Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that this lawsuit brought by security guards at Oracle Park (the former AT&T Park in San Francisco) against San Francisco Baseball Associates LLC (the Giants) alleging a violation of Cal. Lab. Code 201, subd. (a) was preempted under federal law and must be submitted to arbitration, holding that the trial court correctly denied the Giants' motion to compel arbitration. In this action, the guards claimed that they were discharged after every Giants homestead, at the end of the baseball season, and after other events at the park, and that they were entitled under section 201 to receive their unpaid wages immediately after each discharge. The Giants moved to compel arbitration, arguing that this action was preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act because the controversy required interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) entered into between the parties. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) while the CBA may be relevant to this lawsuit, the dispute turned on the meaning of "discharge" under section 201 rather than an interpretation of the CBA itself; and (2) therefore, the lawsuit was not preempted, and state courts may decide it on the merits. View "Melendez v. San Francisco Baseball Associates LLC" on Justia Law

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In this question involving one of the economical litigation rules the Supreme Court accepted a request by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to decide a question of state law regarding Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 98(1) and answered that section 98(a) does not categorically require that all affiants be personally present for service at an address within 150 miles of the place of trial for a reasonable period during the twenty days prior to trial. The issue before the Supreme Court arose from a limited civil case. The Ninth Circuit asked the Supreme Court whether, when a party offers into evidence an affidavit or declaration and a copy of affidavit has been served on the party against whom it is offered, section 98(a) requires the affiant to be located and personally available for service at the address provided in the declaration that is within 150 miles of the place of trial. The Supreme Court answered as set forth above, holding that a section 98(a) affiant’s personal availability for service at an address within 150 miles of the place of trial will often be required for her affidavit to be admissible as evidence but that such presence is not invariably necessary for all affiants. View "Meza v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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As applied to in forma pauperis litigants who are entitled to a waiver of official court reporter fees, the San Diego Superior Court’s general policy of not providing official court reporters in most civil trials while permitting privately retained court reporters for parties who can afford to pay for such reporters is invalid, and an official court reporter, or other valid means to create an official verbatim record for purposes of appeal, must generally be made available to in forma pauperis litigants upon request. Plaintiff was statutorily entitled to a waiver of official court reporter attendance fees but did not have a court reporter at a his civil trial because of the San Diego Superior Court’s policy, which provided that a court reporter would be present at a civil trial only if a private court reporter was hired and paid for by a party or the parties to the litigation. Because no court reporter was present at Plaintiff’s trial, the court of appeal rejected Plaintiff’s appeal on the ground that Plaintiff’s legal contentions could not be pursued in the absence of a reporter’s transcript. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court policy was invalid as applied to plaintiff and other fee waiver recipients. View "Jameson v. Desta" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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At issue was the claim and issue preclusive significance in future litigation of a conclusion relied on by the trial court and challenged on appeal but not addressed by the appellate court. The Supreme Court overruled People v. Skidmore, 27 Cal. 287 (1865), holding that Skidmore reflects a flawed view of preclusion and that stare decisis does not compel continued adherence to Skidmore. Plaintiff sued both Dr. Haitham Matar and Dr. Stephen Nahigian for professional negligence and alleged that Matar was vicariously liable for Nahigian’s alleged tort. The trial court granted summary judgment for both defendants in two successive judgments. In the first judgment with respect to Nahigian, the trial court concluded that the suit was untimely and that there was no genuine issue regarding causation. In the second judgment, the trial court concluded that the court’s earlier no-causation determination precluded holding Matar liable for Nahigian’s conduct. The court of appeals affirmed the first judgment on statute of limitations grounds without reaching the no-causation ground. As to Matar, the court of appeal reversed, concluding that claim preclusion was unavailable because Plaintiff sued both defendants in a single lawsuit and that Skidmore was inapplicable to issue preclusion. The Supreme Court held that Skidmore must be overruled and that Matar was not entitled to summary judgment on preclusion grounds. View "Samara v. Matar" on Justia Law

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Subject to the trial court’s discretion to permit late filing, a defendant must move to strike a cause of action under Cal. Code Civ. P. 425.16 - California’s anti-SLAPP statute - within sixty days of service of the earliest complaint that contains that cause of action. Within sixty days of the filing of a third amended complaint but not within sixty days of any earlier complaint, Defendants moved to strike that complaint under section 425.16. Specifically, Defendants sought to strike Plaintiffs’ claim alleged in the first and subsequent complaints that Defendants fraudulently settled an unlawful detainer action. The trial court denied the motion as untimely. The court of appeal affirmed, ruling that a defendant must file an anti-SLAPP motion within sixty days of service of the first complaint that pleads a cause of action coming within section 425.16(b)(1) unless the trial court in its discretion permits the motion to be filed at a later time. The court also concluded that Defendants’ motion was timely as to the new causes of action pleaded for the first time in the third amended complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeal property interpreted section 425.16(f). View "Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism" on Justia Law

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The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., does not preempt unfair competition and consumer protection claims based on workplace safety and health violations when, as in California, there is a state plan approved by the federal Secretary of Labor. The Division of Occupational Safety and Health charged Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC with five violations of state occupational safety and health regulations. The District Attorney of Orange County subsequently filed this action for civil penalties under the state’s unfair competition law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17200, and fair advertising law (FAL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17500. The court of appeal concluded that the federal OSH Act preempted the district attorney’s UCL and FAL claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no implied or express preemption of the district attorney’s UCL and FAL claims. View "Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC v. Superior Court of Orange County" on Justia Law

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The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., does not preempt unfair competition and consumer protection claims based on workplace safety and health violations when, as in California, there is a state plan approved by the federal Secretary of Labor. The Division of Occupational Safety and Health charged Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC with five violations of state occupational safety and health regulations. The District Attorney of Orange County subsequently filed this action for civil penalties under the state’s unfair competition law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17200, and fair advertising law (FAL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17500. The court of appeal concluded that the federal OSH Act preempted the district attorney’s UCL and FAL claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no implied or express preemption of the district attorney’s UCL and FAL claims. View "Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC v. Superior Court of Orange County" on Justia Law

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The trial court in this case should enter a final judgment from which Plaintiff can appeal. Plaintiff sued Defendant. The trial court dismissed some of Plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. In order to permit Plaintiff to appeal the trial court’s partial order of dismissal, the parties agreed to dismiss the remaining claims against one another without prejudice. The Supreme Court, however, held that the trial court’s judgment was not final and appealable because the parties had effectively preserved their remaining claims for future litigation. Since then, Plaintiff made several efforts to secure a final and appealable trial court judgment. Plaintiff eventually attempted to finalize the judgment by dismissing his own outstanding claims with prejudice. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal because Defendant had not disposed of his outstanding cross-claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit for a different reason, holding that, so long as no final an appealable judgment has been entered in this case, the trial court retains the authority to render one. The court remanded the case to permit the trial court to exercise its authority to vacate its defective 2010 judgment and the parties’ underlying stipulation and enter a final judgment from which Plaintiff can appeal. View "Kurwa v. Kislinger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal ruling that a court’s error in failing to issue a statement of decision as required by Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 632 is not reversible per se but is subject to harmless error review. The trial court issued a tentative decision finding that Defendant committed acts of sexual assault against Plaintiff and that Defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiff’s counsel submitted a proposed judgment to the court. The court signed the judgment without issuing a separate statement of decision. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in failing to issue a statement of decision and that the error was reversible per se. The court of appeals concluded that the trial court erred but that the error did not result in a miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a trial court’s error in failing to issue a statement of decision upon a timely request is not reversible per se but is, rather, subject to harmless error review. View "F.P. v. Monier" on Justia Law

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In 2012, plaintiff filed suit against Doe No. 1, a public entity, alleging that she was molested by defendant's employee when she was a high school student from 1993-1994. After the claim was denied, she filed this instant action against Doe No. 1 and Doe Nos. 2-20, alleging that latent memories of the sexual abuse resurfaced in early 2012, when she was about 34 years old. The Supreme Court of California held that the 2012 claim was not timely in light of Shirk v. Vista Unified School Dist. (2007) 42 Cal.4th 201. The court explained that when the Legislature amended Code Civ. Proc., 340.1 without modifying the claims requirement, and later overruled Shirk, but only prospectively, it took measured actions that protected public entities from potential liability for stale claims regarding conduct allegedly occurring before January 1, 2009, in which the public entity had no ability to do any fiscal planning, or opportunity to investigate the matter and take remedial action. View "Rubenstein v. Doe No. 1" on Justia Law