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, October 13, 2010. 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. This week we also note a case where the Court has rejected a request by the Ninth Circuit to answer certified legal questions pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.548.

Review Granted

Faulkinbury v. Boyd & Associates, S184995—Review Granted & Held—October 13, 2010

The issue presented is the proper interpretation of California’s statutes and regulations governing an employer’s duty to provide meal and rest breaks to hourly workers, the same issue presently before the Court in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, S166350.

King v. Willmett, S186151—Review Granted & Held—October 13, 2010

The questions presented are: (1) is the “negotiated rate differential”—the difference between the full billed rate for medical care and the actual amount paid as negotiated between a medical provider and an insurer—a collateral source benefit under the collateral source rule, which allows plaintiff to collect that amount as economic damages, or is the plaintiff limited in economic damages to the amount the medical provider accepts as payment; and (2) did the trial court err when it permitted the plaintiff to present the full billed amount of medical charges to the jury but then reduced the jury’s award of damages by the negotiated rate differential. The same issues are now before the Court in Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc., S179115.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Gilb v. Chiang, S185346—Review Denied [Werdegar, J. voting for review]—October 13, 2010

The issue presented was whether the California Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) has authority to direct the State Controller temporarily to defer paying state employees’ salaries (except for federally-mandated minimum wages) when appropriations are unavailable due to the state Legislature’s failure to enact a timely state budget.

The Third District Court of Appeal held in a published decision, Gilb v. Chiang (2010) 186 Cal.App.4th 444, that: (1) an actual controversy existed for the purpose of granting declaratory relief, notwithstanding the Legislature’s passage of a budget; (2) the DPA acted within its authority by issuing a pay letter that instructed the State Controller to reduce the state employees’ paychecks pending the adoption of a budget; and (3) the State was not required to pay its employees the State minimum wage during a budget impasse.



Court of Appeal Publication Request Denied


Denial of Ninth Circuit Request to Answer Legal Question

Barnes-Wallace v. City of San Diego, S185299—Request for Certification Denied—October 13, 2010

Homosexual parents, agnostic parents, and their scouting-aged sons filed suit against the City of San Diego and the Boy Scouts of America, alleging that the city’s leasing of public park land to the Boy Scouts violated the federal Constitution’s Establishment Clause, the California Constitution’s No Preference and No Aid Clauses, the federal and state Equal Protection Clauses, a city ordinance, and state contract law. The District Court entered summary judgment for the plaintiffs. The Boy Scouts appealed. The Ninth Circuit concluded the plaintiffs had standing but certified questions concerning the California Constitution to the California Supreme Court. The California Supreme Court denied the Ninth Circuit’s request for a decision of certified questions without prejudice subject to re-filing after the issue of standing was finalized. The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari on the standing question.

In Barnes-Wallace v. City Of San Diego (9th Cir. 2010) 607 F.3d 1167, the Ninth Circuit renewed its request for the certification of two questions: (1) whether the leases interfered with the free exercise and enjoyment of religion by granting preference for a religious organization in violation of the No Preference Clause of the California Constitution, and (2) whether the leases constituted aid for purposes of the No Aid Clause of the California Constitution and, if so, whether they benefited a creed or sectarian purpose in violation of the Clause. The Ninth Circuit explained: “The resolution of any one of the questions we certify could determine the outcome of this appeal and no controlling California precedent exists. See Cal. R. Ct. 8.548. We are aware of the California Supreme Court’s demanding caseload and recognize that our request adds to that load. But we feel compelled to request certification because this case raises difficult questions of state constitutional law with potentially broad implications for California citizens’ civil and religious liberties. Considerations of comity and federalism favor the resolution of such questions by the State’s highest court rather than this court.” (Id. at pp. 1169-1170.) The California Supreme Court denied the request stating the following on its on-line docket: “The renewed request, made pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.548, for this court to decide questions of California law presented in a matter pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is denied.”