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, April 1, 2015. 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.
McGill v. Citibank, S224086—Review Granted—April 1, 2015
This case presents the following issue: Does the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.), as interpreted in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) 563 U.S. 321, preempt the California rule (Broughton v. Cigna Healthplans (1999) 21 Cal.4th 1066; Cruz v. PacifiCare Health Systems, Inc. (2003) 30 Cal.4th 303) that statutory claims for public injunctive relief are not subject to compulsory private arbitration?
In McGill, the plaintiff sued defendant Citibank for claims against the marketing and administration of the company’s “Credit Protector” plan, which in exchange for a monthly premium, deferred or credited the customer’s credit card account when qualifying events occurred (including long-term disability, unemployment, and hospitalization). When plaintiff opened her account with defendant, their agreement did not include an arbitration provision; however, defendant later sent plaintiff notice of the inclusion of an arbitration provision, providing her with a deadline to opt out. Plaintiff did not opt out of the arbitration provision.
When plaintiff brought her class action in the trial court, defendant filed a petition to compel her to arbitrate her claim on an individual basis, per the arbitration provision in their agreement. The trial court refused to order arbitration of plaintiff’s injunctive relief claims. Defendant appealed.
The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three, reversed in a published opinion, McGill v. Citibank, N.A. (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 753, and remanded for the trial court to order all of plaintiff’s claims to arbitration. It relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Concepcion, which found that the FAA preempts all state-law rules, including the Broughton-Cruz rule, that prohibit arbitration of a particular type of claim.
Rivers v. Cedar-Sinai Medical Care Foundation, S224592—Review Granted and Held—April 1, 2015
The court ordered briefing deferred pending decision in Sandquist v. Lebo Automotive, Inc., S220812, which presents the following issue: Does the trial court or the arbitrator decide whether an arbitration agreement provides for class arbitration if the agreement itself is silent on the issue?
In Rivers, the plaintiff brought a class action and individual claims against her employer, defendant Cedar-Sinai Medical Care Foundation. When she was hired, plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement requiring both parties to arbitrate claims regarding plaintiff’s employment or termination. However, the agreement did not mention an arbitration requirement for class action claims. When plaintiff filed her claims, defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court interpreted the agreement, determining that the parties intended to arbitrate individual claims but not class claims.
The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Seven, reversed in an unpublished opinion, Rivers v. Cedar-Sinai Medical Care Foundation (Jan. 13, 2015, B249979), ruling the decision of whether the parties agreed to class arbitration was a procedural issue to be determined by the arbitrator, not by the court.
Review Denied (with dissenting justices)
Los Angeles Police Protective League v. City of Los Angeles, S224083—Depublished Court of Appeal Opinion—April 1, 2015
The issue in this case was whether plaintiffs had taxpayer standing under Code of Civil Procedure section 526a to challenge the Los Angeles Police Department’s special order regarding impounding vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers. The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Eight, held the special order was not preempted because it neither created new law nor conflicted with existing law. But because the order implemented existing law, the expenditure of public funds to enforce it was a matter within the wide discretion of city officials. Thus, plaintiffs lacked taxpayer standing to challenge the special order. (Los Angeles Police Protective League v. City of Los Angeles (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 907.)