Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams and Ehlert Hicks recently secured a rare win in a writ proceeding before the California Court of Appeal. The underlying case — Dr. Meena Zareh v. County of Los Angeles, University of Southern California, et al., is pending in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The writ petition challenged a protective order entered by the Los Angeles Superior Court which prevented the firm’s client, Dr. Meena Zareh, from deposing the former Dean of the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine (“KSOM”). The plaintiff is a medical doctor who was a post-graduate cardiology fellow at the LAC + USC Medical Center—a teaching hospital that is jointly operated by Los Angeles County and USC—when she was sexually assaulted by her supervisor while on duty. Discovery revealed that the former Dean of KSOM possessed relevant information about what USC did and what it failed to do when the plaintiff reported the sexual assault. Nonetheless, the trial court barred the plaintiff from deposing the former dean on the grounds that she was an “apex” employee and therefore too high up on the organizational chart to be compelled to sit for a deposition.
The Court of Appeal (Second District) issued a stay on the same day that the writ petition was filed, subsequently instructed USC to file a formal opposition, and ultimately issued an alternative writ in which it directed the trial court to vacate its protective order. The trial court promptly did so, clearing the way for the deposition to proceed.