Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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R.B. (father) and D.R. (mother) were citizens of India who were married in India. They came to California, where they had their only child, a daughter, born in October 2013. In December 2016, the father allegedly slapped the child and hit the mother. In February 2017, the mother discovered that the father was involved with another woman. She immediately left for India with the child. In 2017, the mother obtained a restraining order in India giving her sole custody of the child. Shortly thereafter, the father obtained an ex parte order (later stayed) in California giving him sole custody of the child. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court ruled that it had jurisdiction, but that India was a more appropriate forum. It therefore stayed the California proceeding. The father appealed, contending the trial court erred by finding that India was a more appropriate forum, because: (1) India did not have concurrent jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA); and (2) the trial court misevaluated the statutorily relevant factors. In the published portion of its opinion, the California Court of Appeal held India could be an inconvenient forum even if it did not have concurrent jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. In the nonpublished portion, the Court found no other error. Hence, the Court affirmed. View "R.B. v. D.R." on Justia Law

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The appeal presented to the Court of Appeal here was one in a certified wage and hour class action following a judgment after a bench trial in favor of defendants Certified Tire and Services Centers, Inc. (Certified Tire) and Barrett Business Services. Inc. (collectively, defendants). Plaintiffs contended Certified Tire violated the applicable minimum wage and rest period requirements by implementing a compensation program, which guaranteed its automotive technicians a specific hourly wage above the minimum wage for all hours worked during each pay period but also gave them the possibility of earning a higher hourly wage for all hours worked during each pay period based on certain productivity measures. The Court of Appeal concluded plaintiffs' arguments lacked merit, and accordingly affirmed the judgment. View "Certified Tire and Service Centers Wage and Hour Cases" on Justia Law

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Tri Palms Unified Owners Association (the Association) was a group of homeowners in the Tri-Palms Estates. There was a recreation facility adjacent to the Tri-Palms Estates, and homeowners paid a fee for that recreation facility. In 2014, in bankruptcy proceedings, Kort & Scott Financial Group, LLC (K&S) was the successful bidder on the recreation facility. The Association entered into a settlement agreement with K&S. As a result of the Agreement, some members of the Association were required to pay an increased fee for the recreation facility. In 2016, Alex Cheveldave and Richard Davis, who were members of the Association, sued the Association, K&S, and Shenandoah Ventures, L.P., arguing that the Association did not have standing to enter into the Agreement. The Association filed an anti-SLAPP motion which the trial court granted. Cheveldave argued on appeal of that judgment the trial court erred by granting the anti-SLAPP motion. After review of the trial court record, the Court of Appeal determined Cheveldave established his case had "minimal merit," and the trial court erred by granting the anti-SLAPP motion. View "Cheveldave v. Tri Palms Unified Owners Assn." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Samantha Martinez sued defendant Eatlite One, Inc., for employment discrimination among other things. A jury found in favor of plaintiff on all of her claims and awarded $11,490 in damages. After the court entered judgment, both parties submitted competing memoranda of costs, and plaintiff filed a motion for attorney fees. The court awarded costs and attorney fees to plaintiff. Defendant contended the trial court erred because plaintiff did not obtain a judgment more favorable than defendant’s offer to compromise under Code of Civil Procedure section 998. The Court of Appeal agreed and reversed portions of the postjudgment orders awarding post-offer costs and attorney fees to plaintiff. View "Martinez v. Eatlite One, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2011, Pipkin was sentenced to state prison for two years after his probation was revoked with respect to a 2009 felony grand theft conviction. As a condition of parole with respect to this qualifying offense, Pipkin was committed to Atascadero State Hospital in October 2011, for treatment as a mentally disordered offender (MDO), Penal Code section 2962. Before Pipkin’s release from parole, the District Attorney filed a successful section 2970 petition seeking Pipkin’s continued commitment as an MDO for an additional year. In May 2015, the District Attorney filed a recommitment petition for the one-year period beginning October 13, 2015. However, in August 2015, Pipkin’s qualifying conviction for grand theft was reduced to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47, so Pipkin moved to dismiss the pending recommitment petition, arguing that further commitment as an MDO was not authorized because his qualifying conviction must now be treated as a misdemeanor “for all purposes.” (Penal Code 1170.18(k)). The trial court, in March 2016, denied Pipkin’s motion and granted the recommitment petition. After Pipkin’s MDO commitment expired in October 2016, no further petition for recommitment was filed. The court of appeal dismissed his appeal because Pipkin is no longer subject to civil commitment. View "People v. Pipkin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-respondent San Diego Unified Port District (District) unsuccessfully asked defendant-appellant California Coastal Commission (Commission) to certify an amendment of District's port master plan to authorize hotel development in the East Harbor Island subarea, including construction of a 175-room hotel by real party in interest Sunroad Marina Partners, LP (Sunroad). District filed a petition for peremptory writ of mandate challenging Commission's denial of certification, and the trial court in January 2017 issued the writ, finding Commission violated provisions of the California Coastal Act of 1976 and "impermissibly set policy" by setting a maximum rental rate or fixing room rental rates. Commission did not appeal that ruling, but reheard District's application and again denied certification, finding the master plan amendment lacked sufficient specificity to adequately protect lower cost visitor and public recreational opportunities, including overnight accommodations. On objections by District and Sunroad, the trial court in August 2017 ruled that Commission had essentially conditioned its certification on the provision of lower cost overnight accommodations, which "infring[ed] on the wide discretion afforded to the District to determine the contents of land use plans and how to implement those plans." The court ruled that Commission acted in excess of its jurisdiction and did not proceed in the manner required by law. Commission appealed the August 2017 postjudgment order, contending it complied with the writ, but afterwards, in the face of Port's and Sunroad's objections, the trial court expanded the writ's scope, thereby exceeding its jurisdiction. Commission asked the Court of Appeal to find it complied with the writ as issued, reverse the order sustaining District and Sunroad's objection, and direct the trial court to discharge the writ. Furthermore, the Commission contended it properly denied District's proposed amendment on remand. The Court of Appeal narrowly reviewed the correctness of the trial court's postjudgment ruling that Commission exceeded its jurisdiction or acted contrary to law in denying certification of District's proposed master plan amendment. Doing so, the Court held the trial court erred by relying in part on provisions of the Act governing a local government's authority and imposing limits on Commission's jurisdiction with respect to local coastal programs, which did not pertain to port master plans or master plan amendments. Furthermore, the Court concluded the lower court engaged in an impermissibly broad interpretation of a provision of the Act barring Commission from modifying a master plan amendment as a condition of certification. View "San Diego Unified Port Dist. v. Cal. Coastal Commission" on Justia Law

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Defendant-respondent YMCA of San Diego County had a number of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) on its premises, for the emergency use of its members, employees and users of the premises. Plaintiffs-appellants were the Jabo family, whose 43-year-old husband and father, Adeal Jabo (Jabo) died of sudden cardiac arrest after playing soccer at an enclosed East County field owned by Respondent and regularly rented to a private organization of which Jabo was a member, the Over 40 Chaldean Soccer League of San Diego (the League). At issue before the Court of Appeal was whether additional statutory or common law duties were owed by Respondent to ensure that its trained staff members utilize and apply AEDs under circumstances in which an adult is having an on-site medical emergency that appears to be sudden cardiac arrest, while the adult was a permissive user of the facility whose group rented an outdoor portion of Respondent's soccer field. Appellants' filed a wrongful death complaint against Respondent, they seek damages on theories of ordinary and gross negligence arising from alleged violations of statutory and common law duties, based on Jabo's status as a League member using the facility's field. Appellants alleged that although one of Respondent's part-time employees was assigned to serve as scorekeeper for the League's games that evening, he was away from the field at the moment that Jabo collapsed and did not bring one of the five AED devices it had acquired to the field. Respondent did not dispute that for its own scheduled events, its policy was to have one of its staff members check out and bring an AED to the field. The trial court ultimately granted a defense summary judgment on the complaint, finding that Appellants could not establish an essential element of duty. The court dismissed Respondent's cross-complaint, finding that the release was unenforceable. The Court of Appeal determined the trial court correctly declined to impose an additional common law duty of care and affirmed summary judgment. View "Jabo v. YMCA of San Diego Co." on Justia Law

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Paolo Pedrazzani was the owner, president, secretary, and director of Pama, Inc. which did business as Via Italia Trattoria (Via Italia), a restaurant in Encinitas. During the time period for which the trial court awarded the civil penalties at issue, Pama employed 71 individuals at Via Italia. Labor Code section 558 (a) provided that an employer "or other person acting on behalf of an employer" who violates or causes a violation of the state's applicable overtime laws shall be subject to a civil penalty. Similarly, section 1197.1 (a) provided that an employer "or other person acting either individually or as an officer, agent, or employee of another person" who pays or causes to pay an employee less than the state's applicable minimum wage shall be subject to a civil penalty. Following a trial, the superior court issued civil penalties against Pedrazzani as the corporate employer's owner as the "other person" who caused violations of these two statutes. The issue on appeal was whether any individual other than the corporate employer can ever be found liable for the civil penalties associated with statutory violations in the payment of wages to a corporate employee where, as here, there is no allegation or finding that the corporate laws have been misused or abused for a wrongful or inequitable purpose. The Court of Appeal modified judgment against Pedrazzani to the extend that civil penalties assessed were not distributed in accordance with the applicable statutory scheme; otherwise, the judgment was affirmed. View "Atempa v. Pedrazzani" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-appellants The Inland Oversight Committee (IOC), CREED-21, and Highland Hills Homeowners Association (HOA) filed the underlying lawsuit in 2015, contending that proposed changes to a Highland Hills development project violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and certain provisions of the Water Code. Real party in interest and respondent First American Title Insurance Company (First American) was the developer that proposed the changes at issue. Defendant-respondent City of San Bernardino (the City) approved the changes under an expedited procedure for minor modifications. The expedited procedure was incorporated into a stipulated judgment in a previous lawsuit regarding the development brought by HOA against the City and the former developer (First American’s predecessor in interest) concerning the development. This case was the second appeal regarding the same proposed changes. In a related but separate lawsuit, HOA challenged the trial court’s order confirming that the proposed changes constituted minor modifications appropriately approved under the above-mentioned expedited procedure. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order. Now in this case, plaintiffs appealed judgment entered against them after the trial court sustained without leave to amend the City’s and First American’s demurrer to plaintiffs’ first amended petition for writ of mandate and complaint. Applying the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel, the trial court found that plaintiffs’ CEQA claims were barred by the preclusive effect of HOA’s previous lawsuit, and that judicially noticeable documents showed the City did not violate the Water Code. Finding no reversible error to that judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. View "The Inland Oversight Committee v. City of San Bernardino" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Sarah Sumner was the dean of A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary (Tozer Seminary), part of defendant Simpson University in Redding, California. Although Sumner had a written employment agreement, her employment was terminated by Robin Dummer in his capacity as acting provost of the university on the ground Sumner was insubordinate. In response to Sumner’s complaint alleging breach of contract, defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground Sumner’s employment was within the ministerial exception, an affirmative defense, and that as a result judicial review of her employment-related dispute was precluded by the First Amendment. The trial court agreed, and granted summary judgment. Sumner argues the ministerial exception was not applicable because she was not a minister, and the facts were in dispute as to whether Simpson University was a religious organization. She argues that even assuming the ministerial exception is applicable, it did not preclude enforcement of her contract and tort claims. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court correctly concluded that Simpson University was a religious organization and that Sumner was a minister for purposes of the ministerial exception, but that her contract cause of action was not foreclosed by the ministerial exception. Defendants failed to show that resolution of Sumner’s contract claim would excessively entangle the court in religious matters. However, her tort causes of action were part and parcel of the actions involved in her termination, and were therefore barred by the ministerial exception. View "Sumner v. Simpson University" on Justia Law