March 23, 2012

Summary of March 21, 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, March 21, 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

Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Company, S199119—Review Granted—March 21, 2012

This is a class action filed by a car buyer against a car dealer, alleging violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), the Automobile Sales Finance Act (ASFA), the unfair competition law (UCL), the Song–Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and the California Tire Recycling Act (Tire Recycling Act). The dealer moved to compel arbitration pursuant to a provision in the sales contract, which also contained a class action waiver. The trial court denied the motion on the ground that the buyer was statutorily entitled to maintain the CLRA suit as a class action. The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division One, affirmed in a published opinion, Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Co., LLC (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 74.

The Supreme Court granted review. The question presented is whether the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. § 2), as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) 563 U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 1740, preempts state law rules invalidating mandatory arbitration provisions in consumer contracts as procedurally and substantively unconscionable.

Estate of Duke, S199435—Review Granted—March 21, 2012

Charities named as legatees in a will petitioned for probate and for letters of administration. The testator’s surviving relatives petitioned for a determination of entitlement to estate distribution. The trial court entered judgment for the relatives. The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Four, affirmed in a published opinion, In re Estate of Duke (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 559, holding extrinsic evidence of the testator’s intent was inadmissible. The question presented is whether the “four corners” rule in Estate of Barnes (1965) 63 Cal.2d 580, should be reconsidered so as to allow drafting errors in a will to be reformed consistent with clear and convincing extrinsic evidence of the decedent’s intent.

Bourhis v. Lord, S199887, S199889—Review Granted—March 21, 2012

The Court of Appeal, First District, Division Two, denied a motion to dismiss an appeal in a civil action. The question presented for review is whether an appeal can proceed if the appellant’s corporate status was suspended due to nonpayment of taxes when the notice of appeal was filed, but the corporation later revives that status after the time for filing a notice of appeal had expired.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)




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