Thursday, October 12, 2017

Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs v. Superior Court

The petition for review is granted. The parties will brief the following issue: When a law enforcement agency creates an internal Brady list (see Gov. Code, § 3305.5), and a peace officer on that list is a potential witness in a pending criminal prosecution, may the agency disclose to the prosecution (a) the name and identifying number of the officer and (b) that the officer may have relevant exonerating or impeaching material in his or her confidential personnel file, or can such disclosure be made only by court order on a properly filed Pitchess motion? (See Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83; People v. Superior Court (Johnson) (2015) 61 Cal.4th 696; Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531; Pen. Code, §§ 832.7-832.8; Evid. Code, §§ 1043-1045.) Votes: Cantil-Sakauye, C.J., Chin, Corrigan, Liu, CuĂ©llar and Kruger, JJ. Review granted/issues limited.

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Flores v. City of Westminster

The panel affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s judgment, after a jury trial, in favor of three police officers of Latino descent who alleged discrimination and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.



The panel affirmed the district court’s denial of the defendant City of Westminster’s motions for a new trial and judgment as a matter of law on Officer Jose Flores’s claim of retaliation in violation of FEHA. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Officer Flores and drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor, the panel held that Officer Flores established that the City subjected him to one or more adverse employment actions, that his protected conduct was a substantial motivating factor behind the adverse employment actions, and that the City’s proffered reasons for its actions were pretextual. The panel also affirmed the jury’s award of damages to Officer Flores on the FEHA retaliation claim. The panel concluded that Officer Flores was not awarded a double recovery because the FEHA damages award did not necessarily overlap with the damages awarded against the defendant police chiefs for their individual retaliatory actions in violation of § 1981.



The panel held that the district court did not err in denying the officers’ discrimination and retaliation claims against the police chiefs under § 1981, which prohibits discrimination in the making and enforcement of contracts by reason of race. The panel held that California law providing that the employment relationship between the state and its civil service employees is governed by statute rather than contract should not be read to bar public employees from bringing claims under § 1981. The panel distinguished Judie v. Hamilton, 872 F.2d 919 (9th Cir. 1989), which predated the 1991 amendments to § 1981 expanding the reach of the statute’s “make and enforce contracts” term.



The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in evidentiary rulings. The panel held that there was no prejudicial error in allowing a jury instruction on the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.



The panel held that the jury’s verdict against two police chiefs for race discrimination in violation of § 1981 was not fatally inconsistent. In addition, the verdict finding the chiefs individually liable, and awarding punitive damages, was not against the clear weight of the evidence. The panel declined to reduce the punitive damages awards as unconstitutionally excessive.



The panel vacated the judgment against Chief Mitchell Waller, who died before trial, and remanded for the district court to grant two officers leave to substitute Chief Waller’s estate pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(a)(1).

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Lopez v. Friant & Assoc.

Plaintiff Eduardo Lopez filed this action seeking recovery of civil penalties under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA; Lab. Code, § 2698 et seq.) for his employer’s failure to include required information on itemized wage statements.  The trial court granted summary judgment in the employer’s favor on the basis that the uncontroverted evidence showed the employer’s omission was not knowing or intentional within the meaning of section 226, subdivision (e)(1) (section 226(e)(1)).  Because plaintiff’s claim for civil penalties is governed by section 2699 and not section 226(e)(1), we reverse the judgment.

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Linton v. DeSoto Cab Company

Plaintiff Darnice Linton appeals from a judgment in favor of defendant DeSoto Cab Company.  Defendant initiated the trial court proceeding after the Labor Commissioner found in favor of plaintiff on his claim for unpaid wages.  Plaintiff had alleged defendant violated certain wage and hour laws by requiring him to pay a set fee (known as a “gate fee”) in exchange for obtaining a taxicab to drive for each of his shifts.  After a bench trial, the court concluded plaintiff was not entitled to recover the gate fees because he was an independent contractor and not an employee of defendant.  In so ruling, the court determined that several relevant cases, including the Supreme Court’s seminal case S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341 (Borello), are not controlling under the circumstances at issue here.  We conclude the court erred in its legal analysis.  The judgment is therefore reversed.  Our conclusion renders moot defendant’s appeal of the court’s order denying its claim for costs.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Sargon Enterprises v. Browne George Ross LLP

An arbitration agreement requires a party to submit a dispute to arbitration if ordered by a court to do so--but it does not preclude a party from initiating a civil action or asking a court to resolve disputed issues over an arbitration agreement's applicability or enforceability. The California Arbitration Act expressly protects a party's right to do so.

Sargon Enterprises v. Browne George Ross LLP - filed Sept. 26, 2017, Second District, Div. Three
Cite as 2017 S.O.S. 4828

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Medina v. South Coast Car Company, Inc

The language in a settlement agreement did not preclude plaintiff from recovering any attorney fees, costs and prejudgment interest. The settlement acknowledged the plaintiff was the prevailing party on all causes of action and that defendants would not dispute his entitlement to an award, as opposed to the amount, of attorney fees and costs. A "holder" of a retail sales installment contract was properly held liable for the award of attorney fees and costs since the sales contract provided that the holder of the contract would be subject to all the claims the plaintiff could assert against the seller, and the holder of the contract was also a party to the settlement agreement.

Medina v. South Coast Car Company, Inc. - filed Sept. 19, 2017, publication ordered Sept. 25, 2017, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2017 S.O.S. 4774

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Mission Beverage Company v. Pabst Brewing Company

A beer brewer's cancellation of a distribution contract is not a protected activity within the meaning of the anti-SLAPP statute because the decision is unconnected with any official proceeding. Business and Professions Code Sec. 25000.2 does not independently confer upon brewers the right to cancel their existing distributorship contracts and does not immunize them from liability for any wrongful cancellation of those contracts.

Mission Beverage Company v. Pabst Brewing Company - filed Sept. 25, 2017, Second District, Div. Two
Cite as 2017 S.O.S. 4766

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