California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division
APPEAL from judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC426815 Charles F. Palmer, Judge.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Roger L. Stanard for Plaintiff and Appellant.
Gaims Weil West, Alan Jay Weil and Steven S. Davis for Defendants and Respondents.
KITCHING, Acting P. J.
In this opinion we again acknowledge our Supreme Court’s near categorical prohibition against judicially crafted exceptions to the mediation confidentiality statutes and hold a malpractice plaintiff cannot circumvent mediation confidentiality by advancing inferences about his former attorney’s supposed acts or omissions during an underlying mediation.
Plaintiff John Amis (Amis) appeals from a summary judgment in favor of his former attorneys Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Naoki Kawada and John M.
Gatti (collectively, GT). Amis’s operative complaint alleges GT committed attorney malpractice by “caus[ing]” him to execute a settlement agreement that converted his company’s corporate obligations into Amis’s personal obligations without advising Amis that he had little to no risk of personal liability in the underlying litigation. GT moved for summary judgment citing Amis’s undisputed admission that all advice he received from GT regarding the settlement agreement was given during a mediation. Based on this undisputed fact, GT argued Amis could not obtain evidence to support his claims, and GT could not produce evidence to defend itself, because the disclosure of such evidence was barred by the mediation confidentiality statutes. The trial court agreed on both counts and entered summary judgment for GT. We affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
1. The Path Litigation
Amis was a minority shareholder and officer of Pacific Marketing Works, Inc. (Pacific), a company that exported woman’s clothing apparel to Japan. In 2006, Pacific sued Path Productions, LLC, and its principals (collectively, Path) alleging Path breached a 2002 contract to design apparel for Pacific. Path responded with a cross-complaint against Pacific, Amis and other Pacific shareholders, alleging, inter alia, breach of contract, fraud and alter ego liability (the Path Litigation).
In June 2007, while the Path Litigation was pending, Pacific entered into a proposal for acquisition with a Japanese entity, Sojitz Corporation, which had expressed interest in purchasing Pacific’s assets. GT represented Sojitz in the proposed transaction. One of the proposal’s terms required "favorable settlement or resolution” of the Path Litigation.
Until September 2007, Amis and his co-cross defendants were represented in the Path Litigation by two law firms-Miller Barondess and Radcliff & Saiki. When those firms withdrew, Amis and company engaged GT to represent them in the Path Litigation, and Sojitz agreed to pay GT’s fees for
the representation. GT obtained a written conflict waiver from all interested parties, which included a declaration that its “representation of [Pacific] and its [shareholders] in the [Path Litigation] will not be compromised or adversely affected by our ...