It is often said that the Supreme Court is not an error-correction court, meaning the court’s policy is to not use its discretionary review authority simply to fix a mistaken Court of Appeal decision. Instead, the court will normally opt to hear a case only “[w]hen necessary to secure uniformity of decision or to settle an important question of law.” (Rule 8.500(b)(1).)

The court’s decision last month in Grande v. Eisenhower Medical Center (see here) provided a reminder of this traditional limit.

In Grande, the court held an employee’s settlement of her Labor Code and Unfair Competition lawsuit against a staffing agency did not bar her from then alleging the same claims against her employer in a later action. In doing so, the court disapproved Castillo v. Glenair, Inc. (2018) 23 Cal.App.5th 262, which, the court said, had “found claim preclusion on similar facts.”

The court concluded that Castillo was wrongly decided. But, when the losing party had previously asked the court to reverse the Castillo decision itself, the court denied review. The Grande opinion leaves the losing parties in Castillo with no more than the small solace that their legal position has been vindicated, but it comes several years too late to make a difference in their case.

Castillo is not an anomaly. Some other recent disapprovals of cases in which the Supreme Court had earlier denied review are:

  • Spikener v. Ally Financial, Inc. (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 151, review denied (Liu, J., voting to grant), but disapproved in Pulliam v. HNL Automotive Inc. (2022) 13 Cal.5th 127 (see here).
  • Lafferty v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (2018) 25 Cal.App.5th 398, review denied, but disapproved in Pulliam v. HNL Automotive Inc. (2022) 13 Cal.5th 127 (see here).
  • Ling v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc. (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 1242, review denied, but disapproved in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc. (2022) 13 Cal.5th 93 (see here).
  • Conservatorship of Bryan S. (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 190, review denied, but disapproved in Conservatorship of Eric B. (2022) 12 Cal.5th 1085 (see here).
  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection v. Howell (2017) 18 Cal.App.5th 154, review denied, but disapproved by Presbyterian Camp & Conference Centers, Inc. v. Superior Court (2021) 12 Cal.5th 493 (see here).

Related:

The Supreme Court doesn’t decide all important issues.