At the Supreme Court’s first conference of 2022, with only six justices participating because of Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar’s retirement at the end of October, actions of note included:

  • Medicare Preemption: The court granted review of an unpublished opinion, in Quishenberry v. UnitedHealthcare, Inc., where the Second District, Division Seven, Court of Appeal held that a preemption clause in federal Medicare statutes preempted an action for negligence, elder abuse, and wrongful death against a private Medicare Advantage health care plan insurer and the plan’s health care provider. When a Medicare beneficiary elects an Advantage plan, the government pays the plan’s administrator to provide all Medicare benefits for that beneficiary. The plaintiff claims his father died after being prematurely discharged from a skilled nursing facility. Division Seven disagreed with the Fifth District opinion in Yarick v. PacifiCare of California (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 1158 and the Fourth District, Division Three, opinion in Cotton v. StarCare Medical Group, Inc. (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 437. It agreed with the Second District, Division Two, decision in Roberts v. United Healthcare Services, Inc. (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 132. The Supreme Court denied review in Yarick and Cotton, with Justice Kathryn Werdegar recording a vote to grant in Cotton. There was no petition for review in Roberts.
  • PAGA Intervention: The court agreed to hear Turrieta v. Lyft, Inc., and it limited the issue to: “Does a plaintiff in a representative action filed under the Private Attorneys General Act (Lab. Code, § 2698, et seq.) (PAGA) have the right to intervene, or object to, or move to vacate, a judgment in a related action that purports to settle the claims that plaintiff has brought on behalf of the State?” The Second District, Division Four, published opinion said “no.” Five weeks ago, in Moniz v. Adecco USA, Inc. (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 56, 122-123, the First District, Division Four, disagreed with the Turrieta opinion. Horvitz & Levy is Lyft’s appellate counsel in Turrieta.
  • Competency Restoration: The court also granted review in Rodriguez v. Superior Court. The Sixth District’s published opinion rejected the claims of a defendant who had been found not competent to stand trial that the time had passed for a competency restoration hearing and that criminal cases against him should therefore be dismissed. It concluded the Legislature “intended the two-year [competency commitment] period [limit] to cover only the time the defendant actually receives treatment to restore his or her competence, not to the entire period before the trial court’s approval of the certification of restoration to competence.” The Sixth District “decline[d] to adopt [the] reasoning” of the First District, Division Three, decision in People v. Carr (2021) 59 Cal.App.5th 1136. There was no petition for review in Carr, but the Supreme Court denied a depublication request by the San Diego District Attorney.
  • Recorded Vote — Youthful Offender Parole: The court denied review in People v. Sanchez-Gomez, but Justice Goodwin Liu recorded a vote to grant. In an unpublished opinion, the First District, Division Three, rejected an argument by a defendant, who was sentenced to life without parole for a murder committed when he was 24, that a statute denying him a youth offender parole hearing violates equal protection because an LWOP convict who was under 18 at the time of the crime is allowed such hearings. There were a bunch of other issues also decided and the recorded vote is unexplained, so the reason for Justice Liu’s dissent is not certain, but he has shown a recurring interest in youth offender parole ineligibility issues. (See here.)
  • Recorded Vote: Justice Liu also recorded a dissenting vote from the denial of review in In re Clarke. As in Sanchez-Gomez (above), the vote is probably related to an unsuccessful claim that a statute denying a youth offender parole hearing denies equal protection of the law. Details are sparse because the Second District, Division Three, in a brief order, summarily denied the part of a habeas corpus petition relating to that issue.
  • Pro Per Habeas OSC: In In re Stone, a pro per’s habeas corpus petition, the court issued an order to show cause in the superior court “why petitioner is not entitled to relief on the grounds staff at Kern Valley State Prison pose an ongoing threat of violence to, and retaliation against, petitioner in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
  • New-Legislation Grant-and-Transfers: The court granted review and transferred six more cases back to the Courts of Appeal for reconsideration in light of new legislation: one more for Senate Bill 567, one for SB 567 and Assembly Bill 333, one for AB 333 and Assembly Bill 518, one more for just AB 518, one more for Assembly Bill 124, and one for AB 124, SB 567, Senate Bill 483, and Assembly Bill 1869.
  • Disposal of grant-and-holds: The court continued to shed a bunch of criminal grant-and-hold cases. There were 58 cases dumped last week and 80 the week before. This week there were 59: 27 more cases that had been grant-and-holds for People v. Lopez — which was transferred in November to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration in light of new Senate Bill 775 (see here and here) — were themselves transferred for the same reason. Review was dismissed in 32 cases that had been grant-and-holds waiting for the July decision in People v. Lewis (2021) 11 Cal.5th 952. By our count, there are 136 Lewis grant-and-holds still pending.  There had been 327 of them.  (See here.)
  • Grant-and-holds: There were seven criminal case grant-and-holds: four more holding for a decision in People v. Strong (see here), one more holding for In re Vaquera (see here), one more holding for People v. Delgadillo (see here), and one holding for People v. Prudholme (see here).