October 28, 2010

Summary of October 27, 2010 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, October 27, 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 note that the Supreme Court has depublished a Court of Appeal decision, which prompts us again to ask whether this little-used tool might be experiencing a bit of a renaissance.

Review Granted

None.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

None.

Depublished

L.A. Checker Cab Cooperative v. First Specialty Insurance, S185188—Depublication Request Granted—October 27, 2010

The issue was whether a taxi driver’s shooting of an attacking passenger was an “accident” within a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy’s “bodily injury” coverage provision. The driver’s employer claimed it was entitled to coverage and a defense under its CGL policy because: (a) the driver had an unreasonable belief in his need for self-defense and therefore his response to the passenger’s provocation was negligent, i.e. accidental; and (2) the passenger’s “unforeseen and unexpected acts of spitting at, assaulting and threatening [the driver] were negligent acts on [the passenger’s] part and provoked a response that was also negligent on [the driver’s] part.”

The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division One, rejected both arguments. It held the shooting was not an accident because the taxi driver intentionally shot the passenger out of fear for his life. Writing for the court, Justice Rothschild explained: “[T]he undisputed evidence shows that [the driver] intentionally chambered a bullet in his gun and intentionally shot [the passenger] at point-blank range. Furthermore, [the driver] testified that he shot [the passenger] in self-defense because [the passenger] was ‘deranged’ and ‘out of control’ and [the driver] feared for his life. Given this evidence, [the passenger’s] injury was not accidental as a matter of law and, consequently, there is no potential for coverage under the policy and no duty on the part of [the insurer] to defend or indemnify.”

Court of Appeal Publication Request Denied

None.

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