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California Crane School, Inc. v. National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators

California Court of Appeals, Fifth District

May 8, 2014

CALIFORNIA CRANE SCHOOL, INC., et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CERTIFICATION OF CRANE OPERATORS et al., Defendants and Respondents.

[CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION [*]]

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Tuolumne County No. CV53859. James A. Boscoe, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Alioto Law Firm, Joseph M. Alioto, Theresa D. Moore, Jamie Miller; Law Offices of Jeffery K. Perkins and Jeffery K. Perkins for Plaintiffs and Appellants California Crane School, Inc. and John Nypl.

Law Office of James M. Dombroski, James M. Dombroski; Law Offices of Jeffery K. Perkins and Jeffery K. Perkins for Plaintiffs and Appellants Timothy Maxwell, Jared Maxwell, Vladimir Nypl and Joshua Larsen.

Parsons Behle & Latimer, John N. Zarian and Brook B. Bond for Defendants and Respondents.

OPINION

KANE, ACTING P.J.

INTRODUCTION

California requires all crane operators to be certified. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 5006.1.) Respondent National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is the only nonunion certifying entity in the state. To be certified, applicants must pass NCCCO’s written and practical exams. NCCCO contracted with respondent International Assessment Institute (IAI) to develop and administer the exams.

Appellant John Nypl owns and operates appellant California Crane School, Inc. (CCS), a training facility for those seeking to pass NCCCO’s operator

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certification exams. Nypl improperly obtained copies of NCCCO’s secure exams and used them to train CCS’s students. NCCCO sued Nypl and CCS. To settle the action, Nypl and CCS agreed to be subject to administrative sanctions that precluded Nypl from acting as a test site coordinator and practical examiner and barred CCS from being listed as a training facility on the NCCCO Web site. According to respondents, CCS and Nypl repeatedly engaged in conduct to circumvent the sanctions. According to appellants, after Nypl refused to join a price-fixing agreement with competing schools, most of whom control NCCCO, NCCCO and IAI blocked Nypl’s legitimate attempts to operate CCS despite the sanctions. Appellants alleged that respondents’ concerted refusals to deal with them constituted an illegal boycott.

Appellants sued respondents for Cartwright Antitrust Act violations (Bus. & Prof. Code, [1] § 16700 et seq. (Cartwright Act)), unfair competition and related business torts. The court sustained demurrers to the Cartwright Act and unfair competition claims and the jury found for respondents on the remaining interference with business relationships claim.

Appellants appeal contending: (1) the court erred in sustaining the demurrer because the complaint alleged an illegal group boycott;[2] (2) the court abused its discretion in refusing appellants sufficient time to put on their case; (3) the court erred in admitting evidence of appellants’ misconduct that was “[r]eleased and [d]ischarged” pursuant to the settlement agreement; and (4) the court erred in instructing the jury in six regards.

We will set forth the trial evidence and address the trial issues first. We will then address the order sustaining the demurrers. We will affirm as to the trial issues; we will reverse the ruling on the demurrer to the antitrust causes of action.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY [*] ...


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