November 16, 2013

Summary of November 13, 2013, 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, November 13, 2013.  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

(H.) B. v. County of San Bernardino, S213066 — Review Granted — November 13, 2013

Review in this case has been granted after an unpublished opinion from the Fourth District, Division Two, of the Court of Appeal.

The petition for review presented the following two issues:  (1) whether the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) imposes a mandatory duty on law enforcement agencies to report to the county’s child protective services agency every known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect reported to it, or whether law enforcement agencies have discretion to report; and (2) whether courts use an objective or subjective standard to review the conduct of “mandated reporters” under CANRA.

The sheriff’s department investigated bruises that a two-year-old boy exhibited on returning from a visit to his father, determined there was an ongoing custody dispute, and concluded there was no need for further investigation.  A month later, the boy suffered a permanently disabling head injury while in his father’s care.  In a lawsuit against the county and others for violating CANRA, the trial court entered summary judgment against the plaintiff.  The Court of Appeal affirmed.

City of Perris v. Stamper, S213468 — Review Granted; Issues Limited — November 13, 2013

This case also comes from the Fourth District, Division Two.  The Court of Appeal’s opinion here was published, however — City of Perris v. Stamper (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 1104.

In granting review, the Supreme Court limited the issues to be briefed and argued.  Those issues are:  (1) Is the constitutionality of an otherwise reasonably probable dedication requirement that a governmental entity claims it would have required in order to grant the property owner permission to put his or her property to a higher use a question that must be resolved by a jury under article I, section 19, of the California Constitution?  (2) Was the dedication requirement claimed by the City of Perris a “project effect” that the eminent domain law requires to be ignored in determining just compensation?

In an eminent domain action, the trial court determined that a dedication requirement was reasonably probable and was constitutional.  The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that “the issues surrounding the dedication requirement are essential to the determination of ‘just compensation’ and therefore must be ‘ascertained by a jury.’  (See Cal. Const., art. I, § 19(a).)”

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Calguns Foundation v. County of San Mateo, S212356 — Review Denied [Baxter, J., voting for review] — November 13, 2013

The First District, Division Two, issued a published opinion (Calguns Foundation, Inc. v.
County of San Mateo
(2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 661) holding a county ordinance precluding the possession and use of guns in county parks and recreational areas was not preempted by state law.

San Diego Hospital Based Physicians v. El Centro Regional Medical Center, S213292 — Review
Denied [Kennard & Werdegar, JJ., voting for review] — November 13, 2013

The Fourth District, Division One, filed an unpublished opinion affirming the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion.  A physicians’ group sued a hospital alleging the hospital had retaliated against the plaintiffs for complaining about patient care practices and had breached numerous provisions of the parties’ agreement.  The Court of Appeal held that the retaliation claims were subject to the anti-SLAPP statute, but plaintiffs met their burden of showing a probability of prevailing on each of the causes of action, and that the contract claims are not subject to the anti-SLAPP statutes and in any event plaintiffs showed a probability of prevailing on the merits of those claims.

The petition for review raised the issues:  (1) whether an entire anti-SLAPP motion fails if a cause of action is based on allegations of both protected speech or petitioning activity and unprotected activity, but the plaintiff demonstrates a probability of prevailing on the merits only as to the unprotected activity, and (2) whether the burden shifts from the plaintiff to the defendant when an affirmative defense is implicated in analyzing the plaintiff’s probability of prevailing on the merits.

[Disclosure:  Horvitz & Levy represented the defendant hospital.]

Murphy v. Matas, S213767 — Review Denied [Kennard, J., voting for review] — November 13, 2013

In another case from Division Two of the First District, the Court of Appeal in an unpublished decision affirmed summary judgment against the plaintiff based on a primary assumption of the risk defense.  The plaintiff was injured while riding in an inflatable raft or tube and being towed behind a motorboat.  She sued the boat driver for negligence and the boat’s owner and the driver’s employer for negligent entrustment.

The petition for review raised these issues:  (1) Where a motorboat driver violates a statute prohibiting any person from “us[ing] any vessel or manipulat[ing] water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person,” does the theory of negligence per se preclude a primary assumption of risk defense against the plaintiff, who was injured while being towed by the motorboat?  (2) Does a primary assumption of risk defense apply to a negligent entrustment claim against a non-participant, who allegedly entrusted a dangerous instrumentality to a participant in an accident?




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