Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holmes v. Lerner case brief

Holmes v. Lerner case brief summary
88 Cal. Rptr. 2D 130 (1999)

Defendants appealed from the San Francisco County Superior Court (California) judgment finding them liable for damages on plaintiff's breach of partnership claim; plaintiff appealed from the judgment imposing joint and several liability for the award of compensatory damages and the order granting nonsuit on various claims against defendant.

Plaintiff, party to a partnership agreement with defendants, sued for breach of contract and contract interference. The trial jury found defendants liable for compensatory and punitive damages. Defendants appealed.


  • The court affirmed the judgment for breach of partnership agreement. 
  • An agreement to divide profits is not a prerequisite to prove the existence of a partnership
  • The oral partnership agreement was sufficiently definite for enforcement
  • The court reversed the judgment of a co-defendant for contract interference because the finding that he interfered with the contract was precluded by the jury's finding that defendant never intended to perform. 
  • The court reversed an order granting a nonsuit on claims against the co-defendant for aiding, abetting and conspiracy related to fraud, and fiduciary duty breach.
  • Damages awarded were joint and several, because, although based on different theories and breach of obligations, only a single item of damages was sought and proven.

The judgment against defendant for contract interference was reversed; order granting a nonsuit to co-defendant on plaintiff's aiding and abetting and civil conspiracy causes of action relating to fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud reversed. Affirmed in all other respects.

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