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


SpaceX Survives 'Contractor' Suit

A California appeals court said a construction company has no "contractor" claims against SpaceX because the company was not licensed.

Phoenix Pipeline Mechanical performed services for the private aerospace business, but it was not licensed for construction work. The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said the company can only sue for non-contractor work.

"Phoenix Pipeline has not alleged one contract, but rather a series of agreements for each separate task that it was asked to perform," the court said in Phoenix Pipeline Mechanical, Inc. v. Space Exploration Technologies, Corp. "It may therefore seek compensation under those alleged agreements that apply to tasks for which no license was required."

Oakland Settles Police Sex Scandal

The Oakland City Council approved a settlement to pay nearly $1 million to a former prostitute who alleged that a parade of police officers used her for sex, including times when she was a minor.

Jasmine Absulin, formerly known as Celeste Guap, said that police in Oakland, Richmond, Livermore, and San Francisco, as well as Alameda and Contra Costa counties, were involved. She has filed claims for civil rights violations against the police agencies.

"Officers are supposed to protect young girls like this, not take advantage of them," her attorney John Burris said. "They were like wild rats that went from one department to the next department to the next department."

From memos to moot court, law school students are trained in the art of persuasion. Unfortunately, much of that art goes to seed upon graduation, or is reserved only for the biggest case filings or court appearances. While some attorneys will find the argument in anything, many more lawyers think the only time they need to be persuasive is in front of a judge or jury.

As it turns out, you may need your powers of persuasion in your everyday practice, and there are ways to be more effective in your interactions with clients, opposing counsel, judges, mediators, arbitrators, regulators, and others and therefore be more successful in your legal practice. Here’s how.

California Courts at High Risk for Quake Damage

This is not a script for a disaster movie; it's just a script for disaster.

According to the California Judicial Council's Court Facilities Advisory Committee, scores of courthouses pose a high or very high risk of falling apart in an earthquake. More than 140 courts are seismically unsafe, the committee reported.

Glendale Superior and Municipal Courthouse is the least safe, according to the report, followed by Alameda County Administration Building, which houses civil courts. Retrofitting the buildings with the highest risk would cost about $2 billion.

"It doesn't get safer each year as the buildings get older," said Stephen Nash, executive officer for Contra Costa County Superior Court. "We are sitting on a time bomb. We are watching the clock tick."

Governor Likes Budget the Way It Is, Chief Justice Not so Much

Gov. Jerry Brown has released a revised California budget, and it does not include new money for the courts. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is not impressed.

"Under this proposed budget, trial courts receive a little more than a penny for every general-fund tax dollar, less than what the courts were receiving before the Great Recession," she said in a statement. "This is neither fair nor just."

In his initial budget, the governor added $35.4 million to support the state trial courts. The judiciary's proposed budget was about $3.6 billion, and the revised budget keeps it the same.

California Supreme Court Confirms Day of Rest

The California Supreme Court said employees are guaranteed a day of rest for each workweek, although employees may choose to work the seventh day.

There is an exception for employees who work shifts of six hours or less, the court said, but only for those workers who never exceed six hours of work on any day of the workweek. Resolving the dispute in Mendoza v. Nordtrom, Inc., the court said the law protects the day of rest for anyone who works more than six hours a day.

"If on any one day an employee works more than six hours, a day of rest must be provided during that workweek," Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote, adding that it is subject to the applicable exceptions.

Airbnb Settles San Francisco Suit

Airbnb has settled a suit with San Francisco, and will require people to register with the city when they rent-out their homes through the company's website.

The company, which lists rental lodgings in 65,000 cities worldwide, agreed to share names, addresses and zip codes of hosts in the city. San Francisco has only 2,100 on its records, but Airbnb has more than 8,000 in the city.

"Every host on the Airbnb platform will be registered, which is what the city has said it will be looking for," said Chris Lehane, global policy chief for the company. Registration will debut for Airbnb hosts in San Francisco in 2018.

Mayweather Wins a Round Against His Ex at California Appeals Court

Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who holds the second-best record in American boxing history, has won a round against his ex-girlfriend.

But the fight is not over. Shantel Jackson will get another shot at the title holder, who still faces claims that he beat, assaulted, falsely imprisoned, and otherwise traumatized her.

In an unpublished decision, a California appeals court said Jackson may not pursue defamation and invasion of privacy claims against the boxer. Those claims are barred by anti-SLAPP laws, the Second District Court of Appeals said, but the other causes of action survived.

California's anti-SLAPP statute can be one of the most powerful tools in a civil litigator's toolbox. The law is meant to counteract "strategic lawsuits against public participation" such as libel claims against a coworker who opens up an internal investigation, or intentional infliction of emotional distress suits over a negative online review.

California's anti-SLAPP statute is the oldest in the nation and arguably the best. Not only can it result in the dismissal of a suit, an anti-SLAPP motion halts proceedings and, if successful, can achieve an award of attorney's fees. Knowing how to wield this weapon, or how to disarm it, could be the difference between winning and losing a case.

California Men's Only College Can Admit Women

Opening the rarest opportunity for college-bound women in America, a state appeals court said a tiny all-men's college in California may now accept women.

Deep Springs College, the smallest college in the United States, had been open to men only since its founding in 1917. The school admits 12 to 15 people a year, and has a student body of 25 to 30 in its two-year program.

The private college was established by a trust that said it was "for the education of promising young men," but the college trustees voted 7-2 to open the school for women in 2011. Lawsuits ensued, and California's Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed a decision for coeducation in Hitz v. Hoekstra.