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


Led Zeppelin Moves to Dismiss Case, Cites Mary Poppins as Inspiration

Legal counsel for Led Zeppelin urged a Los Angeles federal district court judge to dismiss the current copyright suit against the band over allegations that they stole a riff from the song "Taurus" by Spirit.

Based on what we know now of the suit, it appears that issues of fact could still be fleshed out -- despite our view that reasonable minds might disagree about the "substantial similarity" between "Taurus" and "Stairway to Heaven."

ACLU Sues CA Court for Suspending Driver Licenses of the Poor

When Henry Washington was given a citation for driving an unregistered vehicle, the ensuing fine hit him harder than it would many Californians with more adequate means. After all, the reason he purchased the vehicle was to drive his brother to and from his required medical appointments. But the car couldn't pass smog. He choose to drive a dirty car to get his brother to his appointments. Soon, his license was suspended because he couldn't pay the fine.

This area between a rock and a hard place is all too common for many of California's poor, and the ACLU has recently filed a suit seeking some relief for those most affected.

Father of 2015 Paris Attack Victim Sues Social Media

The father of one of the victims who fell in the Paris attacks in late 2015 is suing Twitter and other social media platforms for their role in bringing the attacks about. Specifically, he has accused the defending parties of "providing material support for terrorism."

The defendants have responded by claiming that the Communications Decency Act shields them from liability associated with user posts. But in this delicate case, who will -- or should -- win?

As California's physician-assisted suicide law went into effect last Thursday, the American Academy of Medical Ethics, Life Legal Defense Foundation, and several physicians went to work to try to stop it. The law, the End of Life Option Act, allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to competent, terminally ill adults with less than six months to live.

But the group of conservative physicians and medical professionals argues that the law strips patients of legal protections and is seeking to have the law overturned. Do they have any chance of success?

California Diesel Amendments Impact Truckers, Big and Small

California Superior Court Judge Mark W. Snauffer has ruled against recent amendments that eased up on heightened diesel regulations in favor of industry little guys, causing controversy in a county that is highly reliant on transport of goods and the diesel engines used to get them to and fro.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has responded negatively to the ruling, describing it as "deal[ing] a profound blow to ... smaller fleets, small farmers and independent owners."

Just a few weeks ago, Judge Aaron Persky was a little known public servant in Santa Clara Superior Court. Then he sentenced Stanford University student Brock Turner to a six-month sentence for three felony counts stemming from Turner's rape of an unconscious woman, far below the maximum 14 years Turner was facing. The case gained international attention when the victim shared her courtroom statement with the press, detailing how the rape and sentencing affected her.

Now, Judge Persky is facing calls that he should be removed from the bench. A Change.org petition has gained over 900,000 signatures in under a week, even as Persky won a new term on Tuesday, having run for his seat unchallenged. Those signatures are unlikely to have much of an effect on Persky's tenure, but a serious attempt to unseat him, led by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, might.

Governor Jerry Brown's plan to reduce the state's prison population will almost certainly make it onto the ballot in November, after surviving a Supreme Court challenge on Monday. The ballot imitative had originally been put forward with a major focus on reforming the juvenile justice system. Amendments by the governor's supporters shifted that focus to the entire prison population.

The California District Attorneys Association sued, arguing that the changes were too extensive to allow the imitative to go forward without new public comment. In a six to one decision, the California Supreme Court rejected that argument on Monday.

CA Assumption of Risk Doctrine Applies to Thrillseekers

Personal injury attorneys intuitively understand that the potential payout for injured plaintiffs is inversely related to both the dangerousness of the plaintiff's personal conduct at the time of the injury and the foreseeability of his injury. In a recent California case, the Third Appellate District drew a line in the sand in favor of defendants.

It's just another reminder that those engaged in anything more dangerous than a simple job run the risk of losing certain premise liability suits against landowners in California. As you might have guessed, this has its fans as well as its detractors.

Bill Seeking to Overhaul Cal. State Bar Dies in Legislature

Assembly Bill 2878, the proposed law that would have fundamentally changed the makeup of the California State Bar's board of trustees by doing away with elected reps and membership dues, died on the floor of the California legislature. This despite many vocal critics of the state bar's exposed shortcomings and lack of transparency.

It is difficult to tell whether or not the bill was blocked because of broad-based unpopular sentiment or if it was blocked because the proposed changes didn't go far enough.

Are Smart-Gun Mandates Coming to California?

Are we going big brother on guns? Should we? Does the Second Amendment right to bear arms guarantee a right to bear arms that are not tech-locked against a particular user?

Questions like these are at the very heart of the case of Pena v. Lindley, a gun safety lawsuit that's been many years in the making but now is finally closing in on the issue of how America regards guns.