Thursday, August 15, 2013
S.C. Rejects Depublication Request In Disqualification Case
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court yesterday denied a request to depublish a Court of Appeal opinion holding that a lawyer who sued Ford Motor Co. for selling his client a defective automobile should not have been disqualified merely because he handled the same types of cases when he worked for Ford four years earlier.
Ford had asked the high court to remove the precedential effect of the ruling by Div. Four that allows Payam Shahian and his firm, Strategic Legal Practices, to represent Benham Khani in a suit against Ford and Galpin Motors, Inc. But the justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco, voted unanimously to deny the request.
Khani sued under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, better known as the Lemon Law, based on sale of a 2008 Navigator. The law requires the maker of a defective new car, or its authorized dealer, to honor an express written warranty by repairing the vehicle, and to replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price if the car cannot be satisfactorily repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.
The opinion by Presiding Justice Norman Epstein was filed April 2 and certified April 25 for publication.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy Hogue had reasoned that the legal issues in Lemon Law cases are substantially similar, and that Ford was entitled to a presumption that Shahian was exposed to confidential information, and granted the motion to disqualify.
But Epstein, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the ruling was legally erroneous because Ford failed to show that the cases were substantially related. The trial judge’s assumption that all Lemon Law cases are substantially related because the legal issues are similar was mistaken, he said.
“The substantial relationship test requires comparison not only of the legal issues involved in successive representations, but also of evidence bearing on the materiality of the information the attorney received during the earlier representation,” he explained.
The case is Khani v. Ford Motor Co., 13 S.O.S. 2092.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company