June 15, 2012

Summary of June 13, 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, June 13, 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

Donkin v. Donkin, S202210—Review Granted—June 13, 2012

This case involves a trust dispute. The disputed trust contained a “no contest” clause disinheriting any beneficiary who challenged the trust, its provisions, or its asset distribution. The respondents filed a “safe harbor” petition pursuant to Probate Code section 21320 to determine if their challenge to the trustee’s administration of the trust would constitute a contest under the trust’s no contest provisions. The statute was repealed while the petition was pending.

The questions presented are: (1) whether the former no contest law, Probate Code section 21320, should apply based on the parties’ reliance on it; and (2) whether the safe harbor petition violated the trust’s no contest provisions.

The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division One, held in a published opinion, Donkin v. Donkin (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 622, that: (1) the former no contest law applied in this situation because Section 3 of the Probate code provides that the old law continues to apply to any paper filed or action taken before the operative date that was proper at the time the action was taken; and (2) the safe harbor petition violated the Trust’s no contest clause because the respondents’ challenges attacked the trust’s distributive scheme by requiring the trustees to exercise their discretion when they were not required to do so by the terms of the trust, as amended.

Mayers v. Volt Management Corp., S200709—Review Granted & Held—June 13, 2012

The plaintiff sued his former employer, alleging several claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The defendant employer moved to compel arbitration based on arbitration provisions in the employment contract. The trial court held the arbitration provisions were unconscionable and unenforceable. The Court of Appeal affirmed.

The question presented is whether the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. §2), as interpreted in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) 563 U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 1740, preempts state law rules invalidating mandatory arbitration provisions in a consumer contract as procedurally and substantively unconscionable. This question is also before the Court in Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Co., S199119.

In re Joey V., S201376—Review Granted & Held—June 13 2012

The question presented is whether Welfare and Institutions Code section 224.3, which requires tribal notification under the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. §§ 1901 et seq.) of a juvenile delinquency proceeding (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 602) when a juvenile is charged with an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult, is preempted because it expands jurisdiction to proceedings expressly excluded from the Act. This issue is also before the Court in In re W.B., S181638.

County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court, S201534—Review granted and transferred—June 13, 2012

This case concerns the Public Records Act’s exemption for “[r]ecords pertaining to pending litigation to which the public agency is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810), until the pending litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled.” (Gov. Code, § 6254, subd. (b).) The questions presented are: (1) whether the exemption applies to Public Records Act requests seeking billing and payment records for attorneys employed by public entities when such requests are made during the pendency of litigation; and (2) whether the exemption prevents the compromise of attorney-client and attorney work product protections prior to the final resolution of lawsuits involving public entities.

The Supreme Court transferred the matter back to the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Eight, with directions to vacate its order denying Los Angeles County’s petition for a writ of mandate, and to issue a new order directing the trial court and real party in interest to show cause why the relief sought in the petition should not be granted.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)




One Response to “Summary of June 13, 2012 conference report for civil cases”

  1. Sirs:

    Regarding the Donkin case, I am counsel for the petitioners Annemarie Donkin and Lisa Kim. As you stated, the Court of Appeal decision held that the former law applied to the section 21320 Application and to the entire case; it did not hold that the safe-harbor application itself violated the no-contest clause of the Trust, as you stated above, but that the underlying relief requested would. If you wish to discuss the case with me, please contact me at (818)883-0871 or at mhb@markhboykin.com.

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