The Supreme Court was civil-minded at its conference today, granting review in two civil cases. Actions of note included:
- $2,500,000 sanctions award. The court agreed to hear City of Los Angeles v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, where a divided published opinion by the Second District, Division Five, Court of Appeal reversed an award of $2,500,000 in sanctions that was imposed for discovery abuses. Justice Joshua Groban was recused. The Division Five majority held that the two provisions in the Civil Discovery Act under which the defendant had moved for the sanctions did not allow for imposition of monetary sanctions. The dissent disagreed with the statutory interpretation and also said, “This case presents a record of egregious discovery abuse that is unmatched in my experience.” The majority opinion did, however, order a remand for further consideration of possible sanctions under “other provisions of the Discovery Act” that do authorize imposition of “some amount of monetary sanctions.”
- Default. The court also granted review in California Capital Insurance Company v. Hoehn. Uncommon for a straight grant of review in a civil case, the Court of Appeal opinion (by the Third District in this case) is unpublished. The appellate court held the defendant’s motion to vacate a nine-year-old, valid-on-its-face default judgment based on lack of proper service was untimely. Instead, the court held, the defendant should have filed an independent action in equity. The Third District agreed that Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (d), doesn’t state a time limit for a motion to set aside a void judgment that is valid on its face, “[b]ut,” the court said, “case law does.”
- PAGA arbitration. The court granted-and-held in Silva v. Dolgen California, LLC, another case that is now waiting for a decision in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc. The court granted review in Adolph last summer and limited the issue to: “Whether an aggrieved employee who has been compelled to arbitrate claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) that are ‘premised on Labor Code violations actually sustained by’ the aggrieved employee (Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (2022) 596 U.S. __, __ [142 S.Ct. 1906, 1916] (Viking River Cruises); see Lab. Code, §§ 2698, 2699, subd. (a)) maintains statutory standing to pursue ‘PAGA claims arising out of events involving other employees’ (Viking River Cruises, at p. __ [142 S.Ct. at p. 1916]) in court or in any other forum the parties agree is suitable.” In Silva, the Fourth District, Division Two, in an unpublished opinion, relied on its decision in Gavriiloglou v. Prime Healthcare Management, Inc. (2022) 83 Cal.App.5th 595 and held “the trial court erred in denying [the defendant’s] motion to arbitrate plaintiffs’ individual Labor Code claims; however, it correctly denied arbitration of their representative PAGA claim because plaintiffs were acting in different capacities and asserting different rights.” The Supreme Court denied review in Gavriiloglou two weeks ago.
- Patient confidentiality. Justice Leondra Kruger recorded a dissenting vote from the denial of review in Vigil v. Muir Medical Group IPA, Inc. In a published opinion, the First District, Division Two, affirmed the denial of class certification in an action under the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act alleging the defendant should have prevented a former employee from downloading private medical information of over 5,000 patients. Division Two said the “allegations raise questions regarding breach of confidentiality and causation that necessarily require individualized inquiries regarding many, if not all, of the putative class members.” The appellate court concluded a health care provider is not liable “for the release of confidential information without a showing that an unauthorized party viewed the information.”
- Gender equal protection. The court issued an order to show cause, returnable in the Court of Appeal, on the pro per’s habeas corpus petition in In re Galzinski. The issue is whether the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s “policy prohibiting general population male inmates access to certain products specified in the petition while allowing access to those same products to general population female inmates violates the equal protection clauses of the state and federal Constitutions. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 7, subd. (a); U.S. Const., 14th Amend.)”
- Criminal case grant-and-hold. There was just one criminal case grant-and-hold. The case is another one waiting for a decision in People v. Lynch (see here).
- Grant-and-hold disposal. The court dismissed review in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. Bay Area Toll Authority, which had been waiting (see here) for the August decision in Zolly v. City of Oakland (2022) 13 Cal.5th 780. In the Bay Area Toll case, the First District, Division Two, published opinion rejected a challenge to a toll increase — approved by 55 percent of the voters, not a two-thirds vote as the plaintiffs claimed was required — for seven Bay Area bridges.