California Court of Appeal Opinions

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AMR provides ambulance services in more than 15 California counties, employing dispatchers, call takers, drivers, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), paramedics and nurses. Plaintiffs, four current or former employees, claimed that AMR failed to provide the meal and rest periods to which they were entitled under Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512 and the applicable wage orders issued by the California Industrial Welfare Commission. They alleged a class claim under the Labor Code; a class claim under Business and Professions Code section 17200, the Unfair Competition Law; and a claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), a representative action not subject to class action requirements. The court of appeal reversed the trial court’s denial of class certification as based on an incorrect legal assumption about the nature of rest periods: that a rest period during which an employee remains on call may be considered an off-duty rest period. The court acknowledged that there may be other bases on which the trial court may conclude on remand that plaintiffs have not shown the predominance of common issues required for class certification of their overarching rest period claim. View "Bartoni v. American Medical Response West" on Justia Law

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Capacity manufactures “Trailer Jockey” semi-tractors. GFL became an authorized Capacity dealer under a 1995 franchise agreement. In 2013, Capacity notified GFL of its intent to terminate GFL’s franchise, alleging GFL had misrepresented the employment status of a former GFL employee who went to work for Capacity’s chief competitor and allowed the employee to continue accessing Capacity’s online parts ordering system while working for the competitor. GFL filed a protest with the state New Motor Vehicle Board, alleging there was no good cause for the termination, as required by the Vehicle Code. An ALJ concluded Capacity had not established good cause because GFL had not violated the express terms of its franchise agreement. The Board agreed. The Sacramento County Superior Court directed the Board to set aside its decision. While that case was pending GFL filed this suit in the Alameda County Superior Court, which concluded that GFL did not have standing because section 11726 only authorizes actions by “licensees” of the DMV and GFL did not possess such a license. The court of appeal reversed. GFL is a member of the class protected by the subdivision of section 11713.3 on which its cause of action is based; its claim is not defeated by its status as non-licensee. View "Guarantee Fork Lift, Inc. v. Capacity of Texas, Inc." on Justia Law

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Property owners Carolyn Kutzke and Karen Kapp applied to the City of San Diego (City) for a vesting tentative parcel map and related permits to allow them to subdivide two adjacent lots totaling 1.45 acres (property) into four lots, retain an existing residence on one lot, and build a new residence on each of the remaining lots (project). The local community planning board recommended denial of the project; however, the planning commission approved it and certified a mitigated negative declaration for it. A citizen appealed the planning commission's decision to the City council. The City council granted the appeal and reversed the planning commission's decision, finding the project's mitigated negative declaration was inadequate, particularly as to the project's potential impacts on geology, land use, and public safety; the project was inconsistent with the applicable community plan; and requested deviations from applicable development regulations were inappropriate for the project's location and would not result in a more desirable project. The owners petitioned the Court of Appeal for mandamus relief from the superior court order reversing the City’s decision. The Court of Appeal reversed the superior court, finding substantial evidence to support the City’s findings. View "Kutzke v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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As part of their 2010 marital settlement agreement, respondent Misti Janes (Wife) was awarded $113,392 from the retirement account of appellant Tim Janes (Husband). In 2014, the money was still in the retirement account. Wife sought the amount of the award, plus and gains or losses resulting from that money sitting in the account. The family court granted Wife’s request for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) reflecting Wife was entitled to $113,392 and the resulting gains or losses dating back to the date of separation. Husband appealed, arguing: (1) the family court lacked jurisdiction to modify the 2010 judgment of dissolution by awarding the gains and losses to Wife; and (2) the family court erred by dating the gains and losses back to the date of separation, rather than the date of the dissolution judgment. Finding that Husband failed to explain why he was entitled to gains earned on the$113,392, the Court of Appeal was unpersuaded by Husband's interpretation of the agreement. The trial court did not modify the agreement by its award, nor did it err by dating the gains or losses earned on the award back to the state of the 2010 judgment. View "Marriage of Janes" on Justia Law
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At issue was whether the trial court employed the correct legal standard in determining the reasonable value of appellant's emergency treatment of four patients as an interventional cardiologist. The Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that the court in Children's Hospital Central California v. Blue Cross of California, (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1260, correctly applied the governing standard. The Court of Appeal declined to adopt appellant's narrow reading of the case and, instead, held that Children's Hospital supports the decision that the trial court made here to consider a variety of evidence to determine the "reasonable market value" of the services that appellant provided under quantum meruit principles. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. View "Sanjiv Goel, M.D., Inc. v. Regal Medical Group" on Justia Law
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Representing himself, Grappo filed a complaint that "could not have withstood a demurrer,” which was served on McKean, a man named in the caption but not identified in the complaint, who apparently had no relationship with Grappo. Six months after service, without notice to anyone, Grappo requested a $9,982,308.83 default against McKean, with a claimed itemization of damages referring to numbers not found in the complaint. The clerk entered the default, but the court refused to enter judgment. Weeks later, McKean died. Two weeks later, Grappo filed another request for default and judgment of $12,012,818.88, “not mailed” because McKean was “now deceased.” This time, Grappo referred to “$60,000,” an amount in the prayer for the claimed value of personal property referred to in the eighth cause of action “belonging to some of the heirs of the Michael A. Grappo 2003 Trust.” Apparently based on that, the court entered judgment for Grappo for $60,000. The trustee of McKean’s trust successfully moved to vacate and set aside the default judgment. The court of appeal affirmed, stating that trial courts, “however burdened they be,” must vigilantly attend to their duty in connection with the default process, “to act as gatekeeper, ensuring that only the appropriate claims get through.” View "Grappo v. McMills" on Justia Law
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From 1999-2010, Wilcox made loans to Hardwick. In 2013, Hardwick filed suit to recover usurious interest and prevent Wilcox from foreclosing on the property securing his loans. Wilcox countersued for breach of contract and judicial foreclosure. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Hardwick, finding that usurious interest payments made over the course of the relationship offset the principal debt and that Hardwick could recover $227,235.83 in interest payments he made during the two years before the filing of the lawsuit. Under California law, when a loan is usurious, the creditor is entitled to repayment of the principal sum only. He is entitled to no interest whatsoever. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Wilcox’s arguments that, in a forbearance agreement, Hardwick waived his usury claim with respect to any loan payment he made before April 2012 and that the statute of limitations barred Hardwick’s claim with respect to any loan that was paid off more than two years before the lawsuit was filed.The court reasoned that the payments made before the two-year limitations period were applied to offset principal, so only the later payments were subject to recovery. View "Hardwick v. Wilcox" on Justia Law

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A workers' compensation insurance policy may be rescinded pursuant to Insurance Code section 650. A rescission is enforced by a civil action for relief based on rescission or by asserting rescission as a defense. In this case, the Board appealed an arbitrator's conclusion that, as a matter of law, the insurer could not rescind a workers' compensation insurance policy and that the policy was in effect. Because the arbitrator and the appeals board did not address and determine whether rescission was a meritorious defense to the employee's claim, the Court of Appeal annuled the appeal board's decision and remanded with directions to hear and determine whether the insurer was entitled to rescind, and did rescind, the policy at issue. View "Southern Insurance v. WCAB" on Justia Law
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Dirck Van Audenhove sued Robert Perry for malicious prosecution, alleging that Perry contacted the police and falsely accused him of stalking, and that the police arrested him, but the district attorney’s office ultimately declined to prosecute. The trial court sustained a demurrer and dismissed the action, on the ground that the complaint failed to allege a prosecution, as required for a claim of malicious prosecution. In a matter of first impression, the California Court of Appeal held that a cause of action for malicious prosecution cannot be premised on an arrest that does not result in formal charges (at least when the arrest is not pursuant to a warrant). View "Van Audenhove v. Perry" on Justia Law
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Defendant appealed from the denial of two petitions for resentencing under Penal Code section 1170.18, which is part of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act (Proposition 47). At issue was the eligibility restriction set forth in section 1170.18(i), which excludes "persons who have one or more prior convictions for an offense specified in clause (iv) of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667 or for an offense requiring registration pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 290." The Court of Appeal adopted the holding in People v. Sledge, (2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 1089, that section 1170.18(i) incorporates the definition provided in section 667, subdivision (d). The Court of Appeal further concluded that a juvenile adjudication for an offense listed in section 290, subdivision (c) does not constitute a prior conviction for purposes of section 1170.18(i) unless the prerequisite conditions listed in section 667, subdivision (d)(3) are also satisfied. Accordingly, because the trial court relied on an erroneous interpretation of the statute in this case, the Court of Appeal reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "People v. Fernandez" on Justia Law
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