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State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Fue Lee et al

January 31, 2011

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF, CROSS-DEFENDANT AND RESPONDENT,
v.
FUE LEE ET AL., DEFENDANTS, CROSS-COMPLAINANTS AND APPELLANTS.



(Super. Ct. No. 34-2009-00034130-CU-BT-GDS)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nicholson , J.

State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. v. Lee

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

After State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company filed an unfair business practices action against Fue Lee and others, Lee and the others filed a cross-complaint against State Farm and its law firm, alleging abuse of process and unfair business practices based on questions asked by State Farm's attorney during depositions in a prior action for recovery of medical expenses. The deposition questions revealed the cross-complainants' possible illegal ownership of chiropractic practices by a partnership between a chiropractor and a layperson. State Farm brought an anti-SLAPP motion against the cross-complaint, and Lee sought disqualification of State Farm's law firm and a preliminary injunction against use of the information revealed in the depositions. The trial court granted State Farm's anti-SLAPP motion and denied Lee's motion to disqualify and for injunctive relief.

On appeal, Lee contends the trial court erred in granting the anti-SLAPP motion. The contention is without merit because Lee failed to establish a probability of prevailing on the merits.

Lee also contends the trial court erred in denying injunctive relief. He withdrew this contention at oral argument. In any event, Lee established no legal grounds for injunctive relief.

We therefore affirm.

BACKGROUND

Underlying Action in which Depositions were Taken

Two individuals filed uninsured motorist claims with State Farm for injuries resulting from an alleged hit-and-run automobile accident. The individuals had received chiropractic care from Community Family Chiropractic and Good Chiropractic. In preparation for possible arbitration of the uninsured motorist claims, State Farm took the depositions of the treating chiropractors, as well as the cross-complainants Fue Lee, D.C., Chou Thao, and Richard Lysuwan. Through these depositions, State Farm discovered that Community Family Chiropractic was owned by a partnership of Lee and Thao and that Good Chiropractic was owned by a partnership of Lee and Lysuwan. No objections were made to the deposition questioning concerning the ownership of the chiropractic practices.

State Farm's Unfair Business Practices Action Against Lee

State Farm filed a complaint against Lee, Thao, Lysuwan, Community Family Chiropractic, and Good Chiropractic alleging unfair business practices pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17200. The crux of the complaint was that ownership of each chiropractic practice by a licensed chiropractor in partnership with a non-licensed person was unlawful. State Farm ...


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