The following is our summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s conference on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. 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.
Leider v. Lewis, S232622—Review Granted—April 27, 2016
The Supreme Court limited review to the following issues: (1) Does Civil Code section 3369 bar taxpayer actions brought under the authority of Code of Civil Procedure section 526a seeking to enjoin violations of Penal Code provisions concerning animal abuse? (2) Does the law of the case doctrine foreclose petitioners’ reliance upon that legal argument in this appeal?
The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Eight, held in a published decision, Leider v. Lewis (2016) 243 Cal.App.4th 1078, that (1) the prior Court of Appeal decision was law of the case as to the argument that a taxpayer was precluded from obtaining injunctive relief for conduct that violated the Penal Code; (2) refusing to apply a statute prohibiting issuance of injunction to enforce penal law would not create substantial injustice; (3) an order to rototill soil and to make sure elephants received exercise was proper; (4) substantial evidence supported findings that conditions at exhibit did not amount to abuse or cruelty as defined by animal cruelty provisions of Penal Code; (5) trial court properly denied relief under statute making failure to care for animals a misdemeanor; and (6) reversal in favor of taxpayer was not compelled under injury prong element of statute governing actions against officers for injury to public property.
Perry v. Bakewell Hawthorne, S233096—Review Granted—April 27, 2016
The Supreme Court limited review to the following issue: Does Code of Civil Procedure section 2034.300, which requires a trial court to exclude the expert opinion of any witness offered by a party who has unreasonably failed to comply with the rules for exchange of expert witness information, apply to a motion for summary judgment?
The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Two, held in a partially published decision, Perry v. Bakewell Hawthorne (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 712, that (1) a premises owner, who participated in an exchange of expert witness information with the premises occupant, had standing to object to a visitor’s expert declarations in personal injury action, even if the occupant, rather than the owner, served the demand, and (2) the visitor unreasonably failed to disclose his expert witnesses such that trial court could exclude the visitor’s expert declarations.
Ryan v. Rosenfeld, S232582—Review Granted—April 27, 2016
The Supreme Court limited review to the following issue: Is the denial of a motion to vacate a judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 663 separately appealable?
The Court of Appeal, First District, Division Four dismissed the appeal (A145465; nonpublished order). The court held the pro per plaintiff had failed to file a timely notice of appeal from the judgment of dismissal. It further held that the plaintiff’s appeal from the denial of his motion to vacate the judgment was an appeal from a non-appealable order. It reasoned that “[t]o permit an appeal from an order denying a motion to vacate would effectively authorize two appeals from the same decision.”
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton v. J-M Manufacturing, S232946—Review Granted—April 27, 2016
This case presents the following issues: (1) May a court rely on non-legislative expressions of public policy to overturn an arbitration award on illegality grounds? (2) Can a sophisticated consumer of legal services, represented by counsel, give its informed consent to an advance waiver of conflicts of interest? (3) Does a conflict of interest that undisputedly caused no damage to the client and did not affect the value or quality of an attorney’s work automatically (i) require the attorney to disgorge all previously paid fees, and (ii) preclude the attorney from recovering the reasonable value of the unpaid work?
The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Four, held in a published decision, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP v. J-M Manufacturing (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 590, that (1) the question of enforceability of the parties’ agreement was for the court, rather than an arbitrator, to decide; (2) the attorneys in question violated the rules of professional conduct by representing a client while also representing an adverse party in prior litigation in unrelated matters; (3) the attorneys’ violation of the rules of professional conduct rendered the parties’ agreement unenforceable; and (4) the attorneys’ violation of the rules of professional conduct precluded attorneys from collecting attorney fees from client for work done while actual conflict existed.
Review Denied (with dissenting justices)
Seacrist v. Southern California Edison Co., S233332—Depublished Court of Appeal Opinion—April 27, 2016
The Court ordered depublished the opinion, filed January 27, 2016, which appears at 244 Cal.App.4th 308.
The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Two, held in Seacrist v. Southern California Edison Company (2016) 197 Cal.Rptr.3d 834, that: (1) homeowners were not bound by the theory that the trial court’s jurisdiction was based upon the defendant electric company’s violation of rule prohibiting utilities from using ground or earth as a normal neutral to return electricity along the circuit; (2) the trial court had authority to decide whether the electric company was negligent; (3) the trial court had authority to determine nuisance, trespass, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims; and (4) the trial court had authority to determine products liability, breach of implied warranty of fitness, and ultra-hazardous activity claims.