On 04/25/2018 a Contract - Professional Negligence case was filed by JANAE SCALES against RICHARD WOOLEY in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
JOHN P. DOYLE
SCALES JANAE AKA STEPHANIE DESSELLE
DOES 1 THROUGH 100
DUFORD LAW LLP
DUFORD CRAIG WILLIAM
FEENBERG MICHAEL W. ESQ.
FEENBERG MICHAEL WARREN
10/10/2019: Separate Statement - SEPARATE STATEMENT PLAINTIFF JANAE SCALES'S SEPARATE STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS IN SUPPORT OF ITS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEFING IN SUPPORT OF MOTION
9/25/2019: Brief - BRIEF DEFENDANT RICHARD WOOLEY'S SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEFING IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
9/10/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; STATUS CONFERENCE (AL...)
9/5/2019: Separate Statement
9/5/2019: Declaration - DECLARATION OF JOSHUA WILLIAMS ISO REPLY
8/28/2019: Opposition - OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
8/29/2019: Opposition - OPPOSITION AMENDED OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
8/7/2019: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order
8/14/2019: Motion for Leave to Amend - MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT
8/22/2019: Declaration - DECLARATION OF CRAIG W. DUFORD
8/22/2019: Separate Statement
8/22/2019: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)
9/25/2018: RULING: THE DEMURRER IS OVERRULED. THE MOTION TO STRIKE IS GRANTED.
9/19/2018: NOTICE OF PLAINTIFF'S. FAILURE TO FILE AND SERVE OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
7/11/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT -
7/26/2018: Minute Order -
7/30/2018: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; ETC
4/25/2018: PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR LEGAL MALPRACTICE, BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Hearing09/28/2020 at 09:00 AM in Department 58 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury TrialRead MoreRead Less
Hearing09/22/2020 at 09:00 AM in Department 58 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status ConferenceRead MoreRead Less
Hearing02/10/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 58 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Status ConferenceRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 58; Hearing on Motion for Leave to Amend (Motion for Leave of Court to File Amended Complaint) - HeldRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 58; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment - HeldRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 58; Status Conference ((All-Purpose)) - HeldRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 58; Trial Setting Conference - HeldRead MoreRead Less
DocketBrief (DEFENDANT RICHARD WOOLEY'S FURTHER SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEFING IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE ISSUE OF ACTUAL INJURY FOR PURPOSES OF THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS); Filed by Richard Wooley (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Plaintiff Janae Scales' Motion for Leave to Amend ...)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketStipulation and Order to use Certified Shorthand ReporterRead MoreRead Less
DocketCASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENTRead MoreRead Less
DocketCIVIL DEPOSITRead MoreRead Less
DocketProof of ServiceRead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARINGRead MoreRead Less
DocketOSC-Failure to File Proof of Serv; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCERead MoreRead Less
DocketPLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR LEGAL MALPRACTICE, BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIALRead MoreRead Less
DocketSUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by Janae Scales (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC703881 Hearing Date: November 08, 2019 Dept: 58
Judge John P. Doyle
Hearing Date: November 8, 2019
Case Name: Scales v. Wooley, et al.
Case No.: BC703881
Motion: (1) Motion for Summary Judgment
(2) Motion for Leave to Amend
Moving Party: (1) Defendant Richard Wooley
(2) Plaintiff Janae Scales
Responding Party: (1) Plaintiff Janae Scales
(2) Defendant Richard Wooley
Tentative Ruling: The Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.
The Motion for Leave to Amend is denied.
This is a legal malpractice action arising from Defendant Richard Wooley’s (“Defendant”) representation of Plaintiff Janae Scales aka Stephanie Desselle (“Plaintiff”) before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board after Plaintiff could no longer work because of injuries to her wrists and left elbow. (Compl. ¶ 7.)
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to competently represent her in two ways. First,
Defendant voluntarily provided records to the underlying worker’s compensation insurance company Athens Administrators (“Athens”) revealing that Plaintiff was working. (Id. ¶ 8.) Second, Plaintiff testified truthfully at her deposition that she was working while receiving temporary total disability benefits (“TTD”). (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff was later convicted of insurance fraud. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant did not protect her from offering incriminating testimony and did not make any attempts to advise her of potential criminal liability. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant did not advise her that she should reimburse her TTD to avoid any potential criminal charges. (Id. ¶ 11.)
On April 25, 2018, Plaintiff filed the operative complaint asserting two causes of action for (1) legal malpractice and (2) breach of fiduciary duty.
Motion for Summary Judgment
Defendant seeks summary judgment of all of Plaintiff’s claims. Specifically, Defendant argues that the Court should grant summary judgment because Plaintiff’s claims are barred by: (1) Plaintiff’s inability to prove causation; (2) the doctrine of unclean hands; (3) the actual innocence rule; (4) statute of limitations; or (5) Plaintiff’s inability to prove damages.
On September 11, 2019, the Court tentatively denied the Motion for Summary Judgment, but ultimately continued the Motion for supplemental briefing.
The parties have provided further briefing on the issues of (1) the statute of limitations, (2) causation, and (3) actual innocence.
Statute of Limitations
Defendant’s argument as to the statute of limitations has no merit because there was not an actual injury triggering the limitations period until Plaintiff was arrested.
Defendant argues that Plaintiff suffered an actual injury at the time of her March 2015 deposition because her testimony significantly impaired her workers’ compensation matter. Alternatively, Defendant argues Plaintiff suffered actual injury in June 2015 when she terminated Defendant’s representation.
This would have merit if the Complaint sought damages stemming from Plaintiff’s workers’ compensation action, but it does not. Rather, the Complaint seeks damages relating to Plaintiff’s subsequent arrest and criminal prosecution. Damages relating to Plaintiff’s workers’ compensation matter constitute a separate cause of action which would not trigger the limitations period for the claims pled in the Complaint.
In sum, Defendant’s statute of limitations argument fails.
Defendant essentially argues that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate causation to the extent it was a certainty Plaintiff would be criminally prosecuted whether or not Defendant failed to assert the Fifth Amendment privilege at her deposition.
Defendant has failed to carry his burden in relation to Plaintiff’s theory that Defendant failed to advise Plaintiff to make restitution so as to preclude criminal prosecution altogether. Defendant argues that Athens had already referred Plaintiff to the District Attorney’s Office prior to Plaintiff’s retention of Defendant (Compendium of Exhibits, Exhibit 4); however, this is not what the cited evidence apparently shows. Rather, the cited evidence indicates that in December 2014 Athens merely intended to refer Plaintiff to the District Attorney’s Office, but that it had not actually done so. The remainder of Defendant’s evidence simply indicates that Athens had knowledge of fraudulent conduct. Thus, Defendant has failed to show that a criminal proceeding was factually inevitable whether or not he provided adequate advice as to restitution. Although not necessary for the disposition of the Motion, the Court takes judicial notice of Athens’ fraudulent claim referral form, which indicates that it had been completed after Plaintiff’s retention of Defendant and her testimony at the March 2015 deposition.
(c) Actual Innocence
Defendant alternatively argues that the actual innocence rule bars Plaintiff’s claims. Specifically, Defendant argues that Plaintiff fails to prove that she was actually innocent of her crime.
“[I]n a criminal malpractice action actual innocence is a necessary element of the plaintiff's cause of action.” (Wiley v. Cty. of San Diego (1998) 19 Cal.4th 532, 545 (“Wiley”).)
The instant suit--in which civil malpractice is alleged to have caused a criminal conviction--presents a novel set of facts for purposes of determining whether the actual innocence rule applies. It is apparent that Wiley indicates policy reasons both supporting and detracting from the application of the rule to the instant matter.
However, the Court will not apply the rule to bar Plaintiff’s claim because, at the very least, the actual innocence rule is applied in the circumstance that attorney negligence contributes to a criminal conviction, but, again, one theory posited by Plaintiff is that attorney negligence failed to preclude a criminal proceeding altogether. The actual innocence rule has apparently never been applied to such circumstances.
In any case, to the extent the rule might be applicable to the foregoing theory or even the claim that Defendant’s civil negligence directly contributed to a conviction, given the factual novelty of this matter, the Court respectfully declines to make a pronouncement in this regard.
In sum, the Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.
Motion for Leave to Amend
On September 11, 2019, the Court tentatively denied Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File a First Amended Complaint adding a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress as well as a request for punitive damages. However, the Court ultimately continued the Motion without supplemental briefing.
For the reasons previously stated, the Motion for Leave to Amend is denied.