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

December 2017 Archives

Court Revives Obesity Disability Claim Against Club

Ketryn Cornell had a weight problem, and it became an issue at work.

She liked her job, but when a "thin woman" started making more money than she did, things got nasty. A pay dispute quickly turned into a lawsuit.

A trial judge dismissed Cornell's discrimination case, but California's Second District Court of Appeal reversed in part. At trial in Cornell v. Berkeley Tennis Club, it could go from bad to worse.

Court: No Duty to Businesses for Economic Loss From Gas Leak

Judge John Wiley, Jr. gets rave reviews for being a "very thorough," intelligent," "gentleman and a scholar."

So it was with respect when an appeals court reviewed the judge's invitation to review his ruling in the Southern California Gas Company Gas Leak Cases. After all, it was about a leak of 190,000 metric tons of methane that put 15,000 residents out of their homes.

"The legal issue here -- the existence of a duty of care -- is significant and of widespread interest," said the California Second District Court of Appeal.

The California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a Black Lives Matter protester who was arrested for getting between arresting officers and an arrestee. Jasmine Nicole Richardson was arrested for pulling an arrestee away from the officers during a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Richardson was ultimately convicted of attempting to take a person from lawful police custody by means of riot, a felony.

Richardson appealed the conviction on a few grounds, but was only successful on one. Unfortunately for Richardson, the one claim the appellate court went for only involved the trial court's failure to include a jury instruction for a lesser included charge, which trial courts are required to do when the lesser charge is wholly within the larger charge. In reversing the conviction, the appellate court remanded the matter for either retrial, or simply resentencing based on the lesser charge Richardson alleged should have been submitted to the jury.

Photo, Close Enough to Identify CVS Clerk Selling Alcohol to Minor

Yesterday, you smiled for "Candid Camera." Today, you smile for a selfie.

In any generation, however, you really don't smile for a police officer who is taking your picture. That was the case for a CVS clerk caught selling alcohol to a minor in Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control v. Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board.

Police had sent the teenager into the store as a decoy, then asked the clerk and the boy -- beer in hand -- to pose for a photo. That was good enough for identification, said California's Third District Court of Appeal.

'Functional Meth Users' Lose Custody, Court Rules

Richard was a good father, except for one problem: he used meth four times a day.

Still, he pleaded with the court, he had held his job for 27 years, provided for his family, and ensured his children had healthy food, a clean home, and a good education. He just wanted them back together again.

Not good enough, the trial judge ruled. In re. Alexzander C., the California Second District Court of Appeal agreed.

Groundwater Pumping Fees Aren't Taxes

Groundwater and taxes.

If it were a class in law school, it would be cancelled for lack of interest. Just add a constitutional issue, however, and you get case law worth reading.

In City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District, the California Supreme Court said water district fees for groundwater conservation are not prohibited taxes under the California Constitution. The decision clears the way for water agencies to charge for conservation services, and gets around voter-approved tax restraints on real property.

'Booster Bag' Not a Burglary Tool, Court Rules

When a shoplifter stoops to stealing clothes, you gotta feel a little sorry for him or her.

And when he falls to the ground convulsing, it's almost a tragedy. But when it turns out he used a special bag to get the merchandise through electronic sensors, that's a different story.

And so a jury convicted the California man of burglary, grand theft, and possessing burglary tools. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed the "tools" conviction, but compassion had nothing to do with it.

'Duck Dynasty' Co-Creators Lose Autonomous Control of Production Company

Who would have thought a show about ducks would be so successful?

It surprised almost everybody, but not the 12 million viewers who tuned in for its fourth season. Phil Robertson, the star of the show, said it started as "just a bunch of rednecks shooting ducks."

"Duck Dynasty" is really a story about a family. But four years later, it's a different story as the co-creators are fighting for their television lives in ITV Gurney Holding Inc. v. Gurney.

California Sued for Poor Literacy in Schools

Dylan, 14, didn't plan to become the poster child for a lousy educational system.

An eighth-grader in Central California, Dylan reads at an early second-grade level. He tested in the bottom one percent of students his age.

That is now public knowledge, thanks to a lawsuit filed by his parents and others who complain the state has failed its students. For Dylan, it may be worse now if he reads the newspaper.

Inflatable Pool Case Deflated Against Thrifty Payless

The plaintiff said the inflatable pool was too small. The judge said the pool of plaintiffs was too small. Case dismissed.

That's pretty much the story in Noel v. Thrifty Payless, Inc. But if you were looking for a better explanation, that's what the court said, too.

The trial judge said the class-action attorney did not identify the class well enough to proceed. The lawyer appealed, but the California First District Court of Appeals said it wasn't the judge's fault.

California Sues Major For-Profit College

Behind every lawsuit, there is a true story.

It may not be apparent in the complaint, but it drives the litigation. In People of the State of California v. Ashford University, the real story starts with the second defendant named in the caption: Bridgeport Education, Inc.

Bridgeport owns the private university, which rocketed to $120 million in profits annually in ten years. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra says the defendants defrauded students.

Court Slaps Back Cosby and His Lawyer

Former model Janice Dickinson won a significant round in her legal fight with Bill Cosby, and it was a long time coming.

Fifteen years ago, Dickson told her publishers that Cosby had drugged and raped her but they feared civil liability. Her memoir was published with a sanitized version -- and then this happened: dozens more women made accusations of sexual assault against the former comedian.

After Dickinson went public in 2014, Cosby's lawyer attacked her in the media, so she sued for defamation. Now a California appeals court has slapped Cosby and his lawyer.