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ABM, a facility services company with employees throughout the U.S., has thousands of janitorial workers at hundreds of California job sites. Plaintiffs, present or former ABM employees, on behalf of themselves and similarly situated Californians, filed suit in 2007, alleging that ABM violated California labor laws by failing to properly record and compensate employees for meal breaks; requiring employees to work split shifts without appropriate compensation; and failing to ensure that employees were reimbursed for expenses incurred when traveling between work sites. In 2010, plaintiffs moved for class certification of a general class of ABM workers and subclasses of such workers who had been subjected to particular violations. The court found plaintiffs’ expert evidence inadmissible, denied the class certification motion, and denied plaintiffs’ motion under Code of Civil Procedure 473(b), to supplement the evidence concerning the expert's qualifications. The court of appeal reversed, concluding that materials submitted before the class certification hearing were sufficient to qualify plaintiffs’ expert in database management and analysis; it was error for the court to completely disregard plaintiffs’ proffered expert evidence of common practice, rather than accepting it for what it was and weighing it against any individualized inquiries that might properly have defeated plaintiffs’ request for class certification. The proposed classes were ascertainable and plaintiffs’ allegations presented predominantly common questions. View "ABM Industries Overtime Cases" on Justia Law

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Jackie Robinson, a patient and detainee at DSH-C, petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus seeking the return of confiscated items, as well as compensation for any lost or destroyed property. The items at issue included a portable hard drive, PlayStation Portable gaming device, and memory cards. The Court of Appeal held that substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that the contested items were contraband. In the absence of authority showing civil detainees were entitled to the return of their confiscated property, the court rejected Robinson's assertion that he was entitled to the return of his property. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court's decision declining Robinson's request for the return of the items. View "In re Robinson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed a two-year restraining order against Jonathan V, because he did not receive adequate notice of or a hearing on the People's application for the restraining order. In this juvenile case, defense counsel walked into court for a trial setting conference and was given "notice" by the prosecutor that the People were going to seek a two-year restraining order against her client, Jonathan V. Jonathan V. did not receive adequate notice or an adequate opportunity to be heard to contest the issuance of the order. View "In re Jonathan V." on Justia Law

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Fong, born in China in 1931, moved to San Francisco as a young man and became a real estate investor. Fong had a banking relationship with the Bank, where he had more than $3.5 million dollars on deposit. Loans involving the Bank, Fong, and UTGI, a California corporation formed by young investors who were family friends of Fong, whom Fong was assisting in establishing a real estate investment business, were not timely paid. The Bank liquidated assets Fong had pledged as collateral. In a suit claiming conversion and financial abuse of an elder under Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.30, Fong alleged that he did not understand certain documents and that documents were forged. The trial court granted the Bank summary judgment and determined that as the “prevailing party” the Bank was “entitled to its reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs,” of $202,069.75 and $6,290.05. The court of appeal reversed finding a triable issue of material fact regarding the genuineness of Fong’s signature on the documents authorizing repayment of a loan with respect to one of Fong’s conversion claims. View "Fong v. East West Bank" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking

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A group of doctors sued the hospital, alleging unfair business practices and interference, specifying that the action was not based on any “wrongs or facts arising from any peer review activities.” The complaint was conclusory in nature, with little factual support and ultimately did not withstand demurrer. Disregarding the express pleading, the hospital filed a special motion to strike (Code of Civil Procedure, 425.16, “anti-SLAPP motion”), contending that while plaintiffs did not state a claim, to the extent it could state a claim, it had to be based on peer review—a protected activity. The hospital also filed a demurrer, which was stipulated to while the SLAPP motion was pending. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the SLAPP motion, stating: A losing defendant’s right to appeal is the aspect of the Anti-SLAPP Statute most subject to abuse,” and noting the “inordinate delay” and “unnecessary legal fees.” In this case, the original suit was not based on a protected activity. View "Central Valley Hospitalists v. Dignity Health" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiffs Clews Land and Livestock, LLC; Barbara Clews; and Christian Clews (collectively, CLL) appealed a judgment in favor of defendant City of San Diego (City) on CLL's petition for writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, violation of procedural due process, and equitable estoppel. CLL challenged the City's approval of a project to build a private secondary school on land neighboring CLL's commercial horse ranch and equestrian facility and the City's adoption of a mitigated negative declaration (MND) regarding the project. CLL contended the City should not have adopted the MND because the Cal Coast Academy project would cause significant environmental impacts in the areas of fire hazards, traffic and transportation, noise, recreation, and historical resources, and because the MND identified new impacts and mitigation measures that were not included in the draft MND. CLL further argued the City should not have approved the project because it is situated in designated open space under the applicable community land use plan and because the City did not follow the provisions of the San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC) applicable to historical resources. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded CLL's challenge to the MND was barred because it did not exhaust its administrative remedies in proceedings before the City. In doing so, the Court rejected CLL's argument that the City's process for administrative appeals (at least as implicated by this project) violated the California Environmental Quality Act by improperly splitting the adoption of an environmental document (e.g., the MND) from the project approvals. In addition, the City complied with all applicable requirements of the SDMC regarding historical resources and the City's approval of the project did not conflict with the open space designation because the project would be located on already-developed land. View "Clews Land & Livestock, LLC v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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In 1998, Modesto, its Sewer District, and its Redevelopment Agency (RDA) sued retail dry cleaning businesses operating in Modesto, the manufacturers of dry cleaning equipment used at those establishments, and the manufacturers and distributors of dry cleaning solvent, alleging that the city’s groundwater, sewer system and easements, and the soil of property within the RDA project area were contaminated with perchloroethylene, a “toxic chlorinated solvent” and seeking recovery for past, present and future costs of investigation and remediation. The Polanco Redevelopment Act (Health & Saf. Code, 33459), which authorized redevelopment agencies to remediate contamination found in property, including private property, located in a redevelopment project area, and to recover costs from the “responsible parties” was central to the suit. After 14 years of litigation, with three appeals, a final judgment awarded damages with respect to three dry cleaning sites, including an award of punitive damages against three defendants; as to all other claims, judgment was entered in favor of defendants. The court of appeal vacated, holding that no special causation standard applies to Polanco Act claims. The court also: remanded with directions to deny motions for summary adjudication on the nuisance claims; reversed a punitive damages award; and vacated a directed verdict regarding property damage. View "City of Modesto v. Dow Chemical Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendant, the killer of their daughter, seeking vindication for the 31-year-old murder. Defendant moved to dismiss the case on the basis that the lawsuit had been filed before, not after, her conviction and hence could not fall within Civil Procedure section 340.3, subdivision (a)’s authorization. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of defendant's motion and judgment in favor of plaintiffs, holding that defendant waived prematurity by not timely raising it; any prematurity was cured by the time defendant raised the issue in her motion to dismiss; and by law, the equities supported disregarding defendant's prematurity plea in abatement. View "Rasmussen v. Lazarus" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Governor Brown—faced with a statewide crisis involving the significant underfunding of public pension systems—signed into law the Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) in an attempt to curb what were seen as pervasive abuses in public pension systems, including those governed by the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL), Gov. Code 31450. Public employees and public employee organizations in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Merced Counties challenged the constitutionality of PEPRA as applied to certain CERL plan members who were hired before PEPRA’s effective date (legacy members). The court of appeal rejected an argument that the pension boards possess the ability to include additional pay items in compensation earnable, unmoored by the language of CERL, then remanded for determinations of the reasonableness of PEPRA’s detrimental changes when applied to the vested rights of legacy members. The court examined statutory amendments with respect to in-service leave cash-outs; express exclusion of so-called terminal pay from compensation earnable; express exclusion or payments for additional services rendered outside of normal working hours, whether paid in a lump sum or otherwise, from compensation earnable; and exclusion from compensation earnable “[a]ny compensation determined by the board to have been paid to enhance a member’s retirement benefit.” View "Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Association. v. Alameda County Employees Retirement Association" on Justia Law

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Burkhalter Kessler Clement & George LLP (Burkhalter) subleased a portion of its office space to the Eclipse Group LLP (Eclipse). The sublease contract had a provision for an award of reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in the event of a lawsuit. Burkhalter later filed a complaint against Eclipse alleging breach of contract; Burkhalter also named Jennifer Hamilton, a managing partner of Eclipse, as an alter ego defendant. The two defendants were jointly represented by Avyno Law P.C. (Avyno). Burkhalter prevailed against Eclipse on the breach of contract claim; Hamilton prevailed against Burkhalter on the alter ego theory (she was dismissed with prejudice). The trial court granted Burkhalter’s motion for its attorney fees, but denied Hamilton’s motion for her attorney fees. There was no explanation for the court’s denial. Hamilton appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed: here, both Burkhalter and Hamilton were prevailing parties on the contract. On remand, the trial court was directed to award Hamilton reasonable attorney fees that were incurred by Avyno solely in her defense, subject to the court’s sound discretion. View "Burkhalter Kessler Clement & George, LLP v. Hamilton" on Justia Law