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Incorporation attorney

Defendant sought review from a decision of the San Francisco County Superior Court (California), which awarded judgment in favor of plaintiff bank on her cross-complaint alleging business practices in violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.

Following the sale of her repossessed automobile, defendant appealed from a decision of the trial court, which awarded judgment in favor of plaintiff bank on her cross-complaint alleging business practices in violation of Ca. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. On appeal, the court stated that where a sale was made after competitive bidding to the highest bidder, and where the public was invited and did bid, it was a public sale for purposes of Cal. Com. Code § 9504(3). The incorporation attorney  concluded that as a matter of law the sale of defendant's automobile by sealed bid auction as a public sale within the meaning of § 9504(3), and the notice of sale was deficient since it did not inform her of the date, time, and place of the sale. Thus, the court held that plaintiff was barred from recovering any deficiency against defendant. Further, the court stated that prosecuting an action for a deficiency judgment after a public sale of collateral, without the individual notice being given as required, was an unlawful business practice. The court concluded that defendant had established her claim under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200.

The court reversed the judgment in favor of plaintiff bank on defendant's cross-complaint and remanded the matter to the trial court with directions to enter judgment in favor of defendant on her claim alleging an unlawful business act or practice. Plaintiff's prosecuting of an action for a deficiency judgment following public sale of collateral without individual notice of the sale being given to defendant was an unlawful business practice.

Plaintiff city brought suit against defendants, a computer-sales company and a city inspector, alleging the company paid the inspector kickbacks. Defendant contractor was later added to the suit. The contractor moved to disqualify the city attorney and the city attorney's office. The Superior Court of San Francisco County, California, granted the motion. The city appealed.

While the city attorney was still in private practice, he represented the contractor. In its response, the city attorney's office maintained that it had instituted an ethical screen upon discovering the contractor's alleged involvement in the kickback scheme. The matter was passed from the city attorney to his chief deputy. The trial court, however, determined that the city attorney had obtained confidential information from the contractor. The trial court also found that the subject of the prior representation was substantially related to the current lawsuit. The contractor argued that the presumption of vicarious disqualification applicable to private-private migration should extend to private-public migration. The appellate court noted that as the disqualified attorney was the head of a public law office, special concerns were raised that an ethical screen could not adequately address. The appellate court agreed with the city attorney's office that reasons existed to support a narrower disqualification rule in public sector cases. Those reasons were insufficient when the city attorney himself was the disqualified attorney. The vicarious disqualification was proper.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court's judgment.

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