July 12, 2012

Summary of July 11, 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, July 11, 2012. 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

McWilliams v. City of Long Beach, S202037—Review Granted—July 11, 2012

This is a class action challenging a city’s telephone users tax (TUT). The questions presented are: (1) whether the city is authorized under the Government Claims Act to establish its own claims procedure for TUT refunds; and (2) whether the plaintiff is entitled to present a claim on behalf of an entire class, or whether each member of the purported class is required to file an individual claim prior to suit.

The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three, held in an unpublished decision, McWilliams v. City of Long Beach, 2012 WL 1036029, that (1) the city’s municipal code section establishing the TUT refund procedure does not fall within Government Code section 905’s exception to claim requirements because the municipal code section is not a “statute” within the meaning of section 905; and (2) under Ardon v. City of Los Angeles (2011) 52 Cal.4th 241, the plaintiff is entitled to bring a class action challenging the TUT refund procedure.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Cole v. Town of Los Gatos, S202785—Review and depublication requests denied [Kennard, J., voting for review]—July 11, 2012

This is a personal injury action against a motorist and a town following an accident that occurred on the town’s property. The questions presented were: (1) whether the town showed, as a matter of law, that a dangerous condition did not exist on public land; and (2) whether, in cases of public entity liability, there must be a causal relationship between a defect in the physical condition of the property and the third party conduct that actually injures the plaintiff.

The Court of Appeal, Sixth District, held in a published opinion, Cole v. Town of Los Gatos (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 749, that: (1) the town failed to fulfill its burden in showing that the plaintiff could not establish a dangerous condition on public property; and (2) in cases of public liability, a defect in the physical condition of property does not need to have a causal relationship with a third party’s conduct that actually injures the plaintiff; public entity liability occurs when a feature of the public property has increased or intensified the danger to users from third party conduct.



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