Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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Defendant appealed a restitution order imposed in connection with his conviction for battery with serious bodily injury. The trial court ordered Defendant to pay restitution to the victim, L.W., including for various expenses she incurred in relocating away from her home where the assault took place. Defendant argues the restitution order here violates section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) because there was no verification by law enforcement or a mental health treatment provider supporting the necessity of L.W.’s relocation costs.   The Second Appellate District agreed with Defendant and reversed the order of restitution insofar as it included relocation expenses. The court explained that relocating away from Defendant and relocating to prevent Defendant from finding the victim again are two ways of saying the same thing, section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) applies regardless of which descriptor is used. To read the first sentence of section 1202.4, subdivision (f) as permitting imposition of moving-related costs for relocating away from Defendant without giving force to the verification requirement set forth in section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) renders section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) surplusage and a nullity. Section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) is undoubtedly an example of expenses subject to restitution, but when the facts fit the example set forth in section 1202.4(f)(3)(I), compliance with its terms is required. The court reasoned that did not occur here, and thus the failure to comply with this statutory requirement mandates reversal. View "P. v. Baudoin" on Justia Law

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Blizzard Energy, Inc., appeals from an order denying its motion to declare Respondent a vexatious litigant and prohibit him “from filing any new litigation in propria persona in the California courts without first obtaining leave of the presiding judge of the court in which the litigation is proposed to be filed.”   The Second Appellate District reversed the order because the order was based on the trial court’s erroneous interpretation of section 391, subdivision (b)(1). The court explained that the trial court concluded that the statute does not apply to prior litigation commenced by the filing of a cross-complaint. However, the court held it does apply. Further, the court wrote that Appellant’s motion was authorized by section 391.7, subdivision (a), which provides: “[T]he court may, on its own motion or the motion of any party, enter a prefiling order which prohibits a vexatious litigant from filing any new litigation in the courts of this state in propria persona without first obtaining leave of the presiding justice or presiding judge of the court where the litigation is proposed to be filed. Disobedience of the order by a vexatious litigant may be punished as contempt of court.” View "Blizzard Energy v. Schaefers" on Justia Law

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Dr. Frank Coufal and his solely owned professional corporation, La Jolla Neurological Associates (LJNA), hired an unaffiliated, third-party billing service to collect payments from patients and their insurers. Raquel Olson, the widow of a former patient, sued the doctor and his corporation (but not the third-party billing service) for unlawful debt collection under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. According to the complaint, Dr. Coufal and LJNA violated the Rosenthal Act by sending multiple bills and making incessant phone calls seeking payment for neurological services Dr. Coufal had provided to Olson’s husband before he died, even though Olson directed them to stop contacting her and to seek payment through Medicare and the VA Medical Center. Olson’s complaint did not mention any third-party debt billing service or debt collector and did not allege that Dr. Coufal or LJNA were vicariously liable for the actions of any such third party. The trial court granted a defense motion for summary judgment on the ground that the doctor and his medical corporation were not “debt collectors” within the meaning of the Rosenthal Act. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Olson v. La Jolla Neurological Associates" on Justia Law

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Appellants Balubhai Patel, DTWO & E, Inc. (DTWO), and Stuart Union, LLC (Stuart Union) (collectively, appellants) have been before this court numerous times in connection with a labor dispute with a former employee, Defendant, that resulted in two California Labor Commissioner orders (ODAs) in Defendant’s favor. The instant appeal challenges a superior court order forfeiting a bond Appellants had posted in an unsuccessful attempt to challenge the ODAs, as well as a judgment against them as bond principals.   The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that the only bonds Appellants posted here were for the exact amount owed under the ODAs— not double or one and one-half times that amount. Thus, aside from the fact that, when Appellants posted the bonds, Appellants identified the bonds as undertakings related to their attempted section 98.2 appeal to the trial court, not an appeal with this court, the bonds were insufficient to stay the actions below based on the pendency of any appeal with this court. The trial court, therefore, did not lack jurisdiction based on the pendency of related appeals in this court.   Further, the court held that Appellants’ jurisdictional arguments misunderstand the relationship between bonds issued pursuant to section 98.2 and jurisdiction. The statute expressly contemplates a situation in which an attempted section 98.2 appeal has failed without there necessarily having been an adjudication on the merits or jurisdiction to hear a section 98.2 appeal, and the court is not only empowered but required to satisfy the relevant ODA from a bond posted under such circumstances. View "Patel v. Chavez" on Justia Law

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Timothy W. and Julie W. were in the midst of a dissolution of their marriage. The underlying dispute here relates to Julie’s disclosure of certain facts about Timothy’s past (the sensitive information) that Julie revealed to her codefendant and private investigator, Ronnie Echavarria, Sr. (Echavarria), in connection with the dissolution case. Echavarria revealed the sensitive information to at least one other person, which resulted in several other individuals learning the information. Timothy filed a civil case against Julie and Echavarria (defendants), alleging 12 separate causes of action, many of which were duplicative or not properly pleaded as separate claims. Defendants moved pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (the anti-SLAPP statute) to dismiss. The trial court granted the motions as to 10 of the 12 causes of action, all based in tort, and denied the motion as to two contract-based claims. Timothy appealed, arguing the court erred by granting the motion. Julie cross-appealed, arguing the remaining two causes of action should also have been dismissed. The Court of Appeal concluded that Timothy’s claims directly arose from the dissolution case, and that all of the claims were barred by the litigation privilege. His contract claims were barred on several additional grounds. Accordingly, the Court found that the trial court properly granted defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion as to the tort claims and incorrectly denied it as to the two breach of contract claims. View "Timothy W. v. Julie W." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was severely injured when he fell from a significant height while working as a carpenter at a construction site. Plaintiff alleged that he fell from defective scaffolding, and he sued the general contractor and the scaffolding subcontractor for negligence.The trial court granted summary judgment for the general contractor, finding that Plaintiff’s claims against it were barred by exceptions to the peculiar risk doctrine articulated by the California Supreme Court in Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689 ("Privette") and subsequent case law.The Second Appellate District reversed, finding that, while Privette and subsequent cases held that a general contractor cannot be vicariously liable for the negligence of its subcontractors, Plaintiff’s claim against the general contractor alleged direct, not vicarious, liability. Further, the court determined that there were triable issues of material fact as to whether the general contractor fully delegated to the scaffolding subcontractor the duty to maintain the scaffolding in a safe condition. View "Brown v. Beach House Design & Development" on Justia Law

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Several FVF ("the Defendant") employees filed a class action lawsuit against the Defendant alleging, among other things, that the company did not pay minimum and overtime wages. They also alleged a cause of action under the Private Attorney Generals Act ("PAGA") for civil penalties “for themselves and other current and former employees” for “labor law violations.” Defendant sought to compel arbitration based on agreements each of the employees had signed.In response, the employees claimed they did not recognize the purported arbitration agreement or the signatures on them. Moreover, the agreement presented by FVF contained unconscionable provisions. The trial court found that FVF did not prove the employees entered into a valid arbitration agreement.On appeal, the Second Appellate District affirmed, finding that, while employment agreements that compel the waiver of representative claims under the Private Attorney Generals Act are no longer generally contrary to public policy, the agreement in this case was unconscionable. View "Navas v. Fresh Venture Foods, LLC" on Justia Law

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In May 2010, the original plaintiffs to this matter (plaintiffs) obtained a money judgment in Nevada state court against four defendants, including respondent Tiger Mynarcik (Mynarcik). In November 2010, the Sacramento County Superior Court granted plaintiffs’ application to domesticate the Nevada judgment in California, the state in which one of Mynarcik’s codefendant’s was last known to reside. The Nevada judgment expired by operation of law in 2016, while the sister-state judgment issued in California remained in effect. In May 2020, plaintiffs assigned the California judgment to appellant WV 23 Jumpstart, LLC (Jumpstart). Two months later, Jumpstart renewed the California judgment and then applied to domesticate the renewed judgment back in Nevada, an action which Mynarcik challenged. In response, the Nevada court instructed Jumpstart to seek an order from the California courts regarding the validity of the renewed California judgment. In subsequent proceedings, the Sacramento County Superior Court granted a motion by Mynarcik to quash entry of the renewed sister-state judgment for lack of personal jurisdiction over him. On appeal, Jumpstart argued the trial court erred in concluding that where a judgment creditor seeks to register a sister-state judgment in California, the judgment debtor must have “minimum contacts” with California. The Court of Appeal agreed with Jumpstart and therefore reversed the trial court’s order. View "WV 23 Jumpstart, LLC v. Mynarcik" on Justia Law

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A qui tam plaintiff alleged that two banks violated the California False Claims Act (CFCA) by failing to report and deliver millions of dollars owing on unclaimed cashier’s checks to the State of California as escheated property. The trial court denied the banks’ motions to dismiss. The banks sought writ relief.The court of appeal denied relief, upholding the denial of the motions to dismiss. The court rejected the banks’ argument that a qui tam plaintiff may not pursue a CFCA action predicated on a failure to report and deliver escheated property unless the California State Controller first provides appropriate notice to the banks under Code of Civil Procedure section 1576. For pleading purposes, the complaints adequately allege the existence of an obligation as required under the CFCA: the plaintiff adequately alleged that the banks were obligated to report and deliver to California the money owed on unredeemed cashier’s checks, Allowing this action to proceed does not violate the banks’ due process rights. View "JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned a particular rate known as a “base rate,” which State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund) used to calculate premiums for its insureds. California Insurance Code section 11664(e)(6)(A) stated: “[i]f the premium rate in the governing classification for the insured is to be increased 25 percent or greater and the insurer intends to renew the policy, the insurer shall provide a written notice of a renewal offer not less than 30 days prior to the policy renewal date.” In a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeal found State Fund was not obligated to provide notice to cross-complainant Cover Right Roofing (Cover Right) under this statute. The increase at issue was not due to any change in the premium rate of Cover Right’s governing classification. Rather, a third party changed the applicable governing classification criteria, which caused Cover Right to be assigned a new governing classification with a higher premium rate. The statute did not require notice in such circumstances. Thus, the Court found the trial court correctly granted State Fund’s motion for summary judgment and affirm the judgment. View "Cover Right Roofing, Inc. v. State Compensation Ins. Fund" on Justia Law