August 14, 2011

Summary of August 10, 2011 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 Wednesday, August 10, 2011. The summary includes those civil cases in which (1) review has been granted (not including grant-and-transfers), (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. This week the Court has also granted a request by the Ninth Circuit to answer a certified legal question pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.548.

Review Granted

Ceja v. Rudolph & Sletten, Inc., S193493—Review Granted—August 10, 2011

The question presented is whether a person’s good faith belief in the validity of a marriage is measured by an objective or subjective standard for the purpose of determining the person’s status as a putative spouse under Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60. The Court of Appeal, Sixth District, held in a published opinion, Ceja v. Rudolph & Sletten, Inc. (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 584, that the belief in the validity of a marriage need not be objectively reasonable to confer putative spouse status.

People ex rel. Harris v. Pac Anchor Transportation, S193997—Review Granted—August 10, 2011

The question presented is whether an action by the state against a trucking company under the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.) for alleged violations of state labor and insurance laws is “related to the price, route, or service” of the company and, therefore, preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (49 U.S.C. § 14501). The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five, held in a published opinion, People ex rel. Harris v. Pac Anchor Transp., Inc. (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 765, that the action did not relate to “a price, route, or service” and thus was not preempted by federal law.

Dicampli-Mintz v. County of Santa Clara, S194501—Review Granted—August 10, 2011

The question presented is whether the plaintiff in a medical negligence action against a county substantially complied with the statutory requirement that her government tort claim be presented “to the clerk, secretary or auditor thereof” or mailed to “the governing body” (Gov. Code, § 915, subd. (a)) when she delivered the claim to the risk management department of the county hospital where the alleged injury occurred. The Court of Appeal, Sixth District, held in a published opinion, DiCampli-Mintz v. County of Santa Clara (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 1327, that the plaintiff substantially complied with the Government Code’s notice requirements.

Diaz v. Bukey, S194150—Review Granted & Held—August 10, 2011

In this action by a family trust beneficiary to remove a trustee, the question presented is whether the beneficiary of a family trust is bound by an arbitration provision contained in the trust where the beneficiary is not a party to any agreement that disputes be resolved by arbitration. The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Six, held in a published opinion, Diaz v. Bukey (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 315, that the trust beneficiary was not bound by the arbitration provision. The Supreme Court has ordered briefing deferred pending its decision in Pinnacle Museum Tower Assn. v. Pinnacle Market Development (US), LLC, S186149, which includes the following issue: Is a homeowners association bound by an arbitration provision contained in the covenants, conditions and restrictions for a common interest development that were executed and recorded prior to the time the association came into existence?

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Digerati Holdings v. Young Money Entertainment, S193654—Review Denied [Kennard & Werdegar, JJ., voting for review]—August 10, 2011

This is an action by a musician against a film production company for breach of contract and other counts relating to the production of a documentary about the musician. The question presented was whether the trial court erred in granting the film production company’s anti-SLAPP motion (Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16) with respect to the musician’s breach of implied covenant claim but not the breach of contract claim. The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three, affirmed, holding in a published opinion, Digerati Holdings, LLC v. Young Money Entertainment, LLC (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 873, that (1) the breach of contract claim did not arise from protected activity; (2) the breach of implied covenant claim did arise from protected activity; and (3) warnings to film distributors not to acquire rights to a documentary were covered by the litigation privilege.

Regents of the University of California v. Khoury, S193530—Review Denied [Kennard, J., voting for review]—August 10, 2011

This is an action by the Regents of the University of California against a faculty member for damages for allegedly violating written university policies by receiving outside income while on sabbatical. The question presented was whether the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the faculty member under the exhaustion of remedies doctrine. The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Two, reversed in an unpublished opinion, Regents of University of California v. Khoury, 2011 WL 1478964. The Court of Appeal held the applicable doctrine was not exhaustion of remedies but primary jurisdiction. The trial court was required to stay the case until the university obtained a final determination by its internal committee that the faculty member did improperly receive outside income.

Depublished

None.

Action on Ninth Circuit’s Certification of Question of State Law

Hayes v. County of San Diego, S193997—Question of State Law Request Granted—August 10, 2011

This is an action by the minor daughter of a suspect fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies, alleging, inter alia, a state law negligence claim based in part on the deputies’ preshooting conduct. Pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.548, the Ninth Circuit requested that the California Supreme Court decide whether, under California negligence law, sheriff’s deputies owe a duty of care to a suicidal person when preparing, approaching, and performing a welfare check on him. Granting the Ninth Circuit’s request, the Supreme Court restated the question as follows: Whether under California negligence law, liability can arise from tactical conduct and decisions employed by law enforcement preceding the use of deadly force. We previously discussed Hayes here and here.

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