Homeowners victorious over Homeowners Association (HOA)
In this matter, a group of homeowners’ ocean views were blocked by their neighbors’ palm trees. The homeowners association (“HOA”) refused to enforce the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (“CC&Rs”) that required that the trees be trimmed. The homeowners sued the HOA to comply with the CC&Rs and enforce the tree trimming. At trial, the homeowners were victorious and obtained an injunction ordering the HOA to trim the trees. The HOA appealed the judgment and the homeowners then retained Mr. Lewis to ensure that their hard fought trial victory would stand up on appeal. The HOA argued that 1) the HOA’s decisions were entitled to deference and insulated from any review by the courts; 2) the trial court’s order was vague; and 3) the homeowners were required to sue every tree owner in addition to the HOA to obtain any relief. The Court of Appeal rejected each of the HOA’s arguments and the homeowners’ injunction against the HOA was affirmed.
The Ekstrom decision confirmed that a doctrine similar to the “Business Judgment Rule” applies to HOA decisions but that the HOA must plead the doctrine as an affirmative defense or its waived at trial.
In this matter, the Court of Appeal found that the trial court had not properly conducted an in camera hearing to examine the contents of the arresting officer’s personnel file and, therefore, the Court of Appeal could not conclude whether the criminal defendant had the right to receive and review the personnel file for evidence of complaints against the officer for perjury, planting evidence, etc. The Court of Appeal conditionally reversed the defendant’s conviction to allow for the hearing to be conducted properly and to ascertain whether the defendant’s right to such documents had been observed. Mr. Lewis represented the defendant by appointment by the Court of Appeal.
Bloggers afforded same protection as traditional journalists
In O’Grady v. Superior Court, Apple Computer, Inc. issued subpoenas to identify the source of a leak by one of its employees of a new product. The subpoenas were directed to a website blogger and the blogger’s email service provider. The blogger asked the trial court to quash the subpoenas. The trial court denied that request. The blogger appealed. Mr. Lewis filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of a group of bloggers to brief the court on the need to afford bloggers with the same reporter’s shield protection available to traditional journalists. The Court of Appeal overturned the trial court and directed that the subpoenas be quashed.
In this matter, Mr. Lewis represented a party that had previously been sued for negligence, fraud and conversion. In an ensuing malicious prosecution action, the trial court erroneously dismissed the malicious prosecution action. On appeal, Mr. Lewis successfully argued that the prior action lacked probable cause and the claim for malicious prosecution should be reinstated.
West American Insurance Company v. Valles (Nov. 20, 2020, No. B296771) Jeff Lewis Law represented an employee injured while driving in an appeal against his employer’s uninsured motorist carrier. The trial court had entered declaratory judgment against the injured worker holding that no recovery could be asserted against the uninsured motorist carrier because the employee had not obtained benefits through worker’s compensation. Attorney Sean Rotstan was the lead attorney for this appeal and obtained a reversal on appeal.
Chi v. Superior Court (Jun. 19, 2020, No. B306262)
Jeff Lewis Law represented a criminal defendant in a writ proceeding who sought to exercise a peremptory challenge for an appeal. The defendant sought to challenge the judge assigned to sentence him on the grounds that the trial judge had received an improper ex parte communication. The trial judge elected to review and dispose of the peremptory challenge himself rather than deferring to another department. On June 19, 2020, Division Five of the Second District Court of Appeal issued an order to show cause which prompted the trial court to vacate its prior order on the peremptory challenge.
Jeff Lewis Law represented a party who had appealed an illegal civil harassment restraining order (CCP 527.6) wrongfully entered in favor of a neighbor. After having a restraining order served on her, this neighbor retaliated by petitioning for a TRO vs. our client after she and her husband submitted false statements under the penalty of perjury. Jeff Lewis argued that not one of the half-dozen prerequisites for such a restraining order to be granted had been satisfied, and that the trial court judge’s opinion violated our client’s First Amendment right. The Second District Court of Appeal agreed in its ruling that the neighbor’s evidence of claimed harassment did not meet CCP 527.6’s definition on at least one of these elements, there was no threat of violence but instead the neighbor had made such false claim, and Jeff Lewis’ client had not received due process. The restraining order was dissolved. In related criminal proceedings relating to fabricated allegations that our client had violated the illegal restraining order, the District Attorney dismissed all charges following the reversal by the Court of Appeal.
Jeff Lewis Law represented on appeal a party in a dissolution matter. The family law court had awarded substantial attorney’s fees. Jeff Lewis Law handled the briefing and argument on appeal. That award was upheld on appeal.
Jeff Lewis Law represented on appeal a party going through a divorce. As a result of a private judging decision, she obtained a five figure marital support award and a favorable division of property. Jeff Lewis Law handled the briefing and argument on appeal and obtained a complete affirmance of the award.
Jeff Lewis Law represented on appeal a party whose ex spouse had sought a domestic violence restraining order. The trial court denied the order. Jeff Lewis Law handled the briefing and argument on appeal. That result was upheld on appeal.
In this case, Mr. Lewis represented a homeowner on appeal who had claims against her homeowners association for approving a neighbor’s construction project in violation of the CC&R’s. The trial court entered summary judgment against the homeowner. Mr. Lewis obtained a reversal on appeal allowing the claim to proceed to trial.
Duncan v. Superior Court (June 30, 2010, Supreme Court Case No. S182188).
Mr. Lewis represented on appeal a person who had property seized by the LAPD. The property was never used in a criminal trial nor was it subject to forfeiture proceedings. Mr. Lewis represented Mr. Duncan in the California Supreme Court and obtained an order from that court directing the LAPD to return the confiscated property.
In Mishler v. Kinder, Mr. Lewis represented on appeal one of three daughters who were litigating the disposition of their father’s estate. At the trial court level, the probate court disinherited the daughter and imposed an attorney’s fee award against her. On appeal, Mr. Lewis obtained a complete reversal, reinstated the daughter’s inheritance and overturned the adverse attorney’s fee award. The Court of Appeal reversed under the stringent “substantial evidence” standard.
In Martin v. Avigdor, Mr. Lewis represented a husband and wife who were potential buyers of a home. When escrow did not close for the purchase of the home, the seller’s real estate agent sued the potential buyers for a “lost” commission on the sale. The potential buyers lost at trial and were ordered to pay the broker the “lost” commission plus attorney’s fees. After the trial, Mr. Lewis took over the case on appeal. The Fourth District Court of Appeal granted a complete reversal of the judgment and relieved the potential buyers of any obligation to pay the broker for the commission.
In Christakes v. Ekstrom, Mr. Lewis represented a group of homeowners who were sued for malicious prosecution. At the trial court level, Mr. Lewis successfully obtained a dismissal of the malicious prosecution action using California’s anti-SLAPP statute. However, the trial court granted Mr. Lewis’ clients only a fraction of their out of pocket legal fees. Because this order was contrary to the spirit of California’s anti-SLAPP law, Mr. Lewis argued to the Court of Appeal that the attorney’s fee award should be enlarged to include 100 percent of the out of pocket legal costs that his clients. The Court of Appeal agreed with Mr. Lewis, reversed the attorney’s fee award and ordered the trial court to award the full amount of Mr. Lewis’ client’s costs and attorney’s fees.
Pyrovest Corporation v. Anaheim Plaza, LLC (Feb. 19, 2003 California Court of Appeal, Case Nos. G029127, G030561).
In this real estate litigation matter, defendants successfully moved for summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ failure to mitigate damages. On appeal, the summary judgment was upheld despite the fact-intensive nature of this affirmative defense.
Chmielewski vs. Molly M. Perry (Dec. 14, 2020 No. 30-2020-01156399-CU-WM-CJC)
In the Fall 2020 election, Irvine City Council candidate Mark Newgent described himself on the ballot as a Retired Army Captain. This description was indisputably true given Mark Newgent’s long service in the army. A local blogger, Dan Chmielewski, filed a lawsuit challenging that description. In advance of the election, Jeff Lewis Law represented Newgent and obtained a court ruling approving Newgent’s chosen ballot description. After the election, Jeff Lewis Law obtained a court order declaring Chmielewski’s lawsuit to be a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).
Jeff Lewis Law represented an owner of real estate attempting to sell their property. A squatter recorded a lis pendens and demanded a settlement to allow escrow to close. Jeff Lewis Law filed a motion to expunge the lis pendens and that motion was successful. The lis pendens was expunged and the property owner sold her property.
Jeff Lewis Law represented a candidate for City Council who was sued based on the words chosen to describe his occupation. Jeff Lewis handled the briefing and argument and the client prevailed. His chosen words were permitted to be printed on the ballot.
Jeff Lewis Law represented two members of a three member limited liability company that sold a retail development for several million dollars. When the parties could not agree as to the division of profits, an arbitration was commenced with the American Arbitration Association to resolve the dispute. Following a two-week arbitration in Orange County, Jeff Lewis Law’s clients were awarded their primary relief regarding division of profits, were declared the prevailing parties and were awarded their attorney’s fees.
Jeff Lewis Law represented a healthcare provider sued by a former employee for two million dollars for age discrimination and wage and hour claims. The firm obtained a complete defense judgment for its client.
Vogele v. Williams (Orange County Superior Court, Case No. 30-2012-00558522).
Mr. Lewis represented two plaintiffs in a malicious prosecution action. Over the course of five years, Mr. Lewis defeated three anti-SLAPP motions and three summary judgment motions and the matter proceeded to trial. Following a one-month jury trial, Mr. Lewis obtained a unanimous jury verdict on liability and an award of punitive damages.
Gallo v. Takano (Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC618932).
In this high profile First Amendment case, Mr. Lewis represented a journalist sued by celebrity Vincent Gallo over claims of violation of right to privacy and illegal recordings. Mr. Lewis filed an anti-SLAPP motion, obtained a complete dismissal of the action and an award of attorney’s fees for his client.
Hotdoggers, Inc. v. Mueller (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC562760, 2014).
Mr. Lewis represented a defendant sued for malicious prosecution in connection with proceedings before the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Mr. Lewis filed an anti-SLAPP motion resulting in the case being dismissed and the client receiving an award of attorney’s fees and costs.
Copenbarger v. Johnson (Riverside Superior Court Case No. RIC 1313995 2014).
Jeff Lewis represented a defendant sued for malicious prosecution. Mr. Lewis filed an anti-SLAPP motion resulting in the case being dismissed and the client receiving an award of attorney’s fees and costs.
Hammes Company Healthcare, LLC v. Tri-City Healthcare District, 801 F.Supp.2d 1023 (S.D. Cal. 2011).
Mr. Lewis represented a Southern California hospital that hired Hammes Company Healthcare to build a medical office building. The project failed, and in the ensuing litigation, Hammes sought $20 million and asserted five claims against the hospital, its CEO and its director of business affairs for breach of contract, fraud and promissory estoppel. Mr. Lewis moved for summary judgment and prevailed as to 5 of the 6 claims. Following summary judgment in 2011, Mr. Lewis obtained a defense judgment at trial of the one remaining claim.
Mr. Lewis filed a challenge to ballot language in the November 2010 election in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. Mr. Lewis contended that the ballot proponent included “false and misleading” arguments. Mr. Lewis prevailed, obtained injunctive relief and the rebuttal argument was ordered revised to exclude the misleading statement.
Results are based on facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee.