The following is a summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s conference on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The summary includes those civil cases in which (1) review has been granted, (2) review has been denied but one or more justices has voted for review, or (3) the Court has ordered depublished an opinion of the Court of Appeal.
Association of California Ins. Companies v. Jones, S226529—Review Granted—July 15, 2015
This case presents the following issues: (1) Does the Unfair Insurance Practices Act (Ins. Code, § 790, et seq.) give the Insurance Commissioner authority to promulgate a regulation that sets forth requirements for communicating replacement value and states that noncompliance with the regulation constitutes a misleading statement, and therefore an unfair trade practice, for purposes of the act? (2) Does the Insurance Commissioner have the statutory authority to promulgate a regulation specifying that the communication of a replacement cost estimate that omits one or more of the components in subdivisions (a)-(e) of section 2695.183 of title 10 of the California Code of Regulations is a “misleading” statement with respect to the business of insurance? The court specifically directed the parties to brief the second issue.
The Insurance Commissioner promulgated a regulation under the authority of the Unfair Insurance Practices Act (UIPA), Insurance Code sections 790-790.15 that controls the way property insurers communicate replacement cost information to homeowners. The Association of California Insurance Companies and the Personal Insurance Federation of California brought an action challenging the validity of the regulation. The trial court granted a declaratory judgment that the Commissioner did not have the authority to issue the regulation and the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division One, affirmed in a published opinion, Association of California Insurance Companies et al. v. Jones (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 1009. The court reasoned that (1) the UIPA, read as a whole, did not give the Commissioner authority to promulgate the regulation, (2) the Commissioner’s reliance on section 790.10 did not sufficiently credit other portions of the UIPA and was not consistent with the structure of the UIPA, and (3) the legislative evolution of the UIPA as well as other sections in the Insurance Code supported the conclusion that the Commissioner was without authority to promulgate the regulation.
Flethez v. San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association, S226779—Review Granted—July 15, 2015
This case includes the following issue: If a retroactive award of service-connected disability retirement benefits is made in an administrative mandate proceeding, is prejudgment interest under Code of Civil Procedure section 3287 calculated from the day after the employee’s last day of regular compensation or the day on which the employee submitted the claim for the benefits?
Plaintiff, a former county employee, petitioned for writ of mandamus seeking retroactive disability retirement. The trial court granted the petition and awarded prejudgment interest from the time of the employee’s last day of regular compensation. In a published opinion, Flethez v. San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association (2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 65, the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division One, reversed, holding that a retiring member is entitled to recover prejudgment interest from the day on which his or her right to recover those benefit payments became vested, i.e. after filing an application for disability retirement benefits and proving entitlement thereto.
Boyce v. T.D. Service Co., S226267—Review Granted & Held—July 15, 2015
The court ordered briefing deferred pending decision in Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corp., S218973, which presents the following issue: In an action for wrongful foreclosure on a deed of trust securing a home loan, does the borrower have standing to challenge an assignment of the note and deed of trust on the basis of defects allegedly rendering the assignment void?
A $1.155 million promissory note, secured by a deed of trust on the house of appellant and his wife, was transferred to Wells Fargo Bank. Appellant then made payments for three and a half years, but stopped making payments and later filed for bankruptcy. Wells Fargo subsequently purchased the property and brought an unlawful detainer action to evict appellant. The bankruptcy judge allowed the foreclosure to go forward and rejected appellant’s theory of “wrongful foreclosure.” Thereafter, appellant sued everyone involved with the loan. The trial court sustained demurrers based on res judicata principles and the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Six, affirmed in a published decision, Boyce v. T.D. Service Company (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 429. The court held that the borrower lacked standing to challenge foreclosure on the basis that purported assignments of the note and deed of trust had been made after the mortgage investment pools closed, since the assignments did not change the borrower’s obligations on the note.
Review Denied (with dissenting justices)
Glassner v. Smith, S227057—Review Denied [Werdegar, J., voting for review]—July 15, 2015
The issue was whether the trial court erred in granting motions to strike — under the anti-SLAPP statute, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 — as to one defendant but not as to the remaining defendants.
Plaintiff, a homeowners’ association board member, sued for defamation concerning statements made about him on a website and at a board meeting during a dispute between association members. Defendants moved to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court granted the motion as to one defendant, but otherwise denied the motion. In an unpublished opinion, Glassner v. Smith (2015, A140876), the Court of Appeal, First District, Division One, ruled for all the defendants. The court reasoned that plaintiff failed to show a probability of prevailing on his defamation claims.