December 2, 2013

A supremely minor issue

When a minor is a party to a case that settles, “the court in which the action or proceeding is pending” must approve the settlement.  If a settlement is reached while the case is pending in the Court of Appeal, a rule — rule 8.244(d) — allows that court to first “direct the trial court to determine whether the compromise is in the minor’s . . . best interests and to report its findings.”

What happens if the parties need approval of a minor’s compromise when the case is pending in the Supreme Court after that court has granted review?  No rule specifies the procedure.  However, the issue arose recently in such a case — American States Insurance Company v. Ramirez [disclosure:  Horvitz & Levy represents American States] — and the court, at the parties’ joint request, borrowed the rule applicable to the Court of Appeal.  The Supreme Court directed the superior court “to consider whether the compromise reached by the parties in this matter is in the minor’s best interests” and to report back within 49 days.  (No, we don’t know why the court picked 49 days as the deadline.)  The court also stayed further action in the matter before it.

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