I guess at least for purposes of today's holding, that lawsuit gets to go forward.

Interesting stuff.

It gets more complicated when, as here, the underlying corporate entity was dissolved.  Now, that is definitely an issue of capacity.  But there's a dispute about that; the plaintiff says that its assets and liabilities were taken over by another entity, the opposing party says that's not entirely true, etc. etc.

But that's not a standing issue.  That's something else.  SOMEONE was injured.  And SOMEONE is claiming to be that person.  Maybe they are, maybe they aren't.  When you're dealing with admittedly fictional entities like corporations and LLCs, that's maybe not so easy to tell.

So that's an issue.  Just not, as Justice Rushing explains, one that involves standing.