Week In Review (April 23, 2018)

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Week of:                      April 16, 2018
Publication Date:       April 23, 2018

Appellate Decisions – Summaries

From the First Appellate District –

  • Is In re W.R., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law [OR] The People v. W.R.; this case is one that was returned from the California Supreme Court on an issue of the seal of records of W.R. for reconsideration upon the implementation of Assembly Bill 529. The new bill clarified the requirements for sealing certain records for juveniles, and would require all the records pertaining to a minor’s petitions before the court to be sealed.  On that basis, the court’s determination was that all of W.R.’s records should be sealed, changing its prior position of allowing some records to be sealed and not others.
  • Is Bernadette Tanguilig v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc.; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Ms. Tanguilig’s employment lawsuit under the 5-year dismissal statute. Tanguilig argued that the 5 years should be equitably tolled due to the trial court judge arbitration order, which delayed her ability to pursue trial for a period of almost a year, and two other time periods that the court deemed waived.  Ultimately the court ruled that the delays were both predictable and invited by Ms. Tanguilig in her efforts to certify a class, and pursue a more complex set of remedies.  By inviting the delays, the court held, she could not then use them to toll the time to bring the case to trial.
  • Is The People v. Alpacino McDaniels; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s entry of judgment on Mr. McDaniels’ conviction for the murder of Teric Traylor through the use of a gun. The court nevertheless remanded the case to the trial court for further findings as to the gun enhancement pursuant to Senate Bill 620.
  • Is The People v. Investco Management & Development LLC et alterius; where the court of appeals affirmed the award of attorney’s fees against both Investco and The People following the settlement of securities fraud charges. Respondents were the unnamed victims of the securities fraud perpetrated by Investco, and they were determined by both the trial court and the appeals court to have successfully enforced an important right affecting the public at large, provided necessary, non-duplicative, and significant benefits to the victims, and incurred litigation expenses out of proportion to their personal interests when they successfully opposed a motion that would have stayed all individual actions by them and other defrauded investors against these defendants.
  • Is Tikisha Marie Upshaw v. The Superior Court of Alameda County [Real Parties in Interest] The People et alterius; in a case of first impression regarding the interpretation of Penal Code 4007, the court of appeals held that when a prisoner provides sufficient evidence that her conditions are unsafe for her confinement, they may petition to transfer to a jail in a contiguous county. However, such relief is not available to Ms. Upshaw in her specific circumstances because she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies prior to filing her motion to transfer with the trial court.
  • Is In re R.M., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law [OR[ The People v. R.M.; where the court held that because truancy is not a criminal offense, 17 year old R.M. did not obstruct a peace officer in performing his or her duties when an officer ordered her to class and then arrested her when she did not comply. Because ordering a student to class does not constitute “performing a legal duty” the arrest and subsequent charge was improper, and the court of appeals therefore reversed the conviction.  The court of appeals specifically parsed the duty of an officer engaged in truancy activities to deliver a student to a school, from one of ensuring her attendance in class; noting that the officer’s legal duties ends at the point of delivery.
  • Is David Fischer v. Joannie Fischer; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of a domestic violence restraining order against Joannie Fischer, when she slapped, scratched, grappled, and shoved David Fischer when he received a call from his mistress during a period of time where they were attempting reconciliation. After a trial on the issues where numerous witnesses and evidence was presented, the trial court determined, and the appeals court affirmed, that the violence at issue was a singular event and did not justify the imposition of a restraining order.

From the Second Appellate District –

  • Is Robert Riske v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County [Real Party in Interest] City of Los Angeles; this case arises out of Mr. Riske, a retired police officer, allegedly being passed over for promotion or good assignments due to reporting and testifying against fellow officers who had falsified reports. The issue here relates to the ability of Mr. Riske to discovery private personnel records of the individuals considered for, and promoted, ahead of Mr. Riske.  The relevant code section generally prevents the release of information for more than five years past the relevant conduct, and here both Riske and the City agreed that the relevant dates were the dated of the promotional decisions, but Riske also argued that the 5 year bar did not apply to any investigations of citizen complaints nor to certain other information not expressly defined in the relevant code section.  The court of appeals agreed with Mr. Riske, and issued a peremptory writ.
  • Is Andrew Castillo et alterius v. Glenair, Inc.; where a wage and hour dispute was brought first against a contractor agency on behalf of a class of employees for failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime, and for meal and rest hour violations. The parties settled that class action, and a second action was filed against the client company that used the contractor.  Because the contractor and the company stood in privity with each other, the court held that the global settlement of wage and hour claims were unavailable for the plaintiffs to pursue for a second time.  Entry of judgment against the plaintiffs was therefore affirmed.
  • Is All Green Electric, Inc. v. Security National Insurance Company; where the court of appeals affirmed judgment in favor of Security National Insurance Company, where All Green Electric requested that Security National defend and indemnify it in another action where All Green is a defendant. The courts both agreed that the contract between the two parties has an exclusion of coverage for liability arising out of All Green’s own work, and that in the underlying action against All Green the plaintiff there is alleging that All Green caused a hospital to buy unnecessary services because All Green’s failure to tighten a screw during the installation of a medical device caused a strong electromagnetic field that interfered with other equipment and caused the underlying plaintiff to purchase and install unnecessary shielding.
  • Is Achikam Shapira v. Lifetech Resources; in an employment lawsuit that went to a bench trial, Mr. Shapira moved to dismiss the entire action with prejudice Code of Civ. Proc. §581(e), which permits such dismissals during trial. The trial court denied the dismissal and ordered that the parties complete the bench trial by submitting closing briefs, ultimately finding in favor of Lifetech and awarding contractual attorney’s fees.  Shapira appealed, and the appellate court agreed with Mr. Shapira that he had a right to dismiss the case with prejudice prior to closing arguments, as that case had not yet been submitted to the court.
  • Is County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission [Real Party in Interest] Carlos Arellano; where the court of appeals upheld the five-day suspension of Mr. Arellano, a Sheriff’s deputy. The court noted that although there was wiretap evidence of Mr. Arellano colluding with narcotics dealers in the cultivation of marijuana, the evidence was properly suppressed at Mr. Arellano’s administrative hearing when the court order permitting the Sheriff’s Department to use the recordings in an internal investigation did not permit their use in a more public venue such as an administrative hearing.
  • Is Joyce Lederer et alterius v. Gursey Schnieder et alterius; where the court of appeals reversed and remanded with instructions the trial court’s entry of judgment in favor of the defendant on a statute of limitations defense. Here, the court reasoned that the circumstances in this case were one of the unusual cases where discovery of a fraudulent act does not trigger the statute of limitations.  Here, Ms. Lederer hired the Gursey Schnieder accounting firm to purchase a $5 million insurance policy, but only purchased one for $1.5 million; after an accident that triggered a full policy payout, the plaintiffs discovered the deceit.  Despite having knowledge that the policy was improperly obtained, they properly argued to the court of appeals that they did not suffer any damages until the lower policy limits were actually paid, making the timing of this action fall within the statute of limitations.  The reason why the policy did not trigger right away was because there was a legal issue regarding whether or not the driver that ultimately caused the accident triggering the policy was acting within the scope of employment or whether he was an uninsured motorist.  It was only after that issue was determined and the policy paid out that plaintiffs’ cause of action accrued against the Gursey defendants.
  • Is Laine Hedwall v. PCMV. LLC et alterius; while the underlying dispute regards the purportedly deteriorating conditions of a golf course and the non-payment of country club fees, the issue on appeal is one of first impression for the court in addressing whether the right to file one amended complaint as a matter of right is restricted just to an original complaint or whether it may be done once on any pleading, including amended pleadings. Here, the court relied on statutory interpretation to determine that the legislature only intended this right to accrue to the original complaint, and thus the trial court did not err in striking a Second Amended Cross-Complaint as improperly filed when it was filed without leave of court and without stipulation of the parties.
  • Is Joel D. Kettler v. Leslie Gould et alterius; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s partial denial of the Gould defendants’ Anti-SLAPP motion. The issue was whether the cause of action based on complaints to the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards could be maintained, and both courts determined that because the Board was not a public agency and that there was no public interest issue in those complaints.  The courts held that because the complaint to the Board was not made in a public manner, and because the complaint alleged only issues that were relevant to the Goulds, there was not a public interest implicated sufficient for the Anti-SLAPP statute.

From the Fourth Appellate District –

  • Is Robert O. Powell v. Bear Valley Community Hospital; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of Mr. Powell’s petition for a writ of mandate to void the Hospital Board of Director’s termination and for reinstatement of his staff medical privileges. This case has its roots in 2001 and Mr. Powell’s conduct in a Texas hospital, where he was alleged to have made misrepresentations to a young patients’ parents by failing to disclose that he had severed the child’s vas deferens during a hernia procedure, and then telling other hospital staff he had made the disclosures.  This case followed him to The Bear Valley Community Hospital, when he made further misrepresentations as to the reasons for leaving the Texas hospital, characterizing them as a hostile environment, and a disagreement over medical techniques.  When Bear Valley discovered the mismatch, it ultimately chose to deny him full privileges at the hospital, which Mr. Powell appealed, and both the trial court and court of appeals upheld as being within the Board’s discretion.
  • Is The People v. Patrick Lowell Jackson; where the court of appeals reversed Mr. Jackson’s sentence upon a guilty plea, finding that the trial court’s finding that Mr. Jackson was competent to stand trial or enter a plea was not based on substantial evidence, and that Mr. Jackson’s “stable developmental disability” rendered him incapable of understanding the charge against him for one count of lewd contact with a minor, and incapable of understanding the significance of a guilty plea.
  • Is The People v. Misha Yvanne Sanders; where Ms. Sanders filed a petition under Proposition 47 to reclassify her convictions for burglary and identify theft as misdemeanors and re-sentence her in light of the re-classifications. The trial court and the court of appeals agreed that the burglaries constituted ‘shoplifting’ under the new statutory schema, but that identity theft did not constitute ‘petty theft’ because identity ‘theft’ is not a crime of theft but of false personation, and is intended to protect the victim from the misuse of his or her identity.
  • Is The People v. Salvador Oswaldo Chavez et alterius; where the court of appeals substantively modified its March 28, 2018, statement of decision, and now disposes of the case by vacating and remanding Mr. Gonzalez’s sentence for limited re-sentencing, but otherwise affirming the judgments.

From the Fifth Appellate District –

  • Is Monsanto Company [With Interveners] California Citrus Mutual et alterius v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment et alterius [With Interveners] Center for Food Safety et alterius; where the court of appeals upheld the provision in Proposition 65 that specified that the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s list of carcinogens would be the list used within the State of California. The plaintiffs, lead by the Monsanto Company, argued that it was an unconstitutional delegation of rule-making authority for an un-elected, unaccountable, foreign agency to determine what chemicals are known to the state to cause cancer.  Ultimately the court held that the language in Proposition 65 is disjunctive, and does not remove rule-making authority from the state, it merely supplements any state-determined carcinogens with those identified by the International Agency.  Moreover, it has procedural mechanisms sufficient for any person to challenge the determinations of any particular carcinogen, and remove it from the list of chemicals subject to enforcement.

From the Sixth Appellate District –

  • Is The Police Retirement System of St. Luis et alterius v. Larry Page et alterius; in a shareholder lawsuit against Google alleging that Google improperly harmed the value of its shares by agreeing with other companies to refrain from ‘poaching’ top talent from other technology companies. The court of appeal held that because the actions giving rise to the alleged harmful activities were known or should have been known by no later than in mid-2011, when Google posted a statement following a settlement with the United States Department of Justice describing both the activities and the settlement agreement.  Because this case was not filed until 2014, it was barred by the 3-year statute of limitations.

Supreme Court – Roundup

This Week, the Supreme Court published no cases.

In the Supreme Court’s Weekly Summary of Accepted Cases, the court has announced that three cases were accepted during the week of April 16, 2018, including:

  • California School Boards Assn. v. State of California; where the court will look to address whether the State violates article 13B, Section 6, of the California Constitution when it identifies general education funding to school districts as ‘offsetting revenue’ for the purposes of reimbursing state mandates, and whether the State violates the separation of powers when it allows both general and special education funding to be identified as offsetting revenues for state-mandated programs.
  • People v. Lynch; will look to answer whether imposing an “electronic search condition” on a minor as a condition of his parole is reasonable when such condition has no relationship to the crime he committed but is justified as being reasonably related to future criminality.
  • People v. Walters; will look to address whether it is proper to impose a criminal laboratory analysis fee and a drug program fee based on a defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit certain drug offenses.

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