Wasted Plaintiff, Not Wasted Writ Effort

In today’s Klean W. Hollywood, LLC, v. Superior Court (B283816) Division Four in Los Angeles explained interesting and novel issues in a case in which the plaintiff, Jackson, — winner of the chutzpah of the week award — sued a residential drug treatment facility where he had sought treatment for drug addiction, claiming negligence due to Klean’s failure to prevent him from smuggling heroin into his room in the middle of the night, aided by a co-conspirator, the end result being Jackson’s unconsciousness and eventual transportation to the hospital the next morning.  Klean W. Hollywood [an oxymoron if it had been spelled correctly] filed  a summary judgment motion, which was denied, following that with  a  petition for writ of mandate, which was granted.

Klean argued the Drug Dealer Liability Act (“DDLA”) precluded the action, which also was barred by common law.  The Court of Appeal rejected the first claim with a comprehensive discussion of the DDLA, but agreed with the second, explaining the action was barred under the “‘wrongful conduct rule,’ which embraces the policy that ‘courts should not lend their aid to a plaintiff who founded his cause of action on his own illegal conduct.'”  The Opinion includes a comprehensive discussion of case law concerning third party voluntary intoxication liability, which would be helpful in multiple contexts.

As far as appellate procedure goes, Klean demonstrates a writ petition after a summary judgment denial is not necessarily a wasted effort.  The various Districts of the California Court of Appeal may diverge on their internal policies concerning whether proceeding to trial on  a facially meritless case is “irreparable harm” sufficient to justify writ relief.  Some may prefer to “deal with it later on appeal,” but you never know unless you try.  If you have an interesting legal issue, and it appears the “wrong” party was successful at trial, it may be worthwhile to petition.   Read the opinion: