October 17, 2014
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, October 15, 2014. 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.
People v. Superior Court (Cahuenga’s The Spot), S220677—Review Granted and Transferred—October 15, 2014
This case presents the following two issues: (1) Are civil penalties like damages that must be “proved” by a plaintiff in order to obtain summary adjudication on public nuisance and unfair competition causes of action? (2) Must civil penalties be “proved” in order for summary judgment to be granted to the plaintiff, or may they be determined post-summary judgment at the time the attorneys’ fees and costs are determined?
In an attempt to control the proliferation of medical marijuana shops, the City of Los Angeles filed suit against such establishments and the property owners renting to them. The City alleged causes of action for public nuisance, unfair competition, and violations of the Narcotics Abatement Law, and ultimately moved for summary judgment or in the alternative summary adjudication of the issues. The trial court ruled that the motions were deficient because the City had not presented evidence of the amount of civil penalties for any cause of action and thus had failed to prove every element of its case.
The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five, summarily denied the City’s petition for a writ of mandate. The court’s order stated, “Petitioner failed to document the amount of civil penalties owed under any of its causes of action. Further, petitioner has likewise failed to document the amount of civil penalties and its summary adjudication motion did not dispose of an entire cause of action, as required by Code of Civil Procedure, section 437c, subdivision (f)(1). (DeCastro West Chodorow & Burns, Inc. v. Superior Court (1996) 47 Cal.App.4th 410, 422-423.)”
The Supreme Court granted review and transferred the matter to the Court of Appeal with directions to vacate its order denying mandate and to issue an order directing the Superior Court to show cause why the relief sought in the petition should not be granted.
Review Denied (with dissenting justices)
Children’s Hospital Central California v. Blue Cross of California, S220019—Review Denied [Chin, J. voting for review]—October 15, 2014
This case presented the following questions: (1) whether California Code of Regulations, title 28, section 1300.71, subdivision (a)(3)(B), provides the exclusive standard for valuing the reasonable value of post-stabilization emergency medical services provided by hospitals to Medi–Cal beneficiaries enrolled in Blue Cross’s Medi–Cal managed care plan; and (2) whether the trial court erred by instructing the jury to determine reasonable value of such services by considering only those factors.
The Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, held in a published opinion, Children’s Hospital Central California v. Blue Cross of California (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1260, that: (1) in enacting section 1300.71, subdivision (a)(3)(B), the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) established the minimum rather than exclusive criteria for reimbursement of a claim, noting that the DMHC intended that reasonable value be based on the concept of quantum meruit and that valuation disputes be resolved by the courts; and (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it was to decide the services’ “reasonable and customary value” based only on the six factors enumerated in section 1300.71, subdivision (a)(3)(B), because evidence of fees the hospital charged and accepted for comparable services was relevant to determining the “reasonable and customary” value of the services.
Sutter Health v. Superior Court (Atkins), S220887—Review Denied [Werdegar, J., voting for review]—October 15, 2014
The petition for review presented the following two issues: (1) Is Civil Code section 56.101 violated when a health care provider negligently loses possession of its patients’ sensitive medical information, by negligently failing to take adequate precautions to prevent their loss or theft? (2) If a violation of Civil Code section 56.101 has occurred, is a patient whose sensitive medical records have been lost or stolen without any remedy under the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) (Civ. Code, § 56 et seq.), unless the patient can allege and prove that an unauthorized party has viewed the medical records?
A thief stole a health care provider’s computer containing medical records of about four million patients. The plaintiffs filed an action under the CMIA, which protects the confidentiality of patients’ medical information and provides for an award of $1,000 in nominal damages to a patient if the health care provider negligently releases medical information or records in violation of the Act. The health care provider demurred to the complaint and moved to strike the class allegations. The trial court overruled the demurrer and denied the motion to strike.
The Court of Appeal, Third District, issued an alternative writ of mandate to review the trial court’s rulings and in a published opinion, Sutter Health v. Superior Court (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 1546, concluded that the plaintiffs failed to state a cause of action under the CMIA because they did not allege that the stolen medical information was actually viewed by an unauthorized person. The court then granted the health care provider’s petition for a writ of mandate and directed the trial court to sustain the health care provider’s demurrer without leave to amend and dismiss the action.
California High-Speed Rail Authority v. Superior Court (TOS), S220926—Review Denied [Baxter, J., voting for review]—October 15, 2014
This case presented the following issue, among others: Under Proposition 1A—the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act—may the Legislature appropriate bond proceeds based on a preliminary funding plan submitted by the California High-Speed Rail Authority despite alleged deficiencies in the plan?
In November 2008, the voters of California passed Prop 1A “to initiate the construction of a high-speed train system” in California. It authorizes the issuance and sale of $9.95 billion in general obligation bonds “upon appropriation by the Legislature” to begin construction of the system, and it creates a finance committee to authorize the issuance and sale of the bonds. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is the administrative body primarily responsible for overseeing the planning and construction of the system. The Act requires the Authority to prepare a preliminary funding plan before the Legislature appropriates the funds and a final funding plan before the proceeds of bonds are committed for expenditure.
Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the Authority’s preliminary funding plan violated the Act. They sought relief in the form of a writ of mandamus/prohibition. The trial court found that the preliminary funding plan was deficient but remained uncertain whether to issue a writ of mandate to compel the Authority to rescind it.
In a published opinion, California High-Speed Rail Authority v. Superior Court (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 676, the Court of Appeal, Third District, concluded that, contrary to the trial court’s determination, the finance committee properly found that issuance of the bonds was necessary or desirable. It also concluded that—because the Legislature appropriated bond proceeds after receiving the preliminary funding plan—the plan, despite any deficiencies, served its stated purpose of guiding the Legislature on the Authority’s appropriation request. The court therefore refused to issue a writ of mandamus to rescind and redo the preliminary funding plan.
This post was updated on October 24, 2014.