At the Supreme Court’s conference yesterday, after which Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye announced her retirement, actions of note included:

  • Government immunity. The court granted review in County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court and limited the issue to: “Is Santa Clara County immune under the Government Claims Act (Gov. Code, § 810 et seq.) from an action seeking reimbursement for emergency medical care provided to persons covered by the county’s health care service plan?” In a published opinion, the Sixth District Court of Appeal held a hospital that provided emergency care to patients enrolled in a county-operated health plan could not sue the county for reimbursement for the services even though a provision of California’s Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act states, “A health care service plan . . . shall reimburse providers for emergency services and care provided to its enrollees.” The appellate court concluded that, because common law claims cannot be brought against public entities, the county could not be sued for breach of an implied-in-fact or implied-in-law contract. The opinion acknowledged, “under our interpretation of the relevant statutes a provider has greater remedies against a private health care service plan than it does against a public entity health care service plan.” Horvitz & Levy filed the successful petition for review.
  • Dependency mootness. The court granted-and-held in In re Z.T., which is now another case waiting for the court’s decision in In re D.P.  Review was granted in D.P. in in May 2021 and the issues were limited to:  “(1) Is an appeal of a juvenile court’s jurisdictional finding moot when a parent asserts that he or she has been or will be stigmatized by the finding?  (2) Is an appeal of a juvenile court’s jurisdictional finding moot when a parent asserts that he or she may be barred from challenging a current or future placement on the Child Abuse Central Index as a result of the finding?” In Z.T., the First District, Division Three, unpublished opinion dismissed as moot a father’s appeal because “[t]he juvenile court has vacated the dependency proceedings with respect to Father’s children and dismissed their dependency petitions,” and it said, “Father’s concern that future dependency or family law proceedings will be ‘infected’ if findings are not reversed is speculative.”
  • Forum selection clause. The court granted review in Cynosure, LLC v. Superior Court and transferred the case back to the Fourth District, Division Three, which had summarily denied a writ petition by a divided vote. Division Three will now address in a written opinion the merits of the writ petition. A plastic surgery group filed a cross-complaint against the petitioner alleging causes of action arising from the purchase of a product the petitioner manufactured. The petitioner, a Massachusetts company, unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the cross-complaint based on a clause in the product’s sales agreement that said the buyer “agrees to submit all disputes arising out of, or relating to, this Agreement to a court in Boston.” The plastic surgeons have argued “the parties merely agreed that Boston courts are an alternative forum for litigation.” Here are the petition for review, answer, and reply.
  • Inevitable discovery. The court denied review in In re A.L., but Justice Goodwin Liu recorded a vote to hear the case. A divided Third District unpublished opinion affirmed juvenile court orders denying a suppression motion and finding a minor to be a ward of the court. The majority concluded the seized evidence “would have inevitably been discovered.” The dissent, however, asserted the record did not support the inevitable discovery doctrine “where the application of that doctrine was not raised, much less adequately fleshed out, below” and because “the record is, at best, ambiguous as to the doctrine’s application to the facts of this particular case.”
  • Insurance coverage. Justice Liu also recorded a dissenting vote from the denial of review in Ghukasian v. Aegis Security Insurance Company, where a published opinion of the Second District, Division Four, held an insurance carrier had no duty to defend a lawsuit against a homeowner for grading land and cutting trees on a neighbor’s property, because the conduct was intentional even if the homeowner acted on the good faith belief that the work was being done on her own property. The homeowner acknowledged other Court of Appeal cases were adverse to her position, but claimed the Supreme Court had disapproved those opinions in Liberty Surplus Ins. Corp. v. Ledesma & Meyer Construction Co. (2018) 5 Cal.5th 216 (see here). Division Four rejected the argument. Justice Liu had separately concurred in the Liberty Surplus case “to clarify three aspects of the understanding of an ‘accident.’ ”
  • Slip and fall. The court denied review in Hassaine v. Club Demonstration Services, Inc., but Justice Joshua Groban recorded a vote to grant. The partially published opinion of the Fourth District, Division One, reversed the summary judgment for a company operating food sample tables at a Costco. A Costco shopper fell after slipping on liquid soap on the floor, but the superior court concluded the company could not be liable because the company’s contract with Costco limited its maintenance obligations to a specified area around each sample table and the shopper fell outside that area. Division One held the contract “may allocate responsibility and liability as a matter of contract between those parties, [but] it does not limit the scope of [the company’s] common law duty to customers.” The opinion noted a separate question is whether the company breached its duty and said the company “would have no liability so long as its conduct was reasonable under the circumstances.”
  • Habeas dissenting vote. The court denied a pro per’s habeas corpus petition in In re Villegas, but Justice Liu recorded a vote to issue an order to show cause. The docket gives no information about the issues raised by the petition, so we can’t tell the reason for the dissenting vote.
  • Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were 4 criminal case grant-and-holds: two more waiting for a decision in People v. Strong (see here), which was argued in May; one holding for In re Lopez (see here and here); and one more waiting for People v. Tran, which was argued in May (see also here).
  • Disposal of grant-and-holds. The court shed eight former grant-and-holds. Six had been holding for the March decision in Sheen v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (2022) 12 Cal.5th 905: review was dismissed in four of them — Poblete v. Specialized Loan Servicing (see here), Beier v. Bank of America (see here), Sheen v. FCI Lender Services, Inc. (see here), and Bank of America v. Phillips (see here) — and the other two — Domondon v. Three Olives Inc. (see here) and Weimer v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC (see here) — were sent back to the Courts of Appeal for reconsideration. Also, review was dismissed in two cases that were holding for both People v. Padilla (2022) 13 Cal.5th 152, which was decided in May, and People v. Federico, which the court transferred back to the Court of Appeal in February.