Recent Wins: Marc J. Poster
GMSR successfully invokes rarely-used “disentitlement doctrine” to obtain dismissal of appeal from $8.5 million judgment
April 4, 2013
Stoltenberg v. Ampton Investments (2013) 215 Cal. App.4th 161 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Five) [published]. Defendants, who live in New York, appealed from an $8.5 million California fraud judgment in favor of GMSR’s client without obtaining a stay of enforcement. While the California appeal was pending, a New York court held defendants in contempt for resisting plaintiffs’ enforcement efforts. GMSR moved to dismiss the California appeal, invoking the “disentitlement doctrine.” Under this doctrine, an appellate court may deny the right to appeal to a litigant who is in contempt of court in a proceeding related to the matter on appeal. The defendants contended that the doctrine was limited to a contempt of a California court, a question no California court had ever confronted. The Court of Appeal agreed with GMSR that the doctrine should not be so limited. It held in a published decision that because the defendants’ contempt of the New York court’s order directly related to enforcement of the judgment under review in the California Court of Appeal, the defendants had “disentitled” themselves of the right to appeal.
More about the case here.
Stoltenberg v. Ampton Investments (2013) 215 Cal. App.4th 161
Court of Appeal affirms ruling entitling GMSR client to enforce $1.3 million damages award against judgment debtor’s property
November 14, 2012
Dearing v. DeMille (2012) 2012 Cal.App. Unpub LEXIS 8296 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Two) [unpublished]. An institutional trustee won a judgment (which GMSR successfully defended on appeal) ordering the former trustee to pay the trust more than $1 million in damages. The former trustee attempted to stymie enforcement of the judgment by disclaiming his interest in his father’s estate and re-routing his inheritance to his son. The probate court held that the former trustee’s disclaimer did not apply to the property at issue. The Court of Appeal affirmed. It held, as GMSR argued, that the former trustee could not invoke the doctrine of equitable estoppel to avoid satisfying a judgment against him. It also rejected the former trustee’s procedural challenges to the appealed ruling, and affirmed that even in light of proffered extrinsic evidence, the disclaimer was not susceptible to the former trustee’s interpretation.
Dearing v. DeMille (2012) 2012 Cal.App. Unpub LEXIS 8296
GMSR successfully upholds summary judgment in favor of its client in a medical malpractice action
September 9, 2011
Shugart v. The Regents of the University of California (2011) 199 Cal. App. 4th 499 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight) [published]. Plaintiff was treated for urinary incontinence and related conditions, first by a Bakersfield physician and, when that treatment proved unsuccessful, by physicians at UCLA Medical Center. Unsatisfied with the outcome of her treatments, plaintiff and her husband sued both the Bakersfield physician and GMSR’s client, The Regents of the University of California, for medical malpractice. Both defendants obtained summary judgment.
Although the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment in favor of the other physician, who was represented by other counsel, it affirmed the judgment in favor of The Regents. The appellate court held there was no disputed issue of material fact that would justify a trial as to the alleged liability of the UCLA physician named in plaintiffs’ complaint. As GMSR had argued, the pleadings define the scope of the issues on a summary judgment motion, and plaintiffs’ opposition to The Regents’ summary judgment motion pinpointed the conduct of a physician other than the physician charged in their complaint as the alleged wrongdoer at UCLA Medical Center. And, even as to the uncharged UCLA physician, the appellate court agreed that plaintiffs’ evidence was too conclusory and insubstantial to create a triable issue of fact as to the alleged malpractice.
Shugart v. The Regents of the University of California (2011) 199 Cal. App. 4th 499
Ninth Circuit clarifies the scope of the work-for-hire doctrine and reinstates a multimillion-dollar copyright judgment for GMSR’s client
August 16, 2010
Jules Jordan Video, Inc. v. 144942 Canada Inc., et al. (9th Cir. 2010) 617 F.3d 1146 (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) [published]. In a published opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a $2.6 million judgment for GMSR’s client in a copyright infringement case involving the piracy of thirteen films. In the process, the court clarified how the work-for-hire doctrine should be applied to a creative, sole proprietorship situation, where the creator has established and wholly controls a company to produce and distribute his creative works. The court did, however, vacate the right of publicity judgment the client had obtained on the basis that the publicity claim was preempted by the Copyright Act.
Jules Jordan Video, Inc. v. 144942 Canada Inc., et al., (9th Cir. 2010) 617 F.3d 1146
Court of Appeal affirms rulings voiding fraudulent transfer and permitting GMSR client to enforce $1 million appellate bond
June 9, 2010
Citizens Business Bank v. DeMille (2010) 2010 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 4316 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Two) [unpublished]. The institutional trustee for a family trust won a judgment (which GMSR successfully defended on appeal) ordering the former trustee to pay the trust more than $1 million in damages. The former trustee posted a $1 million undertaking to stay enforcement of the judgment and then, after the trial court found the undertaking inadequate, purported to have transferred all of his assets to his son. The trial court held that the trust could enforce the undertaking and that the purported transfer was void. The Court of Appeal affirmed both rulings. It held, as GMSR argued, that the undertaking was enforceable under a statute that makes a guarantor liable even if its bond is defective. The court further affirmed that the purported asset transfer was void because it was not accompanied by an actual change in possession as required by the fraudulent transfer statute.
Citizens Business Bank v. DeMille (2010) 2010 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 4316
Court of Appeal reverses probate court order refusing to enforce charitable testamentary gift
March 18, 2010
Banks v. Pacific Homes Foundation (2010) 2010 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 1942 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Five) [unpublished]. The petitioner, as successor trustee, sought a determination that a substantial gift to GMSR’s client, Pacific Homes Foundation, had lapsed and that the gift should go instead to residuary beneficiaries, including the trustee. The gift was for the construction of a health care center at the retirement community where the trustors had lived for many years. The probate court agreed with the trustee that the gift had lapsed because by the time the trustors died the center had already been built. In an unpublished decision, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, reversed with directions to enter judgment in the Foundation’s favor. The Court adopted GMSR’s argument that (1) a charitable gift should be construed liberally to effectuate the charitable purpose and (2) the gift had not lapsed because it could still be used to pay down the substantial debt that had been incurred to finance speedier construction of the health care center.
Banks v. Pacific Homes Foundation (2010) 2010 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 1942
Court of Appeal reverses dismissal of trade secret misappropriation claims
December 29, 2009
Jasmine Networks, Inc v. Superior Court (2009) 180 Cal.App.4th 980 (California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District). The trial court dismissed a trade secrets misappropriation suit on the eve of trial, concluding that the plaintiff lost standing to pursue its claims when it sold what was left of the trade secrets to a third party but expressly retained its interest in the litigation. GMSR petitioned for a writ of mandate on behalf of the plaintiff. The petition argued that neither the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act nor any other authority requires a plaintiff to maintain ownership of its misappropriated trade secrets in order to recover for damages already incurred. The Court of Appeal agreed in a published opinion, holding that there is no “current ownership” requirement and ordering the trial court to reinstate the plaintiff’s suit.
Jasmine Networks, Inc v. Superior Court (2009) 180 Cal.App.4th 980
Court of Appeal reverses order purporting to enforce pre-trial settlement as inconsistent with settlement’s terms
August 27, 2009
Murphy v. Hansen (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 6975 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One) [unpublished]. After GMSR’s client purchased a Malibu hilltop homesite together with essential access easements, a neighboring landowner challenged the easements’ existence. The multiple disputing parties in two lawsuits entered into a complex written settlement agreement involving transfers of land, easements, trust deeds, and cash—but then could not agree on the interests to be transferred. The trial court nevertheless issued an order enforcing the settlement against GMSR’s client. On appeal from that order the Court of Appeal confirmed that the enforcement did not square with the settlement agreement, setting aside the order and leaving open the question whether the settlement can be enforced at all.
Murphy v. Hansen (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 6975
Court of Appeal grants new trial in long-running marital property rights dispute
May 15, 2009
In re Marriage of Feliciano (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 3836 (California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three) [unpublished]. GMSR’s client Janna Feliciano and musician Jose Feliciano divorced in 1978. Their community property included royalty rights for dozens of Janna’s and Jose’s compositions and Jose’s recordings, including still-popular original works such as Feliz Navidad and covers of other songs such as Light My Fire. Despite numerous court orders and discovery sanctions, Jose never fully accounted to Janna for her share of these royalty rights. In a post-judgment proceeding originally filed in 1996, the trial court denied Janna any claim to certain royalties, found her claim to her share of other royalties barred by statute of limitations, and refused, on procedural grounds, to consider her claim to reimbursement for attorney’s fees and costs she incurred because of Jose’s intransigence.
The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded for reconsideration on all three points. It held that the trial court’s interpretation of the 1978 marital dissolution judgment, which precluded Janna from sharing in certain royalties, was unfounded; that there is no statute of limitations on such claims; and that Janna is entitled to a ruling on the merits of her claim to fees and costs.
In re Marriage of Feliciano (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 3836
Court of Appeal rules real estate broker’s known dual representation did not breach its fiduciary duty
January 13, 2009
Amber Hotel Company v. Shawn Chen, et al. (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 253 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Seven) [unpublished]. Defendants listed their hotel for sale with GMSR’s client, a commercial real estate broker, and promised to pay a commission on sale. The broker procured a ready, willing and able buyer at the full asking price. Defendants nevertheless refused to go through with the sale, asserting that they never intended to sell the hotel and that the broker knew they were just testing the waters. The trial court disbelieved defendants' story, found them liable for fraud and breach of contract, and awarded damages in the amount of the agreed-upon commission plus interest and attorney's fees. On appeal, defendants argued that the broker was not entitled to a commission because it was representing both buyer and seller in the transaction without defendants' prior consent. The Court of Appeal rejected the argument, explaining that in a commercial real estate transaction a broker's duty is not to obtain consent to dual representation before an offer is made but rather before the sale is completed, and in this case the broker fully disclosed the dual representation in the buyer's full-price offer as well as in previous offers by other potential buyers. The Court held, moreover, that defendants were estopped to complain of the dual representation and of other alleged deficiencies in the terms of the buyer's offer and proposed escrow instructions because defendants failed to object at a time when the deficiencies could have been corrected.
Amber Hotel Company v. Shawn Chen, et al. (2009), 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 253
Clarifying a line of published authority, Court of Appeal holds that policyholder must arbitrate attorney fee claims in insurance bad faith action arising out of carrier’s defense of lawsuit against insured
December 17, 2008
Compulink Management Center, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 289 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Seven) [published]. An insured sued GMSR’s insurance carrier client for insurance bad faith arising in part out of a dispute concerning the payment of attorney’s fees to independent counsel representing the insured. Relying on an existing published decision, the trial court refused to compel a Civil Code section 2860 arbitration of the attorney fee dispute because that was not the sole dispute between the parties.
The Court of Appeal, agreeing with GMSR, concluded that the prior appellate decision had misconstrued early authority. The court here held that where an attorney fee dispute exists regarding fees to be paid to independent counsel, Civil Code section 2860 requires arbitration of that dispute, notwithstanding that there are other disputes between the parties.
Compulink Management Center, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 289
In first-impression case, Court of Appeal holds that a renewed judgment includes accrued post-judgment interest; and that interest accrues on the total renewed judgment
November 13, 2008
OCM Principal Opportunities Fund v. CIBC World Markets (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 185 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Four). [published]. GMSR co-counseled with Hennigan Bennett & Dorman in this second appellate victory for the prevailing plaintiffs and respondents in a case of first impression involving the accumulation of interest on a multi-million dollar judgment. In prior cross-appeals from the judgment, also co-counseled by GMSR, the Court of Appeal upheld plaintiffs' $31 million jury verdict and reversed the trial court's denial of plaintiffs' request for prejudgment interest. While the cross-appeals were pending (they took several years), plaintiffs applied for renewal of the judgment. The clerk followed statutory procedures and entered a renewed judgment in an amount equal to the prior judgment plus post-judgment interest that had accrued at 10% per annum for the prior three and a half years. Defendants moved to vacate the renewed judgment on the ground that it violated the state constitutional provision specifying that judgments bear interest at 10% per annum. Defendants argued, among other things, that adding accrued interest to the amount of the judgment and then computing future interest at 10% on the aggregate amount impermissibly compounded interest at more than the 10% rate set by the constitution. The trial court denied defendants' motion to vacate the renewal, and defendants appealed again.
The Court of Appeal affirmed in favor of GMSR's clients. By statute, the Court ruled, a judgment is enforceable for ten years; it can be renewed any time within the ten-year period, even while an appeal is pending, but not again for five years; the renewed judgment includes the amount of the original judgment plus accrued interest. The Constitution does not expressly prohibit compounding of post-judgment interest, nor does it specify that 10% interest is limited to simple interest. Bowing to the Legislature's interpretation, the Court held that permitting renewal of the judgment once every five years does not "positively and certainly" offend the constitution.
OCM Principal Opportunities Fund v. CIBC World Markets (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 185
California Supreme Court voids non-competition covenant, affirming California’s strong policy against such agreements
August 7, 2008
Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937 (California Supreme Court). Emphasizing the strong public policy underlying Business and Professions Code section 16600, the Supreme Court rejected the so-called “narrow restraint” exception to California’s statutory bar on employee covenants not to compete with former employers.
Section 16600 voids "every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind . . . ." As GMSR urged on behalf of its employee client, the Supreme Court held that the statute means what it says: A noncompete that would in any way restrain an employee from working for another employer is void. Federal courts had interpreted California law to permit "narrow" restraints, but the Supreme Court said that the federal courts had gotten it wrong. It also disapproved previous California state-court decisions that even implied the existence of such an exception.
This important decision reaffirms California's public policy in favor of employee mobility, which encourages innovation and competition. It levels the playing field for employees who seek to maximize their talents and attainments.
In addition, as GMSR had advocated, the Supreme Court kept alive the employee’s case on whether an employer can validly require an employee to sign a release of "any and all" claims against the employer as a pre-condition for the employer’s facilitating the employee's transfer to a new job. Although the Supreme Court held that a release of "any and all claims" does not necessarily imply a release of claims that by law cannot be waived, the Court left it open for the employee to prove that the particular release his employer insisted he sign was invalid because the employer knew it was asking him to release claims that the Labor Code says cannot be waived.
Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937
Court of Appeal reverses the charging of administrative trust expenses to GMSR’s client
January 28, 2008
In the Matter of the James G. Stull Living Trust (2008) 2008 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 697 (California Second District Court of Appeal, Division Six) [unpublished]. In approving a trust accounting involving a settlor’s trust that divided into two subtrusts upon the settlor’s death—one for the benefit of his children and one for the benefit of their stepmother, the settlor’s surviving spouse—the trial court ruled that all trust administrative expenses must be charged to the children’s subtrust rather than allocated between the two subtrusts. Representing the children on appeal, GMSR argued that the court erred by refusing to hear extrinsic evidence that the trustor did not intend their subtrust to bear all the expenses. The Court of Appeal agreed and ordered a new hearing.
In the Matter of the James G. Stull Living Trust (2008) 2008 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 697
In securities fraud action, appellate court affirms $32.1 million judgment for GMSR's clients and remands for additional award of prejudgment interest
December 5, 2007
OCM Principal Opportunities Fund v. CIBC World Markets (2007) 2007 Cal.App. LEXIS 1995 (California Second District Court of Appeal, Division Four). [published]. Plaintiffs brought an action for fraud and securities law violations against an investment banker, alleging that the defendant banker had aided and abetted the marketing of the promissory notes knowing that the issuer was on the brink of extinction. The original sale of the notes enabled the defendant to recover its own investment in the company, leaving subsequent note purchasers, including plaintiffs, with virtually worthless pieces of paper. The $32.1 million judgment reflected the jury's $52 million verdict adjusted for settlements that the plaintiffs received from other sources.
In the appeal, GMSR co-counseled with plaintiffs' trial counsel, Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment against the defendant. In a 63-page published decision, it rejected the defendant's attack on the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's findings, as well as the defendant's arguments that it owed no duty to the plaintiffs because the plaintiffs purchased the notes on the open market and that the judgment included twice the amount of damages the jury intended to award. On plaintiffs' cross-appeal, the court reversed the trial court's denial of prejudgment interest, holding that interest must be awarded when a defendant has willfully violated state securities laws.
Court of Appeal affirms $1.9 million judgment against former trustee for taking trust property in bad faith
November 7, 2007
De Mille v. Citizens Bus. Bank (2007) 2007 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 9019 (California Second District Court of Appeal, Division Two) [unpublished]. A trust settlor’s nephew, the trustee of the trust, attempted through forgery and undue influence to change the terms of the trust for his own benefit. When the nephew sought to have the changes confirmed by the probate court, those who would have been disinherited by the revisions objected and sought damages based on the value of property that the nephew had already wrongfully taken from the trust. The probate court removed the nephew as trustee, ordered disgorgement, and imposed double damages. The nephew appealed, arguing in part that he had not misappropriated any trust funds, that a notice defect precluded the judgment, and – in a matter of apparent first impression – that the award of disgorgement plus double damages violated the Probate Code. GMSR attorneys Alana Hoffman and Marc Poster, representing the successor trustee, persuaded the Court of Appeal to reject these arguments and to affirm the $1.9 million judgment in favor of the trust.
Court of Appeal affirms judgment denying $1 million surcharge against GMSR client, the trustee of family trust
October 10, 2007
For fifteen years following the death of their mother, the trustor of a family trust, siblings struggled unsuccessfully to agree on how to dispose of trust property. Finally, some siblings petitioned the probate court to surcharge the trustee, another sibling, for allegedly failing to make trust property more productive while his siblings squabbled. The probate court denied the requested surcharge. The disgruntled siblings appealed. The appellate court affirmed in the trustee's favor, holding there was substantial evidence to support the probate court's implied findings that the trustee's actions were reasonable, that his siblings had consented to his actions, and that the disgruntled siblings unreasonably delayed seeking judicial relief.
California Supreme Court rules that Commercial Code provisions preempt common law causes of action against bank and require customer's prompt objection to bank's allegedly unauthorized funds transfers
June 4, 2007
Zengen, Inc. v. Comerica Bank, (2007) 41 Cal.4th 239 (California Supreme Court). Marc Poster and Irving Greines assisted co-counsel (Robert Addison and Jeffrey Wruble of the Buchalter Nemer firm) in drafting Comerica's victorious brief on the merits in the Supreme Court and in preparing for a successful oral argument. Zengen's chief financial officer allegedly embezzled $4.6 million by forging orders to wire transfer funds from a Zengen account at Comerica Bank. Zengen sued Comerica, claiming breach of contract and other common law claims as well as violation of California Commercial Code provisions regarding commercial funds transfers. The Supreme Court adopted Comerica's contentions that (1) specific provisions of the Code, which allocate responsibilities for such unauthorized transfers, preempt all common law causes of action, and (2) because a bank is not necessarily responsible for all unauthorized funds transfers, Comerica was entitled to prompt notice that the customer intends to hold the bank responsible.
Court of Appeal affirms judgment under "law of the case" doctrine
March 19, 2007
Frankston v. Glenn (2007) 2007 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 2200 (Second District [Los Angeles], Division 4.) [unpublished]. In a previous appeal, Irving Greines and Marc Poster obtained the reversal of a multi-million-dollar judgment and and order directing entry of judgment for the defendants. Frankston v. Glenn (2003) 2003 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8951 (Second District [Los Angeles], Division 7).
After the trial court followed the Court of Appeal's direction and entered judgment in defendants' favor, the plaintiff moved for a new trial on grounds that he had newly-discovered evidence and that the Court of Appeal's decision was wrong and denied him due process of law. The trial court denied plaintiff's motion.
Plaintiff appealed. Irving and Marc again successfully represented the defendants, arguing that the judgment and order denying the plaintiff's new trial motion should be affirmed because plaintiff's contentions were barred by the doctrine of "law of the case" and because plaintiff's so-called newly-discovered evidence was in fact not new.
Five-year dismissal of case reversed because it was impracticable to bring the case to trial
December 20, 2006
Gordon v. Maslan, (2006) Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 11452 (California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three (Los Angeles)) [unpublished]. Marc Poster convinced the Court of Appeal that it was improper for the trial court to dismiss GMSR’s client's complaint for failure to bring to trial within five years. The court ruled that the impracticability exception to the five year statute applied, since the key defendant in the case refused to participate in discovery or testify while criminal proceedings, arising from the same facts as this case, were pending against him. As a result, there was sufficient tolling to nullify the five year dismissal.
Law firm must indemnify its former attorney for attorneys' fees incurred in defending malpractice action
November 29, 2006
Cassady v. Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP, (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 220 (California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three (Los Angeles)) [published]. Marc Poster secured this published victory for GMSR's client, attorney Ralph Cassady. Cassady once worked for Morgan Lewis, and after he left the firm, both he and Morgan Lewis were sued for malpractice by a long-time client of Cassady. Morgan Lewis defended itself but refused to defend or indemnify Cassady. After the malpractice suit was over, Cassady sought indemnity from Morgan Lewis under Labor Code section 2802 for his attorney fees incurred in defending the malpractice suit. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Morgan Lewis on the purported ground that Cassady couldn't prove what portion of his attorney fees were attributable to events occurring during his time of employment at Morgan Lewis. But then, on Cassady's motion for new trial, the court changed its mind and denied summary judgment. Morgan Lewis appealed. The Court of Appeal affirmed the order granting new trial in a published opinion.
Attorney disqualification order reversed in first-impression case
September 20, 2006
Fremont Indemnity Co. v. Fremont General Corp. (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 50 (California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three (Los Angeles)) [published]. Marc Poster and Kent Richland secured this victory. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court had erred in disqualifying GMSR's client law firm from representing Fremont General in an action brought by the Insurance Commissioner on behalf of Fremont General's former subsidiary, Fremont Indemnity, now in liquidation. Deciding an issue of first impression, the Court concluded that the client law firm's simultaneous representation of Fremont General and Fremont Indemnity in unrelated actions while those two entities were adverse in a third unrelated action did not constitute a conflict of interest requiring disqualification.
Affirmance of dismissal ends employment claim saga
July 24, 2006
Feied v. Regents of the University of California, (2006) Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 6428 (California Court of Appeal, First District, Division Four (San Francisco)) [unpublished]. Marc Poster secured this victory in association with University counsel. A former University of California employee sought continuing retirement benefits even though he had cashed out of the University's retirement system when he left University employment many years ago. First, he lost a state breach of contract case based on the statute of limitations. Then, he lost a federal civil rights case based on the statute of limitations and on Eleventh Amendment immunity. Finally, he lost another state case, this time for negligence, based on failure to state a cause of action. The Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal of the second state case because, contrary to the employee's assertion, the University owed no duty to inform him of the "actual reasons" for denying his request for retirement benefits.