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Guzman v. Visalia Community Bank

California Court of Appeal
84 Cal. Rptr. 2d 581 (1999)


Facts

Marie Guzman (plaintiff) was laid off by Visalia Community Bank (Visalia) (defendant) as part of a reduction in force. Guzman sued Visalia, alleging sexual discrimination and hostile work environment. Visalia moved for summary judgment. While the motion was pending, under California Code of Civil Procedure § 998, Visalia sent Guzman a formal offer to settle the case for $60,000. The parties’ attorneys discussed various issues during two phone conversations. The § 998 offer was one of the issues discussed, and Guzman’s attorney characterized the offer as insulting and demeaning. However, no final decision on the offer was discussed. On June 11, the trial court informed the parties of the court’s tentative decision to grant the summary-judgment motion. Initially, Guzman’s attorney told Visalia’s attorney that she intended to present oral argument opposing the motion for summary judgment. However, later that evening, Guzman’s attorney faxed a letter accepting the § 998 offer. At the hearing the next day, the trial court determined that the comments made by Guzman’s attorney on the phone regarding the § 998 offer constituted a rejection of the offer. The trial court then granted summary judgment to Visalia. Guzman appealed to the California Court of Appeal.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Levy, J.)

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