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Phillips v. Campbell Summary

Opinion published August 23, 2016


Factual background


Phillips v. Campbell involved a domestic violence restraining order. A Tennessee court issued a stay away order protecting Amy against James.  Two years later, Amy applied for a DVRO in California.  In her application, Amy recounted James wanted to “move[ ] forward the relationship.”  Amy expressed her disinterest.  Thereafter, James harassed Amy on multiple occasions. 


Trial Court’s Order


The trial court found that “there was a relationship [between the parties] that qualifies as a dating relationship and that the communications and interaction from [James] to [Amy] qualifies for a domestic violence restraining order protecting [Amy].”

Decision on Appeal


On appeal, James argued his relationship with Amy did not rise to the level of “having or [have] had a dating . . .relationship” as defined by Family Code section 6211. Rather, the relationship was one of “best friends” and platonic.  The Court of Appeal responded Family Code section 6210 defined a dating relationship as “frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement independent of financial considerations.”  The code was enacted to counter a former case that held only sexual relationships could result in a protective order. 


The Court of Appeal found the trial court’s finding the parties relationship fell within the code’s definition was supported by substantial evidence.  The evidence, Amy declared the parties ate out together and James stayed at her house.  There were messages between the parties which evidenced physical affection.  Moreover, after Amy rebuffed James’ advances, James sent her messages which clearly evidenced he thought their relationship was much more than a friendship.  While James drew different inferences than the trial court, the appellate court was required to give deference to the trial court’s findings.   

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