October 7, 2010

California Supreme Court oral argument videos from Fresno session now available online

As previously mentioned in this post, the special oral argument sessions in Fresno were televised. They’re now available online, and can make for an interesting diversion (say, hypothetically speaking, for a group of appellate lawyers having a lunch time gathering in the conference room). For example, one can view Tuesday’s oral argument in Pineda v. Bank of America. The case presents two questions for review: “(1) When a worker files an action to recover penalties for late payment of final wages under Labor Code section 203, but does not concurrently seek to recover any other unpaid wages, is the statute of limitations the one-year statute for penalties under Code of Civil Procedure section 340, subdivision (a), or the three-year statute for unpaid wages under Labor Code section 202? (2) Can penalties under Labor Code section 203 be recovered as restitution in an Unfair Competition Law action (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17203)?”

The lively argument saw the lawyer for the plaintiff contend that waiting time penalties under the Labor Code are not “punitive” in nature and are in fact a vested right in the same manner as earned but unpaid wages, and thus recoverable as “restitution” under the UCL’s remedial scheme. Some justices expressed skepticism that his argument could survive the Court’s recent holding in Clark v. Superior Court (2010) 50 Cal.4th 605, which held that restitution payments under the UCL cannot be equated with “penalties,” and are not subject to enhancement under a statute that allows for penalties to be trebled in certain types of cases, as discussed in this post. The whole argument was broadcast on the California Channel and can be viewed here.

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