California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal News & Information Blog

California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal Opinion Summaries Blog


Finally, that LLM you got in Zombie Law is about to pay off! The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that wills may be amended post-mortem. That's a drastic shift from the categorical bar against modifying an unambiguous will.

Of course, those wishing to amend their wills after death won't need to reanimate a corpse or two -- though it wouldn't hurt. Clear extrinsic evidence of the testator's intent should be enough.

The California Supreme Court ruled against comedian, Jello-spokesperson, and alleged serial sexual offender Bill Cosby last Wednesday. The court rejected Cosby's attempt to block a sexual battery lawsuit by Judy Huth. Huth's lawsuit alleges that the comedian molested her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old.

Cosby could soon be deposed under oath, following the ruling. That's certainly not something the Cosby team is looking forward to, given the damaging revelations from a recently discovered deposition.

After years of wrangling, a federal court in California has dismissed a privacy lawsuit against Google. Plaintiffs had alleged a variety of privacy breaches by Google, claiming that the tech Goliath had indiscriminately shared their private information with third parties, in violation of the company's own policies.

The crux of the lawsuit was Google's alleged sharing of names, email addresses and account locations with third parties without users' permission. Plaintiffs are unable to show any injury stemming from that sharing, federal Judge Paul Grewal ruled last Wednesday, dismissing the suit for the fourth, and most likely last, time.

California cheerleaders have a new reason to cheer today after Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill guaranteeing basic employee rights for cheerleaders. The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, herself a former cheerleader, comes after a series of lawsuits by professional cheerleaders who alleged they often worked without pay or even simple employment protections.

It's not just cheerleaders who will benefit. In a nod to team spirit, the legislation will also protect professional mascots, from the Giant's Lou Seal to the L.A. Clipper's Frankie Muniz.

Call it a family law case for the modern age. The question of who controls a couple's frozen embryos after divorce goes before the San Francisco Superior Court today in what could be a precedent setting trial. The case is the first in California to address what happens when one half of a couple wants to preserve embryos that the other half wants destroyed.

As a result of the increasing popularity of in vitro fertilization, there are more than 600,000 frozen embryos in the United States, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Most of those are left over from successful IVF procedures, their futures uncontested. However, a few of those embryos are increasingly becoming the center of custody disputes during divorce and separation.

Oh how the tides have turned. California, once a bastion for anti-vaccination activists, adopted one of the toughest vaccination laws in the country this week. On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed the new legislation, which requires all children attending public schools to be vaccinated against polio, measles, hepatitis B and other preventable diseases.

Importantly, the law removes exemptions based personal and religious objections to vaccination. Currently, more than 80,000 students escape vaccination under personal belief exemptions. Vaccination opponents have vowed to fight the new legislation.

Just in time for this weekend's Gay Pride celebrations and right on the cusp of the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling, California's got some good, gay news: a ballot initiative to execute gays and lesbians can be snuffed out without going through the regular ballot process. It's the little victories that count.

The ridiculous Sodomite Suppression Act was the work of Orange Count attorney Matthew McLaughlin and would have required capital punishment for same-sex sexual activity -- carried out by any member of the public. Besides being offensively stupid, the ballot measure is patently unconstitutional and state attorney general Kamala Harris refused to even process the proposal -- i.e., allow it to be put out for petitions in order to qualify for the ballot.

Just in time for your hay fever, fireworks injuries, and debilitating sunburns, expanded sick leave rights are coming to California workers. Starting the first of July, the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act will give California workers access to paid sick leave if they work over 30 days a year. The bill allows employees to earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.

The new law is expected to expand paid sick leave to millions of workers who previously had little access to leave or no paid sick leave at all. The Act should cover about three quarters of California's low-wage workers and applies to full-time, part-time, and temporary workers.

Uber has long tried to play itself off as simply a middleman, just dispatching independent drivers to consumers through its app -- and taking a big cut of their fare. Nothing but logistics, right? Not according to the California Labor Commission, who ruled today that the extensive control Uber has over its drivers makes them employees, not independent contractors.

The ruling is a major blow to the company, which has long resisted classifying its drivers as employees. Treating drivers as employees will require Uber to pay for Social Security, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, work expenses and other costs, all of which have been borne by drivers until now.

When Governor Brown instituted mandatory water restrictions on urban water users early this April, he was widely praised for taking drastic action to address California's worsening drought. Yet, that praise was often paired with skepticism and even condemnation, as Brown had failed to mandate any reductions for agricultural water users. In California, agricultural users are responsible for four times as much water use as all urban uses, or approximately 80% of all water use in the state.

Agricultural users' reprieve hasn't lasted long, however. On Friday, California instituted sharp cutbacks for farmers, the first reduction of its kind in 38 years. The cutbacks could raise tricky legal issues in California, where water rights complicated and often controversial.