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McIntyre’s Civil Alert. Organized Succinct Summaries

U.S. SUPERME COURT

Employment
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie and Fitch Stores, Inc. _ U.S. _ (2015), 2015 WL 2464053: The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ summary judgment for defendant. Regardless of whether an applicant informs the potential employer of a need for an accommodation, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits a prospective employer from refusing to hire an applicant in order to avoid accommodating a religious practice that it could accommodate without undue hardship. (June 1, 2015.)

9th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

Class Actions
Allen v. Bedolla, _ F.3d _ (9th Cir. 2015), 2015 WL 3461537: The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s approval of a class action settlement, between day laborers and Labor Ready Southwest, Inc., that was negotiated in the absence of a certified class. The district court properly denied a motion to intervene by objectors to the settlement. The settlement approval was reversed because the district court failed to show that it had explored comprehensively all factors and did not give a reasoned response to all non-frivolous objections. Because the settlement was negotiated absent class certification, the procedural burden was even more strict because such agreements must withstand an even higher level of scrutiny for evidence of collusion or other conflicts of interest than is ordinarily required under Rule 23(e) before securing the court’s approval as fair. (Jun 2, 2015.)

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT

Torts
State Department of State Hospitals v. Superior Court (Novoa) (2015) _ Cal.4th _ , 2015 WL 3451562: The California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s ruling that, while the Sexually Violent Predators Act imposed a mandatory duty on defendants, the alleged breach was not the proximate cause of the death of plaintiff’s sister. The complaint sufficiently alleged a breach of the Department of Mental Health’s mandatory duty to conduct an evaluation with two evaluators. But the Court of Appeal properly ruled that the distance between defendant’s alleged breach of a mandatory duty and plaintiff’s injuries was too great to support a Government Code section 815.6 action. (June 1, 2015.)

CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL

Arbitration
Oregel v. PacPizza, LLC (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2015 WL 3455317: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of a petition to compel arbitration. The trial court properly denied the petition and found that defendant had waived its right to compel arbitration because defendant petitioned to compel arbitration 17 months and more than 1,300 attorney hours after plaintiff filed a class action against his former employer. (C.A. 1st, filed May 1, 2015, published June 1, 2015.)

Civil Procedure (Attorney Fees)
Animal Protection and Rescue League v. The City of San Diego (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2015 WL 3395449: The Court of Appeal affirmed the part of the trial court’s order granting attorney fees under the private attorney-fee statute in Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5. A municipality may be considered an opposing party for purposes of section 1021.5 when it confesses error in response to a petition for writ of mandate challenging the municipality’s action. (C.A. 4th, May 27, 2015.)
Maroney v. Iacobsohn (2015) _ Cal.4th _ , 2015 WL 3524602: The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment for plaintiff and dismissed defendant’s appeal. Plaintiff did not trigger the 15-day motion for new trial time limit when she attached a file-stamped copy of the judgment to her motion to tax costs. However, the trial court order granting a conditional motion for new trial for plaintiff was a nullity without legal effect. (C.A. 2nd, June 4, 2015.)

Employment
Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ : The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment for defendant in an action for disability discrimination and wrongful termination. The plaintiff employee’s alleged disability, an inability to work under a particular supervisor because of anxiety and stress related to the supervisor’s standard oversight of job performance, was not a disability recognized in California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. (C.A. 3rd, May 26, 2015.)
Noe v. Superior Court (Levy Premium Foodservice Limited Partnership) (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2015 WL 3463006: The Court of Appeal denied plaintiffs’ writ petition challenging the trial court’s ruling that plaintiffs could not pursue a Labor Code section 226.8 claim against joint employers because neither entity had made the alleged misclassification decision that plaintiffs were independent contractors. The petition was denied because the Court of Appeal ruled that section 226.8 cannot be enforced through a direct private action. However, the Court of Appeal concluded that section 226.8 is not limited to employers who make the misclassification decision, but also extends to any employer who is aware that a co-employer has willfully misclassified their joint employees and fails to remedy the misclassification. (C.A. 2nd, June 1, 2015.)
Verdugo v. Alliantgroup, L.P. (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _, 2015 WL 3407191: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s summary judgment for defendant based upon a forum selection clause. Although a party opposing enforcement of a forum selection clause ordinarily bears the burden to show enforcement would be unreasonable or unfair, the burden is reversed when the underlying claims are based on statutory rights the California Legislature has declared to be unwaivable. In that instance, the party seeking to enforce the forum selection clause has the burden to show enforcement would not diminish unwaivable California statutory rights. Defendant’s speculation that a Texas court would apply California law failed to show that enforcing the Texas forum selection clause and related choice-of-law clause would not diminish plaintiff’s statutory rights under California law. (C.A. 4th, May 28, 2015.)

Insurance
Centex Homes v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2015 WL 2437957: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining the carrier’s demurrer without leave to amend to two causes of action by plaintiff developer, an additional named insured under the policy, seeking declaratory relief and Cumis counsel under Civil Code section 2860. The trial court properly ruled that the declaratory relief claims were not actual and ripe, and that plaintiff had not alleged facts sufficient to support its claim of a conflict with the carrier. (C.A. 4th, May 22, 2015.)

Real Property
City and County of San Francisco v. PCF Acquisitionco, LLC (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2015 WL 3378853: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order denying the eminent domain defendant’s motion for litigation expenses. The City’s final pre-trial settlement offer, made 20 days before trial and contingent on obtaining approvals from three other government entities, was not reasonable under Code of Civil Procedure 1250.410 and did not bar a defendant who rejected it from later recovering its litigation costs. (C.A. 1st, May 26, 2015.)
Honchariw v. County of Stanislaus (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2015 WL 3504816: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend. The inverse condemnation action, filed after a successful writ of mandate proceeding, was barred by the 90-day statute of limitations in Government Code section 66499.37 because the mandate action did not allege that an unconstitutional taking occurred when the county denied the developer’s subdivision application. (C.A. 5th, June 3, 2015.)
Mira Overseas Consulting Ltd. v. Muse Family Enterprises, Ltd. (2015) _ Cal.App.4t _ , 2015 WL 3473386: The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment entered after a bench trial. A judgment granting a fraudulent transfer claim, as well as monetary damages, relates back to the date on which the claimants recorded a lis pendens. (C.A. 2nd, June 2, 2015.)
Shoen v. Zacarias (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2015 WL 2452527: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order granting an equitable easement to a trespassing neighbor. While a trial court has the power to issue an equitable easement authorizing a trespasser to continue her trespass in exchange for paying damages if the hardship on the trespasser in ceasing the trespass is “greatly disproportionate” to the hardship on the land owner in losing use of the trespassed-upon portion of her land, a trespasser’s hardship in having to remove portable patio furniture did not qualify for this relief. (C.A.2nd, May 22, 2015.)

Torts
Doe v. Superior Court (The First Baptist Church of San Jose) (2015) _ Cal.App.4th _ : The Court of Appeal granted a writ petition and ordered the trial court to reverse its order sustaining a demurrer to two causes of action alleging fraudulent concealment of information from parents about a camp employee’s suspected molestation of their minor daughter at summer camp. The camp not only had a duty to control the actions of its employee, but once the camp learned about the pool incident involving the minor, which was verified by two percipient lifeguard witnesses, the camp’s duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent further harm to the minor included an obligation to disclose the suspected molestation to the parents. (C.A. 6th, May 29, 2015.)

Monty A. Mcintyre

Monty A. McIntyre follows his passions for the law and serving others by serving as a mediator, arbitrator and motion referee to help individuals, businesses and lawyers obtain rapid, reasonable resolution of disputes. He is also the Publisher of McIntyre’s California Civil Law Update and can be reached at 619-990-4312 or monty.mcintyre@gmail.com.

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About the Author: Monty A. McIntyre follows his passions for the law and serving others by serving as a mediator, arbitrator and motion referee to help individuals, businesses and lawyers obtain rapid, reasonable resolution of disputes. He is also the Publisher of McIntyre’s California Civil Law Update and can be reached at 619-990-4312 or monty.mcintyre@gmail.com.

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