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  Wednesday, December 12, 2018  
The following caselaw summaries are provided as a courtesy to Los Angeles County Bar Association members by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise www.metnews.com. Summaries from the past 90 days are archived and searchable on the LACBA Web site at www.lacba.org/news-and-publications/daily-ebriefs.
Administrative Law
A private university student did not forfeit his argument that he was denied a fair disciplinary hearing by failing to raise the issue before the trial court. Where a university's disciplinary determination turns on witness credibility, the adjudicator must have an opportunity to assess personally the credibility of critical witnesses. Although a university would need an alleged rape victim's written authorization to obtain her medical records, this does not excuse the university from requesting such a release as part of the disciplinary hearing for the alleged rapist.

Doe v. University of Southern California - filed Dec. 11, 2018, Second District, Div. Seven
Cite as 2018 S.O.S. 5881
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Civil Procedure
A trial court did not abuse its discretion by granting an insurance carrier's motions to set aside the default judgments entered against it where the carrier established it had a meritorious defense, and the carrier had a satisfactory excuse for failing to present its defense. The carrier was not required to expressly state it had a meritorious defense in order to establish one existed. A carrier presented a satisfactory excuse for not presenting a defense where it was not a named party and was not served with the complaints or other relevant pleadings, and the carrier did not believe the named defendant was its insured.

Mechling v. Asbestos Defendants (Fireman's Fund Insurance Co.) - filed Dec. 11, 2018, First District, Div. Five
Cite as 2018 S.O.S. 5892
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Consumer Protection
It is inappropriate and an abuse of a trial court's discretion to tie an attorney fee award to the amount of the prevailing buyer/plaintiff's damages or recovery in a Song-Beverly Act action, or pursuant to another consumer protection statute with a mandatory fee-shifting provision. When a trial court applies a substantial negative multiplier to a presumptively accurate lodestar attorney fee amount, the court must clearly explain its case-specific reasons for the percentage reduction. The phrase "costs and expenses," as used in Civil Code Sec. 1794(d), includes items that are not identified as costs in Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 1033.5. Trial transcripts are an awardable "cost" under Sec. 1794(d).

Warren v. Kia Motors America, Inc. - filed Dec. 12, 2018, Fourth District, Div. Two
Cite as 2018 S.O.S. 5895
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Environmental Law
A decree that allows the owners of appropriative rights to water in a creek to use their rights "at all times" whenever water is flowing while also limiting the owners' ability to divert water during the irrigation season does not limit the owners' actions outside of the irrigation season. A decree that expressly authorizes each water rights owner to use its share of the water allotted to it "in any manner, at any place, or for any purpose" allows an owner to use the water elsewhere if it can do so without injuring the rights of others to the water.

Orange Cove Irrigation District v. Los Molinos Mutual Water Company - filed Dec. 12, 2018, Third District
Cite as 2018 S.O.S. 5903
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