August 8, 2012
Most of the pending California Supreme Court cases we mentioned in this post as being particularly noteworthy have now been argued and decided. But, of course, even a decision of the state’s highest court is not always the end of the story.
For example, in Perry v. Brown (2011) 52 Cal.4th 1116, the Supreme Court ruled that proponents of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning gay marriage in California, have standing under California law to litigate the measure’s constitutionality, thereby allowing a federal constitutional challenge to the measure to move forward on its merits. In February, the Ninth Circuit held the measure unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment and later denied a petition for rehearing. The proponents of Prop 8 have recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari. For a link to the petition and an in-depth discussion, check out this post on SCOTUSblog.
In Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. (2011) 52 Cal.4th 541, the Supreme Court held that when a tortiously injured person receives medical care for his or her injuries, and the provider of that care accepts as full payment, pursuant to a preexisting contract with the injured person’s health insurer, an amount less than that stated in the provider’s bill, the injured person may not recover as economic damages for past medical expenses the undiscounted sum stated in the provider’s bill but never paid. The Court explained that “no such recovery is allowed, for the simple reason that the injured plaintiff did not suffer any economic loss in that amount.” This article discusses how, in response to the Howell decision, the Consumer Attorneys of California have sponsored SB 1528, a California Senate bill that “would require, in order to ensure the public policy of all injured persons being compensated equally, that an injured person is entitled to recover the reasonable value of medical services provided without regard to the amount actually paid . . .”
In Brinker Restaurant Corp v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004, the Court addressed important issues pertaining to wage and hour class actions. The case is now back in the trial court, but the debate over how to interpret and apply the Court’s decision rages on, as reflected in this recent post from the UCL Practitioner.