May 15, 2009
Court of Appeal grants new trial in long-running marital property rights dispute

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 LEXIS 3836 (California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three) [unpublished].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.