COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – San Mateo County Emergency Regulation Regarding Evictions and Rent Payments

On March 24, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the County of San Mateo adopted Emergency Regulation 2020-001 to help tenants who are directly impacted by COVID-19.  The Emergency Regulation includes a moratorium on evictions from residential properties for (1) nonpayment of rent by tenants directly impacted by COVID-19, and (2) no-fault evictions unless…

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Wrongful Death: Oakland “Ghost Ship” Warehouse Fire

The Oakland “Ghost Ship” Warehouse Fire that took the lives of so many local members of our community is a devastating tragedy.  The fact that the incident appears to be a result of negligence and recklessness makes dealing with the emotions that much more infuriating.  Initial reports have indicated that the owner of the building…

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Contract Law: The creator of Jungle Book’s famed song “Bare Necessities” almost lost his royalties by forgetting the bare necessities.

Case Update: The heirs of Terry Gilkyson, the songwriter of Jungle Book’s famed song “Bare Necessities”, sued Disney for Disney’s alleged failure to pay royalties in connection to the use of the song.  Generally, the statute of limitations for a written contract in California is 4 years.  Disney argued that the plaintiffs’ claim is stale as…

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Contract Law: College is the place to make mistakes and these college kids got saved from theirs. When the manner in which a contract is entered into is unconscionable, the court will not enforce the contract against the aggrieved party.

Case Review: While this case is not the most extreme example of unconscionability being applied, Magno v. The College Network, Inc. is a recent case in which procedural unconscionability was used to successfully avoid a provision in a written and executed contract. Three California college students were approached in their homes by an Indiana based company offering…

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Landlord-Tenant: Tenants who intend to use their unit for short term rentals, like Airbnb, must pay close attention to their rental agreement and local laws or risk being evicted.

Case Summary: A case out of Los Angeles, Chen v. Kraft (2016) 243 Cal.App.4thSupp.13, allowed a landlord to evict a tenant who was using their unit for short term rentals despite the tenant having express authority to do so from the predecessor landlord.  In Los Angeles, the Rent Stabilization Ordinance prohibits short term rentals in…

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Family Law: When party’s respective resources are not balanced, courts will do what they can to equal the playing field.

Case Summary In the marriage dissolution custody and support case of In re Marriage of Smith (2015) E060373, Mother was financing her litigation with over $400,000 of her parents’ money while Father used credit cards to pay his attorney’s fees.  What was more concerning for the court, was that Mother’s attorneys, being heavily financed, crossed the line…

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Landlord-Tenant: Landlord not liable to landscaper for injuries sustained after he stepped on a homemade bomb the tenant left in the yard.

A California Appellate Court decided, in the case Garcia v. Holt (2016) 242 Cal.App 4th 600, that a landlord is not liable to the landscaper for injuries sustained after he stepped on a homemade bomb the tenant left in the yard.  The Court noted that due to the landlord not having actual or constructive notice of the…

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Personal Injury: He walked into a haunted house but got so scared he sued. True story.

A California appellate court affirmed a trial court’s judgment in which the operator of a Halloween haunted house was found not liable to a patron who was injured after experiencing “scary fear” rather than “fun fear”.  The case, Griffin v. Haunted Hotel, Inc. D066714, involved a situation in which a hotel’s haunted attraction lead patrons through a…

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Family Law: A case about parental discipline. Does spanking your child on the rare occasion categorically constitute “serious physical harm” sufficient to invoke dependency jurisdiction?

A California appellate court, in the case In re D.M., B260549, was asked to determine whether a parent who would occasionally spank her children, ages seven and four, with her hand and sandal was necessarily causing serious physical harm to the level that required dependency jurisdiction, thereby making the children dependents of the court.  The dependency court…

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