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, March 30, 2011. 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 the Court has granted review of a decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal, which is a fairly uncommon event, as we discussed here.

Review Granted

In re L.L., S190230, S190245 —Review Granted; Issues Limited—March 30, 2011

Welfare & Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (f), provides that a child is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for dependency proceedings where “[t]he child’s parent or guardian caused the death of another child through abuse or neglect.” The question presented is whether “criminal” negligence is required to support jurisdiction under the statute, or whether civil negligence is sufficient.

This case stems from an order terminating the mother’s parental rights to her son and daughter. The juvenile court exercised its dependency jurisdiction over the two children after the mother’s three-year-old daughter died as a result of multiple blunt force trauma. At a Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.27 hearing, both mother and father submitted on the recommendation to terminate their parental rights and the court selected adoption as the children’s permanent plan.

On appeal, the mother contended the juvenile court applied the wrong standard when sustaining jurisdictional allegations under section 300, subdivision (f). The mother argued the “abuse or neglect” contemplated by the statute must rise to the level of criminal negligence, and that ordinary civil negligence will not suffice. The Fifth District Court of Appeal, in an unpublished decision, In re L.L. (5th Dist. 2010) 2010 WL 5188796, rejected the mother’s argument, finding no indication in the statute or its legislative history that the Legislature intended to require a finding of criminal negligence.

Roe 58 v. Doe 1, S190923—Review Granted and Held—March 30, 2011

The question presented in this clergy sex abuse case is whether the trial court correctly sustained without leave to amend the demurrers of various Catholic Church entities. This case stems from plaintiffs’ allegations that they were sexually molested by a priest when they were children. Plaintiff Roe 58 alleged that the molestation began in 1981, when he was eight years old, and ended in 1983, when he was 10 years old. Plaintiff Roe 61 alleged that the molestations began in 1968, when he was eight years old, and ended in 1974, when he was 14 years old. In April 2008, plaintiffs sued several Catholic Church entities as Doe defendants, stating various causes of action based on allegations that even though the defendants knew the priest had molested children who attended his church, they continued to keep him in place as a parish priest. Plaintiff Roe 61 alleged that he repressed all memory of the sexual abuse until his memories began to return in 2004. Plaintiff Roe 58 alleged that various “psychological coping mechanisms” prevented him from ascertaining his damages or understanding that the abuse he suffered had been wrongful. Both alleged that they sued within three years of discovering that psychological injury occurring during adulthood was caused by the abuse.

The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Eight, affirmed in a published decision, Roe 58 v. Doe 1 (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 1360, holding the trial court correctly sustained the demurrers because the statute of limitations on the plaintiffs’ claims expired years before they sued and also because the plaintiffs did not sue in 2003 during the Legislature’s one-year revival window for such claims. The lead case is Quarry v. Doe, S171382.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)




Court of Appeal Publication Request Denied