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S.C.V. History
September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]
Clampitt fire


Commentary by Carl Kanowsky, Esq.
| Friday, Mar 28, 2014
Carl Kanowsky, Esq.

Carl Kanowsky, Esq.

The decision of Shanahan vs. State Farm (March 8, 2011) presented another example of men – especially men who should know better – behaving badly.

His excuses and rationalizations were sure to have the justices suppressing smiles in front of the public while busting a gut in private.

John Shanahan, founder of Hooked on Phonics and friend to radio personality Dr. Laura Schlessinger, allegedly has a penchant for married women who work out. In fact, he has such a yen for this type of woman that he lost nearly $2 million pursuing one.

Our boy Shanahan, according to the opinion from the Court of Appeal, is married and has enough money to keep an attorney on staff full-time. This attorney, Cheryl Skigin, is also married – just not to Shanahan, to his dismay.

While Shanahan denies all accusations, his later actions demonstrate a lack of conviction in the denial.

It seems that while Skigin was at Shanahan’s house for a Christmas party, he grabbed a certain portion of her anatomy and exclaimed about how effective horseback riding was in firming and toning her body. Skigin failed to respond as Shanahan had hoped.

Shanahan was not deterred. He knew he could convince Skigin he was everything she was looking for in a man. So, confidently, he inquired as to her willingness – in fact, her eager desire – to engage in a sexual relationship with him.

Amazingly, Skigin was able to resist Shanahan’s charms and declined the eloquent invitation.

Shanahan is nothing if not persistent. He took Skigin on a business trip to Ireland, where he urged her to share an apartment with him. When she rejected his entreaties, he sent flowers to her home (where her husband also lived) and enclosed a card that suggested a strong personal relationship — not something you’re supposed to get from your boss.

Skigin got fed up and sued Shanahan. He paid his attorneys about $1.2 million to defend him, and eventually he settled by paying $700,000 to Skigin. (If any of you know someone who wants to give me more than a million bucks to defend him — and then settle — please have him or her give me a call.)

Apparently, Shanahan was feeling a little tapped out, as he asked State Farm, his renter’s insurer, to reimburse these dollars. Amazingly, State Farm declined. So he sued them.

Shanahan asserted there were theories under which he would have been covered by the insurance, including negligence, slander and invasion of privacy. His argument was that maybe he “negligently” played grab-…, as opposed to doing it on purpose.

In reading the opinion, you could almost hear the justices guffaw.

“We fail to see how grabbing (a portion of the woman’s body), squeezing it and telling her that its firmness must be the result of all her horseback riding, could have been accidental.”

Gasping for air, Shanahan then tried the argument that because he “touched” and propositioned Skigin at a Christmas party in front of others, he was perhaps guilty of slander, so State Farm should pay up.

The problem? No one saw Shanahan groping or heard him suggesting sexual congress, so there was no “publication,” a crucial element in any slander cause of action.

Flailing his arms, Shanahan begged the court to agree that sending flowers to Skigin’s home was an invasion of her privacy. The court summarily rejected this because Shanahan could offer no authority for this argument.

Then, as a final insult to Shanahan, the justices ordered him to reimburse State Farm for its costs on appeal.

Maybe a long horseback ride will give him some solace. It doesn’t look like anyone else will.

 

Carl Kanowsky of Kanowsky & Associates is an attorney in the Santa Clarita Valley. He may be reached by email at cjk@kanowskylaw.com. Nothing contained herein shall be or is intended to be construed as providing legal advice.

 

 

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