Firm wins long delayed appeal on brokers' commissions


On December 1, 2021, the California Supreme Court sealed the firm's successful defense of a summary judgment rejecting a real estate broker's several theories for avoiding the statute of frauds barring his multi-million dollar commission claim for the sale of a large shopping mall in Cupertino. The denial of his petition for review also marked the conclusion of an extensively delayed appeal.  It was fully briefed in the Sixth District in February 2020, transferred along with two dozen other cases to the Fourth District in April 2021, and finally decided there in August 2021 by the slip opinion attached. (Nguyen v. Vallco Shopping Mall)


07182021-08-13 opinion.pdf

Great progress on Elliot's recommendations for appellate efficiency


This past February, the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers asked Elliot, a past president, to chair a new task force exploring ways to improve the efficiency of the State's appellate process without sacrificing quality. On October 21, after consultations with other bar groups, the Academy submitted the attached recommendations to the Judicial Council addressing all phases of appeals. While many such recommendations never even reach the Council's agenda, or are put on hold for a long time, today Elliot received the attached letter from all six of California's administrative presiding justices who form an advisory committee at the Council. They have referred some of our recommendations to the general Appellate Advisory Committee at the Council, and have decided to review others themselves. This prompt and positive response bodes well for substantial improvements in the appellate process.


9698recommendations to judicial council on appellate efficiency.pdf
9698letter from apjs 11-15-21.pdf

Elliot proposes an important rule change


What do you do if your client's judgment or order gets amended? Appeal the original version or the amended version? California law has been dangerously uncertain, with wrong guesses threatening the right to appeal either version. The principal line of cases, for example, says if there's a "substantial modification" by amendment the original version is no longer appealable at all, so you must appeal the amended version within the prescribed time limits. But what's a "substantial" modification? The cases provide no reliable test on this fateful issue. In June 2020, accordingly, Elliot submitted the attached rule proposal to the California Judicial Council. To eliminate doubt, the new rule would always require timely appeals from the original version of an appealable judgment or order affecting a party, and amendments of any kind -- whether "substantial" or not -- would be reviewable on the same appeal as long as they're entered by a date certain.


1369proposed rule on amended judgments or orders.pdf

Firm named to exclusive listing


Once again, Bien & Summers has been recognized as a top appellate firm in the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers of Northern California. Notably, only 20 firms in the entire "San Francisco" region -- from San Rafael down to Redwood City -- achieved this recognition for appellate practice.