January 22, 2014

Summary of January 21, 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 Tuesday, January 21, 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.  (The Court’s usual Wednesday conference was held on Tuesday this week because the Chief Justice and Justices Baxter, Liu, and Corrigan had to be in Sacramento on Wednesday for the Governor’s State of the State speech.)

Review Granted

Department of California Highway Patrol v. Superior Court (Alvarado),  S214221—Review Granted—January 21, 2014

The question presented is the legislative intent concerning the employment relationship, if any, between the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the CHP’s Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) tow truck drivers. Tow truck companies in the FSP program contract with county transportation authorities, and those transportation authorities, in turn, contract with the CHP, which certifies and supervises both the drivers and the truck companies.

The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three, held in a published opinion, State ex rel. Department of the California Highway Patrol v. Superior Court (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 612, that the CHP was not vicariously liable for the collision caused by a tow truck driver in the FSP program.  The court reasoned that the relevant statutes in the Streets and Highways Code and the Vehicle Code suggest that Legislature intended to distinguish between the people and companies employing tow truck drivers in the FSP program, on the one hand, and the CHP on the other. There was, therefore, no legislative intent to impose vicarious liability on the CHP as a special employer of FSP tow truck drivers.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)




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