May 17, 2012

Summary of May 16, 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, May 16, 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. This week we also note that the Court has ordered the Committee of Bar Examiners to show cause why an undocumented immigrant should be admitted to the State Bar.

Review Granted

Duran v. U.S. Bank National Association, S200923­—Review Granted­—May 16, 2012.

This is a wage and hour class action brought by a plaintiff class of 260 current and former “business banking officers” who allegedly were misclassified as outside sales personnel. The trial court entered judgment for the plaintiff class after a bench trial. The employer appealed.

The Court of Appeal, First District, Division One, reversed in a published decision, Duran v. U.S. Bank Nat. Assn. (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 212, holding the trial court abused its discretion when it denied the defendants’ motion to decertify the class. The court held the trial court violated the defendant’s due process rights by deciding class-wide liability based on evidence relating to a 10 percent sample of class members, particularly given the large margin of error in the sampling and the lack of randomness in the sample selection.

The questions presented are: (1) whether a defendant has a due process right to obtain an individual determination of its exemption defense for every class member; and (2) whether class-wide liability may be imposed based on statistical sampling or other forms of representative evidence.

City of Lake Forest v. Evergreen Holistic Collective, S201454 (Lead Case)—Review Granted—May 16, 2012.

City of Lake Forest v. Lake Forest Wellness Center, S201372—Review Granted and Held—May 16, 2012.

This is a pair of nuisance actions brought by a city against medical marijuana dispensaries, based on a citywide ban against such dispensaries. The trial court granted preliminary injunctions shutting down the dispensaries as a per se nuisance. The dispensaries appealed. In the lead case, the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three, held in a published opinion, City of Lake Forest v. Evergreen Holistic Collective (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 1413, that a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries conflicts with the Medical Marijuana Program Act (Health & Saf. Code, §§ 11362.7–11362.83).

The question presented is whether the Medical Marijuana Program Act requires a city to allow dispensaries to operate at sites where medical marijuana is “collectively or cooperatively . . . cultivate[d].” (Health & Saf. Code, § 11362.775). This article in the San Francisco Chronicle, and this article, discuss the case in more detail.

Western States Petroleum Association v. State Board of Equalization, S200475—Review Granted—May 16, 2012.

An association of petroleum producers brought this action against the State Board of Equalization for declaratory relief challenging valuation formulas applied to petroleum refineries. The trial court granted summary judgment for the association. The Board appealed. The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Eight, held in a published decision, Western States Petroleum Assn. v. State Bd. of Equalization (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1092, that when appraising industrial or manufacturing property for taxation purposes, the real property and fixtures must be assessed as separate units.

The question presented is whether the trial court’s holding improperly constrains the Board’s ability to perform its constitutional and statutory duties to guide county assessors on appropriate appraisal methodologies by requiring the appraisal of fixtures and real property as separate units despite the fact that the property is sold in the marketplace as a single unit.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)




State Bar Admission

Garcia on Admission, S202512—Order to Show Cause—May 16, 2012.

The Supreme Court ordered the Committee of Bar Examiners to show cause why Sergio C. Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, should be admitted to the State Bar. The questions presented include: (1) whether 8 U.S.C. section 1621, subdivision (c), or any other statute, regulation or authority precludes admission of an undocumented immigrant to the State Bar of California; (2) whether any state legislation provides—as specifically authorized by 8 U.S.C. section 1621, subdivision (d)—that undocumented immigrants are eligible for professional licenses in fields such as law, medicine, or other professions and, if not, what significance, if any, should be given to the absence of such legislation; (3) whether the issuance of a license to practice law impliedly represents that the licensee may be legally employed as an attorney; (4) the legal and public policy limitations, if any, on an undocumented immigrant’s ability to practice law; and (5) what, if any, other public policy concerns arise with the admission?

The case has immediately garnered substantial media attention, including from the ABA Journal, The Recorder, the Los Angeles Times, KPCC (Southern California Public Radio), and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. We previously discussed Mr. Garcia’s quest for bar admission in this post.

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