This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/19/2019 at 00:23:39 (UTC).

THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU VS COLETTE PELISSIER

Case Summary

On 11/29/2017 THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against COLETTE PELISSIER. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is MITCHELL L. BECKLOFF. The case status is Disposed - Judgment Entered.

Case Details Parties Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****8428

  • Filing Date:

    11/29/2017

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Judgment Entered

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

MITCHELL L. BECKLOFF

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Respondent

THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU

Defendant and Appellant

PELISSIER COLETTE

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

BARDO EVAN L.

EVAN L. BARDO

BARDO EVAN LEE

Appellant Attorney

ROSEN DAVID ERIC

Defendant Attorney

GARFINKEL GREGG S.

Court Documents

Court documents are not available for this case.

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/29/2019
  • at 10:30 AM in Department M; Hearing on Application for Order for Appearance and Examination - Held - Continued

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/29/2019
  • Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore; Filed by THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/29/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Application for Order for Appearance and Examination)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/24/2019
  • Separate Statement; Filed by COLETTE PELISSIER (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/24/2019
  • Motion to Quash; Filed by COLETTE PELISSIER (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/24/2019
  • Motion to Quash; Filed by COLETTE PELISSIER (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/24/2019
  • Separate Statement; Filed by COLETTE PELISSIER (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/24/2019
  • Motion to Quash; Filed by COLETTE PELISSIER (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/24/2019
  • Separate Statement; Filed by COLETTE PELISSIER (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/24/2019
  • Motion to Quash; Filed by COLETTE PELISSIER (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
64 More Docket Entries
  • 02/28/2018
  • Default Entered; Filed by THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/28/2018
  • Request for Entry of Default / Judgment; Filed by THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/28/2018
  • Default Entered (AS TO: COLETTE PELISSIER-ENTERED ); Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/19/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/19/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/29/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/29/2017
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/29/2017
  • Complaint Filed

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/29/2017
  • Summons; Filed by Plaintiff

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/29/2017
  • Summons Filed; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: SC128428    Hearing Date: October 29, 2020    Dept: M

Case Name: The Semler Companies/Malibu v. Colette Pelissier

Case No. SC128428

Motion: Pelissier’s Motion to Disqualify Counsel

Hearing Date: 10/29/2020

Background

Defendant Colette Pelissier brings a motion to disqualify counsel pursuant to California Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 1.9. Pelissier seeks to disqualify Laura Bell arguing that Ms. Bell was her attorney. Pelissier also argues that Ms. Bell has shared confidential information to Semler’s in-house counsel, Evan Bardo. Pelissier argues that Semler’s in-house counsel must be vicariously disqualified from acting as counsel in this matter pursuant to Rule 1.9(c).

On July 11, 2019, the Court denied Defendant Colette Pelissier’s ex parte motion specially set a hearing for the motion to disqualify counsel.

Legal Standard

“ ‘A trial court’s authority to disqualify an attorney derives from the power inherent in every court “[t]o control in furtherance of justice, the conduct of its ministerial officers, and of all other persons in any manner connected with a judicial proceeding before it, in every matter pertaining thereto.” ’ ” (Ontiveros v. Constable (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 686, 694 (quoting People ex rel. Dept. of Corporations v. SpeeDee Oil Change Systems, Inc. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1135, 1145 (quoting Code Civ. Proc., § 128(a)(5))).) “ ‘[D]isqualification motions involve a conflict between the clients’ right to counsel of their choice and the need to maintain ethical standards of professional responsibility.’ ” (Id. at 694-95.) “ ‘The paramount concern must be to preserve public trust in the scrupulous administration of justice and the integrity of the bar.’ ” (Id. at 695.) “‘The important right to counsel of one’s choice must yield to ethical considerations that affect the fundamental principles of our judicial process.’” (Id.) In exercising its discretion to disqualify an attorney, the Court is required to make a reasoned judgment which complies with the legal principles and policies applicable to the issue at hand. (Henriksen v. Great Am. Sav. & Loan (1992) 11 Cal.App.4th 109, 113.)

The protection of the attorney-client privilege is not the only ground for a motion to disqualify an attorney. (Kennedy v. Eldridge (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 1197, 1204 to 1205.) The Court has an independent interest in ensuring trials are conducted within ethical standards of the profession and that legal proceedings appear fair to all that observe them. (Id.) The paramount concern must be to preserve public trust in the scrupulous administration of justice and the integrity of the bar. (Id.) Accordingly, when an attorney’s continued representation threatens an opposing litigant with cognizable injury or would undermine the integrity of the judicial process, the trial court may grant a motion for disqualification, regardless of whether a motion is brought by a present or former client of recused counsel. (Id.)

Motions to disqualify counsel present competing policy considerations. (Zador Corp. v. Kwan (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 1285, 1302.) On the one hand, a court must not hesitate to disqualify an attorney when it is satisfactorily established that the attorney wrongfully acquired an unfair advantage that undermines the integrity of the judicial process and will have a continuing effect on the proceedings before the Court. (Id.) On the other hand, it must be kept in mind that disqualification usually imposes a substantial hardship on the disqualified attorney’s innocent client, who must bear the monetary and other costs of finding a replacement. (Id.) This policy consideration is particularly important because it is widely understood that attorneys now commonly use disqualification motions for purely strategic purposes, e.g., to delay the litigation or to intimidate an adversary into accepting settlement on terms that would not otherwise be acceptable. (Id.)

Analysis

“Conflicts of interest commonly arise in one of two factual contexts: (1) in cases of successive representation, where an attorney seeks to represent a client with interests that are potentially adverse to a former client of the attorney; and (2) in cases of simultaneous representation, where an attorney seeks to represent in a single action multiple parties with potentially adverse interests.” (In re Charlisse C. (2008) 45 Cal.4th 145, 159.)

“An attorney-client relationship can be formed though no retainer is signed or no fees are paid. (Miller v. Metzinger (1979) 91 Cal.App.3d 31, 39–40, 154 Cal.Rptr. 22.)” (Gulf Ins. Co. v. Berger, Kahn, Shafton, Moss, Figler, Simon & Gladstone (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 114, 126, as modified (Mar. 17, 2000).)

“‘When a party seeking legal advice consults an attorney at law and secures that advice, the relation of attorney and client is established prima facie.’ The absence of an agreement with respect to the fee to be charged does not prevent the relationship from arising.” Contractual formality is not required. [citation omitted.]

(Ibid.)

Defendant states that she hired Ms. Bell around December 2015 to act as her attorney. (See Pelissier Decl. ¶ 3.) Defendant also states that Ms. Bell advised her and her husband as to the purchase of the Malibu property located at 11824 Ellice Street, Malibu, CA 90265. (Id. ¶ 8.) However, this was in November of 2015. Defendant also provides evidence that Semler recommended Ms. Bell to Plaintiff. (See Ex. 1 to Pelissier Decl.)

Defendant argues that this is a case of successive representations. Defendant argues that under Rule 1.9(b), Ms. Bell must be disqualified. Rule 1.9(b) is inapplicable as it deals with lawyers were part of “a firm* with which the lawyer formerly was associated had previously represented a client” (CA ST RPC Rule 1.9 [asterisk in original].) Defendant may have been referring to Rule 1.9(a), which provides, “A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person* in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person's* interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed written consent.*” (CA ST RPC Rule 1.9.)

Defendant argues that Ms. Bell attended the debtor’s examination as an attorney for Plaintiff. However, Plaintiff presents evidence that Ms. Bell does not represent Plaintiff in this matter. (See Semler Decl. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff also provide evidence that he obtained all of the information on Defendant over the years through his personal relationship with Defendant. (See Semler Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6 – 9.) Plaintiff also states that he knew about Defendant’s various banking accounts because Defendant had paid Plaintiff with checks. (See Ex. 1 to Semler Decl. ¶ 9.) Moreover, Plaintiff’s counsel, Evan Bardo, provides a declaration stating that he does not employ anyone else, including support staff. (See Bardo Decl. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff’s counsel states that Ms. Bell was at the judgment debtor’s examination to simply provide assistance as a personal favor. Mr. Bardo also declares that Ms. Bell has never communicated any information about Defendant. (See Bardo Decl. ¶ 13.) Mr. Semler also declares that he has never obtained any information about Defendant or her assets from Ms. Bell and that all of the information obtained in this case was through his own research and his client. (Semler Decl. ¶ 11.)

While Defendant presents evidence that she may have been in an attorney-client relationship with Ms. Bell, Defendant has not presented evidence that Ms. Bell divulged any information obtained from Defendant or that Ms. Bell is currently representing Plaintiff in this matter. Therefore, the motion to disqualify counsel is DENIED.

related-case-search

Dig Deeper

Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases


Latest cases where THE SEMLER COMPANIES/MALIBU is a litigant

Latest cases represented by Lawyer BARDO EVAN L