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The Modisettes were traveling in their car on Interstate 35W in Denton County, Texas. Wilhelm was also driving on I-35, while using the FaceTime application on his Apple iPhone. Wilhelm crashed into the Modisettes’ car, which had stopped due to police activity. The accident caused severe injuries to each of the Modisettes; Moriah, age five, subsequently died. Police found Wilhelm’s iPhone at the scene with FaceTime still activated. The Modisettes sued, alleging that Apple’s failure to design the iPhone to lock out the ability of drivers to use the FaceTime application while driving resulted in their injuries. The complaint incorporated data that show the compulsive/addictive nature of smartphone use and concerning the number of accidents that involve smartphone use. They alleged that Apple had failed to warn users and that Apple applied for a patent for its lockout technology in 2008, to disable the ability of a handheld computing device to perform certain functions, such as texting, while one is driving. The patent issued in 2014. Apple released Wilhelm’s iPhone 6 model in September 2014; FaceTime was a “factory-installed, non-optional application.” The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the action. Apple did not owe the Modisettes a duty of care. The Modisettes cannot establish that Apple’s design of the iPhone constituted a proximate cause of their injuries. View "Modisette v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that they were employees of insurers and service companies jointly, and were entitled to but deprived of minimum wages, overtime, meal and rest breaks, reimbursement of expenses, and accurate wage statements. On remand, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order denying certification and held that, under the analytic framework promulgated by Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004, and Duran v. U.S. Bank National Assn. (2014) 59 Cal.4th 1, the trial court acted within its discretion in denying certification. View "McCleery v. Allstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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California law provides that the death penalty shall be inflicted by either lethal gas or by “an intravenous injection of a substance or substances in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death, by standards established under the direction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.” (Pen. Code 3604 (a)). Death-row inmates and the ACLU challenged the law as impermissibly delegating the Legislature’s authority to nonelected agency officials. The court of appeal affirmed that section 3604 does not violate the doctrine of separation of powers. The statute’s purpose gives the Department adequate guidance. The Eighth Amendment prohibits governmental imposition of cruel and unusual punishments, and bars infliction of unnecessary pain in the execution of the death sentence. In developing a protocol for lethal injections, the Department must meet these standards: it may not inflict unnecessary pain and it must seek to avoid a lingering death. The Legislature did not need to provide more explicit standards and safeguards. View "Sims v. Kernan" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's convictions of three counts of second degree murder, 19 counts of unlawfully prescribing controlled substances, and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. The court held that substantial evidence supported defendant's second degree murder convictions, and the trial court did not err in admitting evidence of the six uncharged deaths of defendant's patients. The court also held that defendant failed to demonstrate prejudicial error in the trial court's denial of her motion to unseal the affidavit in support of the warrant to search her bank accounts, or in finding that the warrant was supported by probable cause; nor has she demonstrated any miscarriage of justice from introduction at trial of the financial information obtained through the warrant. Finally, the court held that defendant failed to demonstrate that the prosecution committed prejudicial misconduct warranting reversal; the trial court did not err in reopening closing arguments; the impositions of consecutive sentences on Counts 1 and 4 did not violate Penal Code section 654; and the cumulative error doctrine did not apply. View "People v. Hsiu Ying Lisa Tseng" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment denying Acco's petition for writ of mandamus seeking review of an administrative decision adopted by the Registrar, finding Acco in violation of Business and Professions Code section 7110 for failing to obtain a building permit before replacing a boiler. The court held that the Legislature's use of the term "willful" in section 7110 only requires a showing of general intent. The court also held that there was substantial evidence to support the Administrative Judge's determination that Acco willfully violated the applicable building laws. The court noted that the fact that an individual employee may not have been aware of a specific local permit requirement does not excuse a corporate licensee from complying with the building laws. View "Acco Engineered Systems v. Contractors' State License Board" on Justia Law

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Richard LaDuke appealed his conviction by jury of arson, vandalism of a religious educational institution, and felony vandalism causing over $400 in damage. At sentencing, the trial court granted him three years of formal probation, subject to certain conditions of probation. On appeal, he argued: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for vandalism of a religious educational institution; (2) that conviction had to be reversed because Penal Code section 594.3 (a) was unconstitutional under the United States and California Constitutions; (3) his conviction for felony vandalism causing over $400 in damage had to be reversed because it was a necessarily included offense of vandalism of a religious educational institution; and (4) the electronics search condition of his probation was unconstitutionally overbroad. The Court of Appeal found the electronics search probation condition was unreasonable in this case, and modified the probation order to strike that condition. The Court affirmed in all other respects. View "California v. LaDuke" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Martindale obtained a three-year domestic violence prevention restraining order (Fam. Code 6200) against Ochoa, the father of her then five-year-old daughter. Before the order was set to expire, she sought permanent renewal of the order. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the request, finding she had not shown “ ‘reasonable apprehension’ of future abuse.” The court of appeal affirmed. Although Martindale’s 2014 testimony plainly supported the issuance of the original restraining order, collateral estoppel does not apply. As the trial court stated: The granting of the original restraining order does not confirm that this Court made a finding that every allegation made by [Martindale] was true, but that this court found a sufficient factual basis to determine that spousal abuse had occurred.” The “issue” decided in the prior proceeding was whether Martindale established a basis for issuance of a restraining order, not whether all the incidents to which she testified were true. View "Marriage of Martindale & Ochoa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the juvenile court's jurisdictional order asserting that the children fell under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b), but finding no substantial risk of serious harm to the children from the parents' actions. At the dispositional phase, the juvenile court returned the children to the custody of the parents, finding that the parents did not constitute "any kind of risk to the children." The court held that the juvenile court failed to make the findings required by statute finding that the children were at substantial risk of serious harm. View "In re Israel T." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In a child custody proceeding arising under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by granting mother's motion to quash temporary emergency orders on child custody and visitation. The trial court had found that a Belarus residency action was a child custody proceeding within the meaning of the UCCJEA, and the Belarus court had jurisdiction substantially in conformity with the UCCJEA. The court held that the UCCJEA mandates that before a child custody determination is made, notice and an opportunity to be heard must be given to all persons entitled to notice. In this case, father received no notice of the Belarus action, and notice was not given in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice. Therefore, the Belarus court did not have jurisdiction in conformity with UCCJEA standards. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "W.M. v. V.A." on Justia Law

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A jury awarded plaintiff-appellant Shirlean Warren $17,455.57 in damages pursuant to California's “lemon law.” In this appeal, Warren challenges her attorney fee award and her costs and expenses award. Warren claims the court abused its discretion in applying a 33% negative multiplier to her requested lodestar attorney fees. Warren argues that, by applying the negative multiplier, the court erroneously limited her attorney fee award to a proportion of her $17,455.57 damages award, and thus used a prohibited means of determining reasonable attorney fees. She also claimed she was entitled to recover prejudgment interest on her damages award and that the court erroneously struck the $5,882 expense for trial transcripts from her cost bill. The Court of Appeal concluded Warren did not show she was entitled to prejudgment interest on her jury award as a matter of right. Nor did Warren show the court abused its discretion in refusing to award any prejudgment interest. The Court agreed, however, that Warren was entitled to recover the $5,882 expense that her attorneys incurred for trial transcripts. View "Warren v. Kia Motors America, Inc." on Justia Law