April 10, 2017

Hospital whistleblower can find out quickly that she has no jury trial right

In Shaw v. Superior Court, the Supreme Court today has good news and bad news for a plaintiff in a statutory hospital whistleblower suit.  On the one hand, she need not wait until the end of her case to complain about the superior court’s denial of a jury trial; she can have immediate appellate review of that claim by a petition for writ of mandate.  On the other hand, she’s not going to like the prompt response to her complaint — she has no statutory or state constitutional right to a jury trial.  The court’s unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye does say, however, that the whistleblower statute “fully preserves a plaintiff’s right to obtain a jury trial in the related tort cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy authorized under Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (1980) 27 Cal.3d 167,” and that the remedies for a Tameny cause of action are not limited to the remedies under the whistleblower statute.

The court affirms (on the appellate procedural issue) and reverses (on the jury trial issue) the Second District, Division Three, Court of Appeal.  On the procedural issue, the court overrules four of its old opinions, the newest of which was issued in 1931.

Leave a Reply