March 17, 2011

Summary of March 16, 2011 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, March 16, 2011. 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, (3) the Court has ordered depublished an opinion of the Court of Appeal, or (4) the Court has denied a Court of Appeal’s publication request.

Review Granted


Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Lujano v. County of Santa Barbara, S189731—Review Denied [Kennard and Werdegar, JJ. voting for review].

This was an action by a juvenile arrestee, through her guardian ad litem, against a county and two sheriff’s deputies under state law and 42 U.S.C. section 1983 for false arrest, battery, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, excessive force, and “acts or omissions of public employees.” The question presented was whether the plaintiff’s acceptance of informal juvenile probation arising from her arrest constitutes a “favorable termination” for purposes of seeking civil damages under section 1983 based upon the alleged use of excessive force by police during her arrest.

The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Six, held in a published decision Lujano v. County of Santa Barbara (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 801, that the plaintiff’s acceptance of informal probation does not constitute a “favorable termination” for purposes of seeking civil damages under section 1983.

Home Depot U.S.A. v. S.C. (Harris), S190270—Review Denied [Baxter, J. voting for review].

This was an action against an employer under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), Labor Code section 2698, et seq., alleging that lack of suitable employee seating violated a wage order (Wage Order 7-2001) of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). The questions presented for review were: (1) whether the employer’s alleged failure to comply with the seating requirement was not unlawful under Labor Code section 1198 because the seating requirement is expressed in affirmative rather than prohibitory terms; and (2) whether the application of default penalties provided in Labor Code section 2699, in addition to penalties imposed pursuant to the wage order, constitutes an excessive or improper penalty.

The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Four, held in a published decision, Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Superior Court (2010) 191 Cal.App.4th 210, that the seating requirement, though framed as an affirmative standard of reasonable conduct, clearly prohibits employers from failing to provide suitable seating to employees under the conditions specified in the wage order. The Court of Appeal further held that default remedy penalties, viewed as supplements to wage order penalties, are not excessive or improper.

As reflected here, this is the second time in a month that the Court has denied review in a case involving the IWC’s suitable seating requirements. Justice Marvin Baxter dissented from the denial of review on that occasion as well.



Court of Appeal Publication Request Denied


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