February 21, 2014

Summary of February 19, 2014 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, February 19, 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.

Review Granted

Parker v. State of California, S215265—Review Granted—February 19, 2014

The State of California’s petition for review presents the following issues: (1) Did the Court of Appeal err by finding statutes regulating handgun ammunition unconstitutional in a pre-enforcement facial challenge? (2) What is the proper standard of review in a pre-enforcement facial vagueness challenge to a criminal statute regulating the sale of ammunition? (3) Must a statute use an objective standard for measuring compliance to satisfy constitutional vagueness principles?

In 2009, the Legislature passed legislation regulating the commercial sale, display, and transfer of handgun ammunition. The legislation requires that handgun ammunition be sold face-to-face, that identification (including a thumbprint from the buyer) be provided at the time of purchase, and that the seller maintain records of handgun ammunition sales.

Respondents filed suit for injunctive relief, claiming that they could not tell what calibers of ammunition were “principally for use” in a handgun as indicated by the statute. In an opinion certified for publication, Parker v. State of California (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 340, the Fifth District Court of Appeal agreed, declaring the statutes unconstitutionally vague.

Martinez v. Joe’s Crab Shack Holdings, S214864—Review Granted and Held—February 19, 2014

The case presents the following issue: Whether the Court of Appeal erred in concluding that individual issues of proof should not bar class certification of overtime pay claims of a class of managerial employees.

Current and former employees of different Joe’s Crab Shack restaurants sought to represent a class of salaried managerial employees, claiming they had been misclassified as exempt employees and were entitled to overtime pay. The trial court denied class certification on the grounds that the plaintiffs had failed to establish (i) their claims were typical of the class, (ii) they could adequately represent the class, or (iii) common questions predominate among the class claims such that a class action is the superior means of resolving the litigation. In a published opinion, Martinez v. Joe’s Crab Shack Holdings (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 1148, the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Seven, reversed and remanded.

The Supreme Court granted review but deferred further action pending its consideration and disposition of a related issue in Duran v. U.S. Bank National Assn. (S200923). Duran presents issues concerning the certification of class actions in wage and hour misclassification litigation and the use of representative testimony and statistical evidence at trial of such a class action.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)




Supplemental Briefing Requested

Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Company, S199119—Supplemental Briefing Requested—February 19, 2014

The case presents the following issue: Does the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. § 2), as interpreted in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) 563 U. S. 4, 179 L.Ed.2d 742 [131 S.Ct. 1740], preempt state law rules invalidating mandatory arbitration provisions in a consumer contract as procedurally and substantively unconscionable?

The Supreme Court requested supplemental briefing on which standard the Court should use for determining whether a contract or contract term is substantively unconscionable.  The Court has used a variety of terms, including “unreasonably favorable” to one party (Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc. v. Moreno (2013) 57 Cal.4th 1109, 1145); “so one-sided as to shock the conscience” (Pinnacle Museum Tower Assn. v. Pinnacle Market Development (2012) 55 Cal.4th 223, 246); “unfairly one-sided” (Little v. Auto Stiegler, Inc. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 1064, 1071-1072; “overly harsh” (Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychare Services, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 83, 114; and “unduly oppressive” (Perdue v. Crocker National Bank (1985) 38 Cal.3d 913, 925).  In light of these variations, the Court has asked the parties, interested persons, and entities for briefing on the following questions: (1) Should the Court only use one formulation, and if so, which one? (2) Are there any terms that the Court should not use?  (3) Is there another formulation that the Court should use?  (4) What differences, if any, exist among these formulations, either facially or as applied?

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