McKay, de Lorimier & Acain is actively involved in important areas of California jurisprudence. Important decisions handled by McKay, de Lorimier & Acain at both the trial and appellate levels include:

Northland Insurance Company v. Briones (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 796

MDA brought a declaratory relief action on behalf of a homeowners' insurance carrier seeking a determination that it had no duty to defend and indemnify an insured in the underlying tort action alleging that he stalked, assaulted, and raped a 15-year-old student. The Court of Appeal found in favor of the homeowners’ carrier and held that: (1) a refusal to stay the declaratory relief action pending the determination of the underlying action did not prejudice the insured, inasmuch as there was no possibility of coverage, and (2) that there was no potential coverage under the homeowners’ policy for acts involving sexual misconduct and thus no duty to defend or indemnify.

Handling Attorney: Paul A. de Lorimier

Jacqueline R. v. Household of Faith Family Church (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 198

In defending a tort action against a church and its pastor, in which the pastor denied that any sexual conduct occurred, MDA argued that even if the conduct had occurred as alleged, a pastor is not liable as a matter of law for engaging in consensual sexual conduct in the context of pastoral counseling. The Court of Appeal agreed. Although such a duty may exist with respect to licensed marriage counselors, the pastor was not a licensed marriage counselor, and pastoral counselors are expressly exempted from state licensing requirements. This exemption does not violate the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The pastor provided counseling to the plaintiffs based upon his status as a clergyman as part of his church ministry. There was no evidence he received payment for his counseling services. Further, the evidence led to a conclusion that the sexual conduct as alleged was consensual.

Handling Attorney: Michael A. Byrne

Guardian Angel Polish National Catholic Church v. Grotnik (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 919

In this action, a local church parish that severed its ties with a national church brought a quiet title action against the national church and its bishop to resolve the dispute over the right to property that had belonged to the parish. MDA defended the action and filed a cross-complaint on behalf of the bishop. The trial court found that the property belonged to the local parish. MDA filed an appeal upon the grounds that the board of directors of the parish failed to obtain the bishop’s approval of the board's election contrary to the constitution of the church, making all acts of the purported board unauthorized and a nullity. In addition, MDA argued that the property of the parish reverted to the national church after the parish's unapproved board voted to sever all ties with national church based upon a reversionary clause in the national church’s constitution. The Court of Appeal found in favor of the bishop and overturned the trial court, ordering that the church property be transferred to the national church.

Handling Attorney: Paul A. de Lorimier

Wiener v. Southcoast Childcare Centers, Inc. (2004) 32 Cal.4th 1138

The parents of two children brought a negligence and premises liability action against a day care center and lessor of property after the children were killed when a man deliberately drove his car through a chain link fence and struck the children. MDA argued that the defendants owed no duty to the parents as a matter of law since the driver's criminal act was unforeseeable. The California Supreme Court agreed, holding that a property owner owes no duty as a matter of law for unforeseeable criminal acts.

Handling Attorneys: John P. McKay, Michael P. Acain and Michael A. Byrne