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“The Most Oppressive Motion Ever Presented To A Superior Court”

Published by on October 12, 2009

Not exactly the way you want your employment lawyer’s summary judgment motion described by the court of appeals. Followers of this blog are aware of our occasional commentary on “law firm economics,” namely, how large, institutional law firms manage to churn out huge profits per partner every year despite the public relations spin that they […]

Not exactly the way you want your employment lawyer’s summary judgment motion described by the court of appeals.

Followers of this blog are aware of our occasional commentary on “law firm economics,” namely, how large, institutional law firms manage to churn out huge profits per partner every year despite the public relations spin that they are really concerned about how much their clients are spending on legal fees.  Today we read about a California case involving a national employment law firm that is perhaps the clearest example of how large law firms turn routine employment cases into Armageddon-like clashes between civilizations.  The case is Nazir v. United Airlines, Inc., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Oct. 9, 2009).  The California Court of Appeals characterized it as “a case involving what may well be the most oppressive motion ever presented to a superior court.” 

More after the break.

The court of appeals described the employer’s initial filing as follows: 

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment/summary adjudication, seeking adjudication of 44 issues, most of which were not proper subjects of adjudication.  Defendants’ separate statement was 196 pages long, setting forth hundreds of facts, many of them not material—as defendants’ own papers conceded.  And the moving papers concluded with a request for judicial notice of 174 pages.  All told, defendants’ moving papers were 1056 pages.

After the plaintiff filed a response in opposition, the defendant dropped yet another bomb on the superior court:

Defendants’ reply included, and properly, their response to plaintiff’s additional disputed facts.  Defendants’ reply also included, not so properly, a 297-page “Reply Separate Statement” and 153 pages of “Exhibits and Evidence in Support of Defendants’ Reply.”  And the reply culminated with 324 pages of evidentiary objections, consisting of 764 specific objections, 325 of which were directed to portions of plaintiff’s declaration, many of which objections were frivolous.  In all, defendants filed 1150 pages of reply.

These efforts somehow resulted in the superior court granting the employer’s motion for summary judgment.  On appeal, however, the court of appeals reversed the ruling as to eight causes of action (including discrimination, harassment, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress) and sent the case back to the superior court for a jury trial.  The plaintiff was also awarded the costs of appeal.

For those interested, the opinion reports the participants as follows:

 

Trial Court: Superior Court of San Mateo County 
   
Attorney for Plaintiff and Appellant: Law Offices of Phil Horowitz, Phil Horowitz and Moira McQuaid 
Attorneys for Defendants and Respondents: Littler Mendelson, Philip L. Ross, Nancy E. Pritikin, and Kurt R. Bockes 

The underlying facts of the case are interesting as well. 

(Hat tip to The UCL Practitioner.)

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