Lafayette & Kumagai has handled a number of high profile appeals, including appeals at the California Courts of Appeal, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. The following cases are representative of the firm’s breadth of appellate experience.
Appellate Practice – Representative Cases
Rucker, et al. v. Davis, Oakland Housing Authority – The firm argued and won an appeal in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the Oakland Housing Authority in an action challenging the constitutionality of the agency’s “one strike” rule, which enables the agency to evict a tenant for use of illegal drugs on the premises by the tenant, its family members or guests. HUD v. Rucker, 535 U.S. 125 (2002); Rucker v. Davis, 304 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 2002); Rucker v. Davis, 237 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2001); Rucker v. Davis, 203 F.3d 627 (9th Cir. 2000)
Alvis v. AT&T Disability Income Plan – Plaintiff alleged wrongful denial of short term disability benefits. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in its entirety and affirmed on appeal. Alvis v. AT&T, 377 Fed.Appx. 673 (9th Cir. 2010)
Embury v. King – Plaintiff, a physician and researcher, claimed he was entitled to tenure and could not be terminated for deficiencies in his performance. The Court of Appeals reversed the denial of Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Embury v. King, 179 Fed.Appx. 409 (9th Cir. 2006); Embury v. King, 361 F.3d 562 (9th Cir. 2004); Embury v. King, 191 F.Supp.2d 1071 (2001)
Honeywell v. San Francisco Housing Authority – Plaintiff first filed suit for $10.5 million, claiming that its contract to make energy-saving improvements to 13 senior housing complexes with the San Francisco Housing Authority was valid. The Housing Authority, represented by Lafayette & Kumagai, contended that Plaintiff invalidated the contract by failing to secure the necessary financing as required by a prior agreement and that work completed certificates had been obtained during a round of office layoffs amid the HUD takeover of the agency. When the Housing Authority denied the existence of a contract, Plaintiff filed a qui tam action against the Housing Authority under the federal False Claims Act, contending that the Housing Authority had applied for and received federal funding by representing that it did have a contract with Plaintiff. The breach of contract action was tried to a jury; after two hours of deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict. Following the trial, Defendant moved to dismiss the qui tam action, in part on grounds that damages under the False Claims Act are essentially punitive in nature, and there is a presumption against imposing punitive damages against governmental entities based on a recent U. S. Supreme Court decision. The District Court agreed and dismissed the qui tam action. U.S. ex rel. Honeywell, Inc. v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 83 Fed.Appx. 181 (9th Cir. 2003); Honeywell v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 164 F.Supp.2d 1130 (2001)
Unicom Computers v. International Business Machines – Lafayette & Kumagai represented IBM in a preference action filed by debtor Unicom Computers, represented by the bankruptcy firm of Goldberg, Stinnett & MacDonald. The claim involved a $1 million dispute. IBM prevailed at trial after successfully arguing that IBM met the “ordinary course of business” exception. In re Unicom Corp., 21 F.3d 1116 (9th Cir. 1994)
FDIC v. Berr – United States District Court, Eastern District. Lafayette & Kumagai represented the FDIC in a bankruptcy adversary proceeding seeking to avoid the borrower’s discharge of debt to the FDIC. This action involved a “straw borrower” who was alleged to have conspired with insiders in a scheme to defraud the Indian Springs State Bank in Kansas. The debtor sought to discharge his debt in bankruptcy and offered as his defense the fact that the bank vice president knew he was acting as a “straw borrower.” Lafayette & Kumagai relied upon D’Oench Duhme & Company v. FDIC, 315 U.S. 447 (1942) in a successful defense at trial. In re Berr (Berr v. FDIC), 172 BR 299 (9th Cir. BAP 1994)
Reeves v. MV Transportation Inc. – The California Court of Appeal affirmed the Superior Court’s grant of Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a case in which an attorney claimed that he was wrongfully denied a position as an employment attorney in Defendant’s legal department because of his age. In affirming the trial court’s decision, the Court of Appeal held that inconsistencies regarding the employer’s decisions for its actions did not demonstrate a triable issue of fact regarding the intent to discriminate. Defendant MV Transportation, Inc. was represented by Gary T. Lafayette of Lafayette & Kumagai LLP. Reeves v. MV Transportation, Inc., 186 Cal.App.4th 666 (2010)
Cerna v. Oakland Unified School District – The firm argued and won an appeal in the California Court of Appeal on behalf of the Oakland Unified School District in an action where the Court held that a city intersection did not create a dangerous condition for students and the school district was not responsible for the safety of students off school premises. Cerna v. City of Oakland, 161 Cal.App.4th 1340 (2008)
Wellpoint Health Networks, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County – The firm argued and won an appeal in the California Court of Appeal on behalf of Blue Cross of California in an action challenging work place investigations. Wellpoint Health Networks, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 59 Cal.App.4th 110 (1997)
Donohue v. San Francisco Housing Authority – The firm used an application of the “Fireman’s Rule” to bring this case to a successful resolution for the San Francisco Housing Authority. Donohue v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 16 Cal.App.4th 658 (1993); Donohue v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 281 Cal.Rptr. 446 (1991)
Kukoyi v. AT&T Services, Inc. – Plaintiff sued his former employer, alleging national origin, race, age and disability discrimination, retaliation, harassment, failure to accommodate and wrongful termination. Defendant argued that Plaintiff was terminated for poor job performance. Lafayette & Kumagai filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in Contra Costa County Superior Court on behalf of Defendant. The Court found that Plaintiff failed to meet his prima facie burden and that Defendant had unequivocally established a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for Plaintiff’s termination. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in full and affirmed on appeal. 2015.
Everidge v. Sutter Health – Plaintiff sued her employer alleging race discrimination. The Court ruled in favor of Defendant, despite Plaintiff’s submission of declarations from co-workers who believed Everidge had been discriminated against. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in full and affirmed on appeal. 2009.
Guyette, et al. v. Viacom, et al. – California Court of Appeal, First District. The firm represented Viacom in opposition to plaintiffs’ appeal to have the funds that were not distributed in the first phase be distributed in a second phase and to have Viacom pay the administrative fees needed to distribute the funds the second time.
Meskunas v. San Francisco Housing Authority – Lafayette & Kumagai successfully represented the San Francisco Housing Authority in an action by residents who sought to prevent the construction of new low income housing in the Western Addition. The residents claimed that the City violated the California Environmental Quality Act by improperly issuing construction, demolition and conditional-use permits to the Housing Authority. Lafayette & Kumagai prevailed at trial and successfully opposed emergency writs to the Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court. The firm then successfully argued the matter on appeal.