April 14, 2017

Summary of April 12, 2017 conference report for civil cases

Summary of April 12, 2017 conference report for civil cases

The following is our summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s conference on April 12, 2017. 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.

Review Granted

Cal Fire Local 2881 v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System, S239958 – Review Granted – April 12, 2017

In a published decision, Cal Fire Local 2881 v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System (2016) 7 Cal.App.5th 115, the Court of Appeal, First District, Division Three, affirmed the judgment in an action for writ of administrative mandate.  Plaintiff firefighters had sought to compel defendant’s compliance with Government Code section 20909 (section 20909), a law that provides eligible public employees the option to purchase at cost up to five years of nonqualifying service credit (sometimes referred to as “airtime”).

This case presents the following issues: (1) Was the option to purchase additional “airtime service credits” pursuant to section 20909 a vested pension benefit of public employees enrolled in CalPERS?  (2) If so, did the Legislature’s withdrawal of this right through the enactment of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) (Gov. Code, §§ 7522.46, 20909, subd. (g)), violate the contracts clauses of the federal and state Constitutions?

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Rivera v. Foster Farms, S239737 – Review Denied (with dissenting justices) – April 12, 2017

Plaintiff and her husband sued defendant Foster Farms asserting that plaintiff’s bacterial infection, and thus her injuries from Guillain-Barré syndrome, were attributable to Foster Farms chicken she ate.  Following trial, the 11-member jury returned a special verdict finding by eight to three that defendant’s chicken was not the cause of plaintiff’s bacterial infection.

In an unpublished opinion, Rivera v. Foster Farms (Dec. 19, 2016, B264137) 2016 WL 7340021 [nonpub. opn.], the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five, held that the trial court’s jury selection process did not deviate from proper procedure and that several jurors did not engage in misconduct warranting reversal.  The court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of (1) Salmonella contamination in defendant’s facilities, and (2) inspection reports citing defendant for noncompliance with federal agricultural standards governing chicken processing, and that, in any event, the exclusion of this evidence was not prejudicial.

Justices Werdegar and Chin were of the opinion the petition should be granted.



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