Cochran v. Cochran
California Court of Appeal
89 Cal. App. 4th 283, 106 Cal. Rptr. 2d 899 (2001)
Johnnie Cochran (defendant) began a relationship with Patricia Cochran (plaintiff) in 1966, at which time Johnnie was married. Johnnie and Patricia had a son together, held themselves out to the world as man and wife, and owned a residence as joint tenants. Johnnie usually stayed at this residence two to four nights per week. Johnnie divorced his first wife in 1978. In 1983 Patricia learned that Johnnie was being unfaithful to her. The two entered a property-settlement agreement under which Johnnie quitclaimed his interest in the jointly owned residence to Patricia and agreed to make monthly child-support payments, among other obligations. Shortly after they signed the agreement, the parties decided to return to the previous state of their relationship, though Johnnie also made an informal promise to continue supporting Patricia financially and otherwise. In 1985 Johnnie married his second wife, but he continued providing Patricia with financial assistance. In 1995 Patricia brought an action in which she alleged that Johnnie breached his informal promise of support. The California Court of Appeal determined that the statute of limitations for breach of such an agreement did not begin running until the defendant failed to perform as required. On remand, Johnnie cross-complained that Patricia had breached the 1983 settlement agreement’s confidentiality provisions. Patricia then cross-complained for recission of that agreement on grounds of fraudulent inducement, to which Johnnie demurred on statute-of-limitations and other grounds. The court sustained the demurrers, barring Patricia’s cross-complaint. Johnnie moved for summary judgment on Patricia’s remaining claims arising from his alleged promise of support made shortly after the settlement agreement was signed, arguing in part that they were not cohabiting when the promise was made. Summary judgment was granted. Patricia appealed, and the case returned to the California Court of Appeal.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Willhite, J.)
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