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Be Ready for the Defense When Suing a City for a Pothole

In an earlier blog post, I discussed the elements of a claim against a public entity for dangerous condition of public property, such as a deep pothole or obscured signage at an intersection that causes a car accident. As a followup — and in response to a reader’s thoughtful comment — here are the defenses you may face when bringing such a claim. Even if all the elements of the claim are there, you always need to anticipate the public entity’s defenses. Continue reading

No Inheritance for Anna Nicole Smith: Ninth Circuit Was Right (Again) for the Wrong Reason

Update: In a reversal of fortune, the district court has awarded sanctions for discovery abuse in favor of Anna Nicole Smith’s estate and her daughter Dannielynn against the estate of her stepson, Pierce Marshall, and his attorney. In a sweeping decision (Marshall v Hilliard (In re Marshall) (CD Cal May 29, 2013, SACV-01-0097 DOC)), the court found that Marshall and his attorney had practiced a fraud on the court and made a mockery of the justice system by withholding or destroying documents, among other abuses. Smith’s estate now stands to collect much of the earlier damage award thrown out by the Ninth Circuit.

It isn’t often that a court is reversed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court in the same case and still had the right result. But in effect, that’s what happened to the Ninth Circuit in the Anna Nicole Smith case. Continue reading

Did Unreliable DNA Evidence Convict an American Student of Murder in Italy?

Update: An Italian appeals court threw out Knox’s murder conviction on October 3, 2011 and ordered her freed after 4 years in prison.

Amanda Knox was studying in Italy when her life changed forever: She was convicted of murdering her roommate. But there may be a glimmer of hope for Amanda, because two independent, court-appointed experts dispute as unreliable the DNA evidence that was crucial to the prosecution’s case. Sometimes a case can all come down to just how the evidence is collected and handled.

Continue reading

Tell It to the Judge: No Right to Jury Trial in State Income Tax Refund Action

In the bad old days, taxes were assessed by individual tax collectors with the power to seize property. The only good part was that jury trials were available at common law in actions against tax collectors to recover illegally collected taxes. But once federal tax collectors started transferring tax receipts to the U.S. treasury, and the common law action was replaced by a statutory action, the right to a jury trial disappeared for federal tax refund actions. The California Supreme Court has just decided to follow the federal lead and has held that there is no constitutional right to a jury trial in state tax refund actions. Continue reading

Changed Legal Landscape for Class Action Lawsuits

The following is a guest blog post by Myanna Dellinger, a law professor at Western State University School of Law.

In one of the largest class action law suits ever, Betsy Dukes and approximately 1.5 million current and former female Wal-mart employees brought suit for discrimination against women in Wal-Mart’s promotion and pay policies. The United States Supreme Court ruled against class certification in a decision that has significantly changed the legal landscape for large-scale federal class action lawsuits. Continue reading

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