Articles Posted in California Court of Appeal

by
Petitioner County of Riverside (the County) challenged Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) findings that the application for adjudication of claim by respondent Peter Sylves was timely filed, and that Labor Code section 5500.5(a) did not bar liability on the County’s part. Sylves was employed by the County as a deputy sheriff. He took a service retirement and then worked for the Pauma Police Department on a reservation belonging to the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians, a federally recognized tribe. Sylves’ employment with the Pauma Police Department lasted from 2010, through 2014. Sylves filed an application for adjudication of claim on July 16, 2014. He claimed a continuous trauma for “hypertension, GERDS [gastroesophageal reflux disease], left shoulder, low back and both knees.” In 2015, the WCJ found: “Pursuant to Labor Code section 5500.5, applicant’s continuous trauma is limited to the last year of injurious exposure, even if it is with the Pauma Tribal Police.” The WCJ found that Sylves’s knee and left shoulder injuries, his GERDS, and his sleep disorder were not compensable injuries arising in and out of employment. However, he also found that Sylves’ hypertension and back injury were compensable and arose from employment with the County. With respect to the statute of limitations, the WCAB explained that the time in which to file a claim did not begin to run until a doctor told him the symptoms for which he had been receiving treatment were industrially related; since medical confirmation did not occur until 2013, Sylves’ 2014 application was timely. The WCAB further found that section 5500.5 “is not a Statute of Limitations but provides for a supplemental proceeding in which multiple defendants have an opportunity to apportion liability.” Finally, it agreed with Sylves that section 5500.5 could not limit liability to the Pauma Police Department in this case because the WCAB lacked jurisdiction over the tribe. Essentially, the WCAB determined that the County “failed to meet its burden of proof on the Statute of Limitations defenses raised herein.” Finding no reversible error in the WCAB's decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Co. of Riverside v. WCAB" on Justia Law

by
Defendants-appellants City of Riverside (City) and Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz appealed the grant of a petition for writ of mandate filed by plaintiff-respondent Camillo Bonome, Jr. Bonome had been employed as a Riverside Police Officer since 1995. In 2013, a Memorandum of Finding was sustained against Bonome for failing to properly investigate and report an incident involving a sexually abused girl in 2012. Chief Diaz recommended Bonome be terminated. Prior to the hearing on his termination, Bonome applied for and was granted disability retirement by CalPERS for a back injury he sustained while on duty. Upon his disability retirement being effective, Bonome requested his retirement identification badge and that the badge include a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) endorsement. Bonome’s request was denied because Chief Diaz and the City did not consider him to be “honorably retired” as that term was defined in Penal Code section 16690. The City and Chief Diaz stated he was not entitled to a hearing to dispute the finding. Bonome filed the Writ contending he was honorably retired and entitled to a CCW endorsement, and if the endorsement was denied for cause, he was entitled to a good cause hearing. The trial court agreed and granted the Writ. On appeal, the City and Chief Diaz insisted the trial court erred when it determined Bonome was “honorably retired.” The Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s grant of the Writ. The City and Chief Diaz could deny the CCW endorsement for cause but Bonome was entitled to a good cause hearing if it was denied. View "Bonome v. City of Riverside" on Justia Law

by
The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeals’ review centered on the propriety of a discovery referee’s order imposing $100,000 in discovery sanctions against defendants Alieu B. M. Conteh (Conteh), Odessa Capital Inc., Dominique Financial, Ltd., OOA ONE, LLC, and OOA TWO, LLC (collectively, defendants), for failure to comply with a prior discovery order. Defendants contended the referee, stipulated to by the parties to rule on all discovery related matters, erred in imposing monetary sanctions due to both procedural and substantive defects. Among other things, they argued that defendants’ “substantial compliance” with the prior discovery order, combined with Conteh’s expressed willingness to sit for an additional deposition and produce additional documents, precluded the levying of any sanctions. They also claimed the amount of sanctions was unjustified. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeals concluded that the referee’s order, filed with the trial court, was appealable. In the unpublished portion, the Court addressed the merits of defendants’ appeal and rejected their challenges to the imposition and amount of monetary sanctions. Defendants conceded below that they failed to comply with the prior discovery order, and the referee did not abuse her discretion under the circumstances either in determining monetary sanctions were appropriate despite Conteh’s promises about his future actions, or in calculating the amount of appropriate sanctions. View "Lindsey v. Conteh" on Justia Law

by
Three health care workers sued their hospital employer in a putative class and private attorney general enforcement action for alleged Labor Code violations and related claims. In this appeal, their primary complaint was the hospital illegally allowed its health care employees to waive their second meal periods on shifts longer than 12 hours. A statute required two meal periods for shifts longer than 12 hours. But an order of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) authorized employees in the health care industry to waive one of those two required meal periods on shifts longer than 8 hours. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal’s review centered on the validity of the IWC order. In its first opinion in this case, the Court concluded the IWC order was partially invalid to the extent it authorized second meal break waivers on shifts over 12 hours, and the Court reversed. After the California Supreme Court granted the hospital’s petition for review in “Gerard I,” that court transferred the case back to the Court of Appeal with directions to vacate the decision and to reconsider the cause in light of the enactment of Statutes 2015, chapter 506 (Sen. Bill No. 327 (2015-2016 Reg. Sess.); SB 327). Upon reconsideration the Court of Appeal concluded the IWC order was valid and affirmed. View "Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center" on Justia Law

by
Richard Sheley (decedent) formed and operated a corporation, George's Pest Control, Inc. Cross-complainant/respondent Nancy Sheley, the decedent's wife at the time of his death, owned a 25 percent share in the corporation. After the decedent's death in 2011, cross-defendants/appellants Linda Harrop and Valerie Richard, decedent's daughters from a prior marriage, owned a 75 percent share in the corporation. After appellants assumed control, the corporation commenced an action against respondent. An amended complaint added appellants as plaintiffs. Respondent filed a cross-complaint against appellants. Appellants filed an anti-SLAPP special motion to strike the cross-complaint. The trial court granted the motion as to respondent's fourth cause of action, sounding in intentional infliction of emotional distress, but otherwise denied the motion. On appeal, appellants argued that the trial court erred in denying their special motion to strike the first, second, and third causes of action in respondent's cross-complaint because the alleged conduct arose out of their constitutional right to petition, and respondent could not establish a probability of prevailing on the merits. Alternatively, appellants contended the trial court should have granted their motion as to the specific allegations involving protected activity in the first, second, and third causes of action. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded that some of respondent's allegations in the remaining three causes of action arose out of protected activity. Furthermore, the Court concluded that, as to those particular allegations which were based on protected activity, respondent failed to establish that the claims were legally sufficient and factually substantiated. Therefore, the Court modified the trial court's order by granting appellants' motion to strike the specific claims founded on allegations of protected activity in each remaining cause of action in the cross-complaint. View "Sheley v. Harrop" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff-appellant Residents Against Specific Plan 380 appealed the denial of its petition for a writ of mandate to challenge the County of Riverside’s (County) to approve development of a master-planned community put forward as Specific Plan 380 by real party in interest, Hanna Marital Trust. The County commissioned an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project, which determined all potentially significant environmental impacts except noise and air quality impacts would have been reduced below the level of significance after mitigation. The final EIR responded to public comments on a draft EIR requesting further mitigation before the County approved the project. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors requested modifications of the plan before approving it and determined the changes did not require revision and recirculation of the EIR. After the revisions were codified, the Board of Supervisors certified the final EIR and approved the plan. The County then posted a public notice of its determination which included a description of the project containing errors about certain project details. Appellant sought a writ of mandate asserting the County failed to comply with procedural, informational, and substantive provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The trial court denied the petition in its entirety and entered judgment in favor of the County and the Hanna Marital Trust. On appeal, appellant argued the County: (1) substantially modified the project after approving it; (2) approved the project without concurrently adopting findings, a statement of overriding consideration, and a mitigation plan; (3) failed to recirculate the final EIR after modifying the project; (4) certified the final EIR despite inadequately analyzing the impacts of the development of the mixed use planning area; (5) issued an erroneous and misleading notice of determination after approving the project; and (6) failed to adopt all feasible mitigation alternatives proposed in comments on the draft EIR. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Residents Against Specific Plan 380 v. Co. of Riverside" on Justia Law

by
John Jarman (later represented by his daughter, Janice Jarman, as successor in interest), sued HCR ManorCare, Inc., and Manor Care of Hemet, CA, LLC, (collectively, "Manor Care"), which owned and operated a nursing home facility in Hemet. Jarman was a patient at the facility for three months in 2008, and alleged claims for violations of patient’s rights pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 1430, elder abuse, and negligence, all arising out of the care he received at the nursing home. The jury returned a special verdict finding Manor Care committed 382 violations of Jarman’s rights, and that its conduct was negligent. The jury awarded Jarman statutory and damages caused by the negligence. The jury also made a finding that Manor Care had acted with malice, oppression or fraud. However, the trial court granted Manor Care’s oral motion to strike the punitive damage claim, agreeing with Manor Care that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding of malice, oppression or fraud. The trial court ultimately entered judgment against Manor Care in the amount of $195,500, and awarded Jarman $368,755 in attorney fees. Jarman appealed the portion of the judgment denying him punitive damages, arguing the trial court erred by striking the jury’s finding Manor Care acted with malice, oppression or fraud. The Court of Appeal agreed the court erred in that respect and reversed the punitive damages judgment by the trial court. For its part, Manor Care argued on appeal that: (1) the trial court erred by allowing the jury to award Jarman a separate measure of statutory damages under section 1430 for each of the 382 violations of his rights found by the jury; (2) the statutory damage award must be reversed in its entirety against HCR, because Jarman did not allege HCR engaged in conduct that violated his rights and because HCR was not a “licensee” subject to liability under section 1430; (3) the statutory damage award should have been reversed against both HCR and Hemet because the special verdict on the statutory claim made inconsistent references to each of them, and was thus insufficient to support a judgment against either; (4) the negligence verdict could not stand against HCR because the special verdict on negligence omitted any finding of causation against HCR specifically, and that it cannot stand against either HCR or Hemet because the damages awarded were inherently speculative; and (5) any reversal of the judgment which favors it will also necessitate a reversal and remand of the attorney fees award. Finding no reversible error with respect to Manor Care's arguments, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Jarman v. HCR ManorCare" on Justia Law

by
The San Francisco County Human Services Agency filed a Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition on behalf of the Minor. At an initial detention hearing, Father appeared. The court appointed counsel. Counsel asked to set the matter for a contested detention hearing but explained she could not proceed immediately because her witnesses were not available and because she was in trial in another department. After a discussion about a continuance, the court found there had been a prima facie showing there was a substantial danger to Minor’s physical and emotional well-being and there were no reasonable means by which Minor’s physical and emotional safety could be safeguarded without removing Minor from Father’s custody. The court ordered Minor temporarily detained and approved Minor’s placement with his mother. Father’s counsel filed a declaration and disqualification motion, which the court found untimely because the court had “made substantive rulings on the detention.” Father sought review of the denial of his disqualification motion. The court of appeal granted the petition, finding that the court’s rulings did not preclude Father from making his Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6 challenge because they did not “involv[e] a determination of contested fact issues related to the merits.” View "Johnny W. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
At issue in this case was whether Gateway Community Charters (Gateway), a nonprofit public benefit corporation that operated charter schools, was an “other municipal corporation” for purposes of Labor Code section 220, subdivision (b), thereby exempting it from assessment of waiting time penalties described in section 203. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded it was not; therefore, it affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Gateway Community Charters v. Spiess" on Justia Law

by
Former counsel moved to withdraw from representing a client, alleging another attorney had agreed to handle (and was already handling) postjudgment motions, and that the other attorney would also handle the appeal of an adverse judgment. The client sued former counsel for malpractice more than one year after the motion to withdraw was made, but less than one year after the motion was granted. The question this case presented for the Court of Appeal's review was whether the trial court properly granted summary judgment to former counsel based on the one-year statute of limitation provided by Code of Civil Procedure section 340.61 on the ground that the client could not have had an objectively reasonable expectation that former counsel was continuing to represent him after the motion to withdraw had been served. The Court concluded the trial court was correct in granting summary judgment. "Once the former counsel told the client, via the motion to withdraw, that the case had already been handed off to another attorney, the client was on notice that former counsel was no longer working for him. . . . because this lawsuit was filed more than one year after that time, no triable issue of fact remains as to the statute of limitation defense." View "Flake v. Neumiller & Beardslee" on Justia Law