Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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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

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The Supreme Court granted reviewing this PAGA action to consider the scope of discovery available in PAGA actions. The court held that, in non-PAGA class actions, the contact information of those a plaintiff purports to represent is routinely discoverable without any requirement that the plaintiff first show good cause, and nothing in the characteristics of a PAGA suit affords a basis for restricting discovery more narrowly. The court thus reversed the trial court’s discovery order denying Plaintiff’s motion seeking contact information for fellow California employees in other state Marshalls of CA, LLC stores in this representative action seeking civil penalties on behalf of the State and aggrieved employees statewide for alleged wage and hour violations. The court held that Marshalls did not meet its burden of establishing cause to refuse Plaintiff an answer to his interrogatory seeking the identity and contact information of his fellow Marshalls employees. View "Williams v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

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The rule announced in Bond v. United Railroads, 159 Cal. 270 (Cal. 1911), that the statute authorizing appeals of postjudgment orders covers denials of Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 663 motions remains valid. Plaintiff sued Defendant. The trial court eventually dismissed the action on the grounds that Plaintiff had abandoned the case. Two months later, Plaintiff moved to vacate the judgment. The motion cited and quoted from section 663, which allows an aggrieved party in a civil case to move the trial court to vacate its final judgment. The trial court denied the motion. Plaintiff appealed both the order dismissing the case and the order denying his motion to vacate the judgment. The court of appeal dismissed the appeal as untimely and ruled that an order denying a section 663 motion is not appealable. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeal’s order and transferred the matter back to that court, holding that a statutory appeal from a ruling denying a section 663 motion “is distinct from an appeal of a trial court judgment and is permissible without regard to whether the issues raised in the appeal from the denial of the second 663 motion overlap with issues that were or could have raised in an appeal of the judgment.” View "Ryan v. Rosenfeld" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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An individual’s standing to sue under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 526a does not require the payment of a property tax, as an allegation that the plaintiff has paid an assessed tax to the defendant locality is sufficient under section 526a. The trial court filed a stipulated order and judgment of dismissal dismissing for lack of standing Plaintiff’s complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the manner in which the City of San Rafael and County of Marin enforced Cal. Veh. Code 14602.6. The court of appeal affirmed, concluding that an individual plaintiff must be liable to pay a property tax within the relevant locality, or have paid a property tax during the previous year, to have standing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeal erred when it held that payment of a property tax was required under section 526a. View "Weatherford v. City of San Rafael" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-taxpayers filed a complaint against the City of Los Angeles and the Director of the Los Angeles Zoo (collectively, the City) alleging that the zoo was abusing its elephants. The trial court granted summary judgment to the City, ruling that the complaint raised nonjusticiable issues of public policy. The court of appeals reversed. After a bench trial, the trial court issued injunctions against the City. The court of appeal affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeal’s earlier decision established law of the case, thus barring the City’s new argument that the claim for equitable relief was precluded by Cal. Civ. Code 3369; and (2) the Legislature authorized taxpayer actions aimed at enjoining government expenditures that support criminal conduct. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) this case is governed by the general rule that law of the case does not apply to arguments that might have been but were not presented and resolved on an earlier appeal; and (2) the Legislature did not intend to overturn the long-established law governing equitable relief for violations of penal law when it amended Civil Code section 3369, but rather maintained the rule that a taxpayer action will not lie to enforce a Penal Code provision. View "Leider v. Lewis" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the application of the general rule that a litigant may appeal an adverse ruling only after the trial court renders a final judgment when a trial court has granted a petition for writ of administrative mandamus and remanded the matter for proceedings before an administrative body. The court of appeal dismissed Defendant’s appeal, concluding that the superior court’s order remanding the matter to the administrative body was not a final, appealable order. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of Defendant’s appeal and remanded the matter to the court of appeal with directions to reinstate the appeal, holding that because the issuance of the writ marked the end of the writ proceeding in the trial court, even if it did not definitely resolve the dispute between the parties, the trial court’s order was a final judgment. View "Dhillon v. John Muir Health" on Justia Law

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Section 391.7’s prefiling process applies to self-represented plaintiffs who have been declared vexatious litigants. Plaintiff initiated an unlawful detainer action against Defendant. Defendant largely represented herself in the case. The trial court issued a writ of possession. Defendant appealed. In a separately filed action in which Defendant was the plaintiff and appellant, the Court of Appeal declared Defendant a vexatious litigant plaintiff. The court also entered a prefiling order under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 391.7(c) that prohibited Defendant from filing any new litigation in California courts. In the instant case, the trial court’s appellate division dismissed Defendant’s consolidated appeals. Defendant petitioned the Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate directing the appellate division in the consolidated appeals to decide the appeals on their merits. The Court of Appeal ordered the appellate division to vacate its order dismissing Defendant’s appeals, concluding that a defendant’s status as a vexatious litigant plaintiff in one matter cannot limit that same defendant’s ability to pursue her appeal in an action she did not initiate as a plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that 391.7’s prefiling requirements do not apply to declared vexatious litigants who are self-represented defendants appealing from an adverse judgment in litigation they did not initiate. View "John v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiff and Defendants entered into a business relationship embodied in a series of oral and written agreements. Two of the written agreements contained clauses subjecting disputes arising out of the agreements to the sole jurisdiction of Florida courts. Plaintiff later brought this action for breach of contract, fraud, and related causes of action. Citing the two Florida forum selection clauses, Defendants moved to dismiss the action on grounds of forum non conveniens. The trial court granted the motion. Defendants then moved to recover $84,640 in attorney fees incurred in connection with the motion to dismiss, relying on an attorney fee clause in the agreements. The trial court denied the motion, ruling that Defendants were not the prevailing party for purposes of Cal. Civ. Code 1717 because the merits of the contract issues were still under litigation. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court acted within its discretion in denying Defendants’ motion for attorney fees because Defendants’ success in moving the litigation to Florida did not make them the prevailing party as a matter of law under section 1717. View "DisputeSuite.com, LLC v. Scoreinc.com" on Justia Law