January 23, 2012

Summary of January 18, 2012 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, January 18, 2012. 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, we note that the Court has decided to grant review in three cases concerning the regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries, as discussed here and here.

Review Granted

Zelasko-Barrett v. Brayton-Purcell, S198438 – Review Granted and Held– January 18, 2012.

This is an action by a former law clerk against his law firm employer, alleging a failure to pay overtime wages and other benefits. The Court of Appeal, First District, Division Three, reversed an order awarding attorney fees to the prevailing defendant/employer. The Supreme Court ordered briefing deferred pending the decision in Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc., S185827, which presents the following issues for review: “(1) Does Labor Code section 1194 apply to a cause of action alleging meal and rest period violations, or may attorney’s fees be awarded under Labor Code section 218.5? (2) Is our analysis affected by whether the claims for meal and rest periods are brought alone or are accompanied by claims for minimum wage and overtime?” As we discussed here, this is not the first case to have been granted and held pending the outcome in Kirby.

City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center, S198638 – Review Granted – January 18, 2012.

This is an action by a city against a medical marijuana dispensary operator for public nuisance, seeking injunctive relief. The question presented is whether local ordinances regulating or banning the operation of such dispensaries are preempted under state law. The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Two, held a city ordinance banning such dispensaries is not preempted by the Compassionate Use Act (Health & Safety Code, § 11362.5) or the Medical Marijuana Program (Health & Safety Code, §§ 11362.7–11362.83).

Traudt v. City of Dana Point, S197700 – Review Granted – January 18, 2012.

This is an action by a medical marijuana patient against a city for a declaratory judgment that city zoning ordinances banning medical marijuana dispensaries are preempted by state law. The question presented concerns a plaintiff’s standing to challenge such an ordinance. The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three, held that an individual medical marijuana patient does not have standing to challenge the alleged infringement of a right belonging to the group as a whole.

Pack v. Superior Court (City of Long Beach), S197169 – Review Granted – January 18, 2012.

This is an action by members of a medical marijuana collective against a city for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging an ordinance prohibiting “cultivation, possession, distribution, exchange or giving away” of medical marijuana except pursuant to a permit. The question presented is whether the city’s ordinance, which permits and regulates medical marijuana collectives rather than merely decriminalizing specific acts, is preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. section 812, 841(a)(1), 844 (CSA). The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three, held the city ordinance in question is, in part, preempted by the CSA. Check out this article for additional information about this case.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

None.

Depublished

Yuin University v. Korean Broadcasting System, S197947 – Depublished Court of Appeal Opinion – January 18, 2012.

This was an action by a university against a Korean television network for libel, based on the broadcasting company’s characterization of the university as “vacant,” a “ghost school” and a “degree factory.” The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Eight, held in a published decision, Yuin University v. Korean Broadcasting System (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 1098, that while the broadcast may have cast doubts on the university’s legitimacy, the statements were not actionable when considered in context.

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