February 1, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Calls for Response to Petition for Certiorari Filed by Ehlert Hicks 

Ehlert Hicks filed a petition for certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, along with co-counsel Jocelyn Sperling, Joshua Engel, Lara Bazelon, and Dan Roth. The case presents a significant question concerning the procedural due-process rights of state university students and has been listed as a “featured petition” by SCOTUSblog. Petitioner Doe was a psychology graduate student at Sonoma State University who was suspended for more than a year after one of her fellow graduate students accused her of lewd behavior during a classroom exercise. Doe missed the entire second year of her master’s program as a result of her suspension, during which she never received a hearing or meaningful opportunity to confront the evidence and witnesses against her. She was ultimately exonerated of any wrongdoing. The cert petition asks the Court to resolve a Circuit split concerning what university students must allege to plead that university disciplinary proceedings have violated their Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights. On January 18, 2022, the Supreme Court called for a response from Respondents, due on February 18.

December 9, 2021

Ehlert Hicks Persuades California Court of Appeal to Dismiss Appeal Brought Against Noted Author Peter Beagle 

Ehlert Hicks represented noted fantasy novelist, Peter Beagle (author of The Last Unicorn, among other works), in an appeal brought by Beagle’s former business manager. Beagle had won a fraud judgment in the trial court that his former business manager then appealed. Ehlert Hicks succeeded in persuading the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal as moot.

November 23, 2021

Ehlert Hicks Wins Qualified-Immunity Case in the Ohio Supreme Court 

Ehlert Hicks and co-counsel Rachel Bloomekatz and Emmett Robinson won an important victory in the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of the estate of a two-year-old girl who was brutalized by her parents and ultimately murdered by her father. In Maternal Grandmother v. Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, the toddler’s grandmother brought suit against county social workers, alleging they had been at least reckless in failing to detect the abuse the girl was suffering. The Supreme Court agreed with our arguments that when alleging government employees have lost their immunity to suit, plaintiffs need comply with only notice pleading requirements, not any heightened pleading standard. The ruling will help other plaintiffs who seek to hold government employees accountable for wrongdoing.

May 8, 2021

Ehlert Hicks Wins Appeal Preventing Employer from Enforcing Alleged Arbitration Agreement 

Ehlert Hicks and trial lawyers Jaret & Jaret recently succeeded in defending a trial court ruling denying an employer’s petition for arbitration. The plaintiff employee filed a discrimination and defamation complaint against her employer, a skilled nursing facility in Marin County. The employer contended that the plaintiff had agreed to arbitrate her claims when she completed the new-hire onboarding process. The trial court found otherwise. It credited the substantial evidence presented by the plaintiff showing that the employer’s human resources manager had electronically onboarded new employees, including plaintiff, and had signed the employer’s arbitration agreement on their behalf and without their knowledge or consent. The Court of Appeal affirmed, agreeing with the trial court that the employer had failed to authenticate the plaintiff’s electronic signature as her own and that therefore no valid arbitration agreement existed. The case will now be litigated in the trial court.

May 7, 2021

Ehlert Hicks Obtains Rare Writ Petition Win 

Most writ petitions in the California Courts of Appeal are summarily denied but Ehlert Hicks, along with trial counsel Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams, recently obtained a win on behalf of a sexual-assault victim. The plaintiff–a medical doctor and post-graduate fellow at a teaching hospital jointly operated by the University of Southern California and Los Angeles County–sought to depose the former dean of USC’s Keck School of Medicine (“KSOM”) concerning what KSOM and USC did, or failed to do, in response to the on-the-job sexual assault and ensuing retaliation the plaintiff suffered. The trial court entirely precluded the deposition from going forward, but after extensive briefing, the Court of Appeal issued an alternative writ instructing the trial court to vacate its order. The trial court promptly did so.