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, July 23, 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.
DKN Holdings v. Faerber, S218597—Review Granted, Issues Limited—July 23, 2014
The lessor of a commercial property brought an action against three co-leasees for past due rents. The lessor dismissed without prejudice two of the parties and received a $3 million judgment against the third party which remains unsatisfied. The lease specified all lessees were “jointly and severally responsible.” The lessor then brought the present action against the other two lessees for the unpaid rent. The trial court sustained the two lessees’ demurrers without leave to amend.
In a published opinion, DKN Holdings LLC v. Faerber (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 1115, the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Two, affirmed. It held “the complaint does not and cannot state a cause of action against [the lessees] for monies due under the lease, because [the lessor’s] claims against [the lessees] in the present action are barred by the claim preclusion aspect of the res judicata doctrine.”
In granting review the Supreme Court limited the issues to the following: (1) Whether parties that are jointly and severally liable on an obligation can be sued in separate actions, and (2) whether the opinion of the Court of Appeal conflicts with the opinion of this court in Williams v. Reed (1957) 48 Cal.2d 57.
People v. Safety National Casualty Insurance Co., S218712—Review Granted—July 23, 2014
Safety National Casualty Company executed a bail bond on behalf of Eshaddai Bent in the amount of $25,000. When Bent failed to personally appear at a pretrial conference, the trial court ordered the bail amount forfeited. Safety National moved to vacate the forfeiture, and the trial court denied that motion.
In a published opinion, People v. Safety National Casualty Insurance Co. (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 438, the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Eight, reversed, ordering the trial court to vacate the bond forfeiture. The Court of Appeal held: (1) the statement “bail will stand” did not equate to an order for the defendant to appear at the next hearing; (2) the conference in question was not a “readiness” conference which requires the defendant’s presence under California Rules of Court, Rule 4.112; and (3) case law did not require the defendant’s presence under Penal Code section 977. With the defendant not being required to attend by law or by court order, the Court of Appeal determined the order forfeiting the bond amount was improper, and should be vacated.
The questions presented are whether the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the bond amount forfeited, or whether the forfeiture was proper in light of the defendant’s absence at the pretrial conference.
deSaulles v. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, S219236—Review Granted—July 23, 2014
Plaintiff, an employee of the defendant hospital, brought suit alleging seven causes of action. The parties entered a settlement agreement where the defendant paid $23,500 in exchange for dismissal with prejudice of two of plaintiff’s claims. As to her remaining causes of action, the trial court granted summary adjudication in favor of defendant as to one, and then ruled in defendant’s favor on the remainder. After entry of judgment, both parties moved for costs as the “prevailing party” under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032. The trial court ruled the defendant was the prevailing party, granting its motion for $12,731.92 in costs, and denying the plaintiff’s motion.
In a published opinion, deSaulles v. Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 1427, the Sixth District Court of Appeal reversed, holding that “since the parties’ settlement was silent regarding costs, [the defendant’s] payment of $23,500 triggered mandatory costs as a ‘net monetary recovery’ under the plain language of the statute.”
The question presented is whether an award of costs to either party as the “prevailing party” was proper, given the settlement award to plaintiff despite judgment in favor of defendant on all the remaining claims.
Review Denied (with dissenting justices)
Imburgia v. DIRECTV, S218686—Review Denied [Baxter, J., voting for review]—July 23, 2014
The plaintiff filed a class action against DIRECTV on a variety of grounds, alleging DIRECTV was improperly charging its customers early termination fees. DIRECTV moved to stay or dismiss the action, decertify the class, and compel arbitration based on the arbitration provision in its consumer agreement. The trial court denied DIRECTV’s motion.
In a published opinion, Imburgia v. DIRECTV, Inc. (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 338, the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division One, affirmed the trial court’s ruling holding that “the parties’ entire arbitration agreement is unenforceable, pursuant to the agreement’s express terms, because the law of plaintiffs’ state would find the class action waiver unenforceable.”
The question presented was whether the motion to compel arbitration was properly denied based on the parties’ contract and prevailing law.