Arntz Builders v. Superior Court (County of Contra Costa) 122 Cal. App. 4th 1195 (1st Dist. Sep. 30, 2004)

Provision in construction contract between Arntz and County purportedly waiving the change of venue provisions of Code of Civil Procedure Section 394 (providing that any party may move for a change of venue where a county brings an action within that county against a resident of another county) is void because a party “may not waive the benefits of a statute enacted primarily for a public purpose.” The public purpose underlying Section 394 “is to guard against local prejudices which sometimes exist in favor of litigants within a county as against those from without.”

Northern California Carpenters Regional Council v. Warmington Hercules Associates
124 Cal. App. 4th 296 (1st Dist. Nov. 22, 2004) (review filed 1/3/05)

Defendants, contractors and subcontractors on public works project filed motion to strike the complaint filed by a labor organization and an individual which alleged that defendants failed to comply with prevailing wage requirements. The trial court denied defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, finding that defendants did not meet their burden of showing that the complaint arose from exercise of their protected rights. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that plaintiffs’ action falls within Section 425.17, the public interest exception to the anti-SLAPP statute, because plaintiffs do not seek any relief directly benefiting themselves. The court also found that Section 425.17 applies here even though defendants’ motion to strike was filed, but not heard, before the Section’s effective date.

Superior Gunite v. Mitzel
117 Cal. App. 4th 301 (2d Dist. Mar. 30, 2004)

Subcontractor performing foundation work at public high school construction project assigned its claims against defendant general contractor to plaintiff sub-subcontractor. Sub-subcontractor won a judgment against general contractor for breach of contract and negligence. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s award of damages based on breach of contract because sub-subcontractor failed, as assignee of subcontractor in privity, to assert any claims under subcontractor’s agreement with general contractor. In addition, sub-subcontractor could not recover on a pass-through theory where trial court dismissed such a claim as not proven, the case was not tried on a pass-through theory basis, and on appeal sub-subcontractor did not challenge the trial court’s dismissal of that theory.

Sylmar Air Conditioning v. Pueblo Contracting Services, Inc.
122 Cal. App. 4th 1049 (2d Dist. Sep. 29, 2004)

Trial court granted Pueblo’s SLAPP motion to strike a cause of action in Sylmar’s original cross-complaint despite Sylmar’s filing of amended cross-complaint three days before hearing on the SLAPP motion. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that Sylmar’s amendment of its pleading as a matter of right did not invalidate the rule expressed in Simmons v. Allstate Insurance Co., 92 Cal. App. 4th 1068 (2001), that there is no express or implied right in the anti-SLAPP statute to amend a pleading to avoid a SLAPP motion. Thus, Pueblo was entitled to its attorneys’ fees and costs as the prevailing defendant on its meritorious SLAPP motion.

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