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

July 2013 Archives

In 2011, five separate claims against Naked Juice, a PepsiCo company, were consolidated into a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, reports the LA Weekly. The essence of the complaint centered around the use of the words "all natural," "100% juice," and "100% fruit" on the Naked Juice labels.

Plaintiffs argue that the use of the those words on the labels were false and misleading, and were violations of California Unfair Competition law, California False Advertising law, California fraud law, and breaches of warranty and strict liability under state, and federal common laws.

Now, Naked Juice has agreed to pay $9 Million to settle the claims, even though it continues to deny "all of plaintiff's claims." PepsiCo also stated that they would drop the word "natural" from Naked Juice labels until the FDA provides more guidance on how the word "natural" should be used.

On Monday, Irene McCormack Jackson filed a complaint for damages against the City of San Diego, and Mayor Filner, for sexual harassment/employment discrimination. Filner's former communications director, Jackson claims that Filner allegedly created a hostile and intimidating work environment.

Among many allegations, Jackson cites examples of inappropriate touching: patting her behind, kissing on the cheek, and putting her in a head lock. She further alleges that on many occasions the Mayor made inappropriate comments including asking when they would get married, when they would consummate the marriage, and even asking her to work without her panties on.

California Supreme Court Refuses to Stop Gay Marriage ... Again

The California Supreme Court has refused to stop gay marriage for a second time this week.

"Once more, with feeling" is the name of a musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Coincidentally, it also describes the California Supreme Court's position on Proposition 8, otherwise known as the bane of the court's existence the 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage.

The court "slayed" (or is it slew?) a request by San Diego County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr. for a temporary hold on same-sex marriages. This comes after the court rejected a similar request last week by the sponsors of Prop. 8.

Summary Judgment Affirmed in Disney Segway Case

Some might call Tina Baughman a vexatious litigant or unscrupulous plaintiff. Others would label her a crusader for those with limited mobility. Here is her record, per the court’s opinion:

“In 2005, Baughman filed a complaint against Sav-On Drug Store alleging negligence per se and violations of the ADA, the DPA, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and Health and Safety Code section 19955, et seq. The lawsuit concerned access to Sav-On Drug Stores restroom.

In 2006, Baughman filed a lawsuit against the Department of Motor Vehicles on much the same grounds. This lawsuit also involved the use of a restroom. The case settled when the [DMV] agreed to bring their restrooms into compliance and paid Baughman $4,000 in damages.

In 2006, Baughman brought the same type of lawsuit against Santa Monica Ford. This lawsuit also settled when Santa Monica Ford agreed to bring its restrooms into compliance and paid Baughman $4,000 in damages.”

California's Prop 65, the first and only consumer "right to know" law in the U.S., requires businesses to post warning labels about toxins that may be present that could cause reproductive harm or cancer. Many companies, rather than put warnings on products, reformulated products to remove the toxins. Since California is such a large market, these toxin-free products are now distributed nationally, with all states receiving the benefit of Prop 65, notes KQED.

With all things, there's a dark side and the negative impact of Prop 65 is the increase in "shakedown" lawsuits initiated by attorneys to get quick settlements that are very lucrative for them. As a result, California's legislature is considering AB 227 -- a law to reform Prop 65 to allow businesses to avoid lawsuits if they pay a $500 fine and correctly post warning signs within fourteen days of receiving notice.

The latest product to come under the scrutiny of Prop 65 advocates is -- well, the one thing you want free and clear of toxins -- baby food.

Alleged Wife-beater Can't Be Charged in CA for HI Assault

He called her a fat cow. She mentioned his past patronage of prostitutes. After some pushing, shoving, and scuffling, he punched her in the face, resulting in a detached retina and permanent loss of vision in the eye. She told the Hawaiian police that she had fallen. They returned from their vacation two days later.

They were married that fall, but with nuptials did not come bliss. Barely a year after they tied the knot, he became incensed at her regular tardiness in returning home from work. A verbal argument ensued. Soon thereafter, he was squeezing her throat until she lost consciousness. When she awoke, he threatened her adult sons, and then suffocated her again until she lost consciousness.

She came forward days later out of fear for her sons' safety.

Class-Action Denied; No Commonality in Miscalculated Prison Terms

When it comes to state-run agencies, it's often not a matter of if they'll mess up, but rather a matter of when or how. This is one of those cases.

The plaintiff here, Robert Lopez, was incarcerated past his release date. This probably violated his constitutional rights. He is not alone, as an estimated 594 inmates were released late, between January 1, 2004 and May 4, 2008. For him, the late release was caused by a clerical error on the minute order from the court, an error that the Department of Corrections twice attempted to correct by sending letters to the trial court. For others, the cause could have been anything from lost paperwork, to miscalculated good behavior credits.

And if you've been paying attention to class-action law lately, issues of commonality and typicality should be screaming at you.

Since 2011, prisoners at California's Pelican Bay State Prison, near the Oregon border, have protested the use of prolonged isolation. Though the original protests ended two years ago, this Monday prisoners at Pelican Bay resumed their hunger strike.

Kamau Walton, a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, stated: "I would say if the demands have been met, they wouldn't be going on a hunger strike... People don't starve themselves for no reason," CNN reported.

San Diego Court Rules in Favor of Yoga in Schools

The connection may seem odd to those of us who have partaken of a 24 Hour Fitness Yoga class (never again!), but the droll series of stretches and mind-numbing meditation that has become an American pop culture phenomenon actually began as a Hindu religious practice. So, when a non-profit foundation, named for Sri K Pattahbi Jois, gave a massive $533,000 grant to teach Ashtanga (Eight Limbed) Yoga to public school children in the San Diego area, it raised a few eyebrows and one big lawsuit.

Last week, while many of us were lighting things on fire, Judge John Meyer was busy upholding the teaching of yoga in Encinitas Unified School District. Calling it a "distinctly American cultural phenomenon," Judge Meyer ruled that teaching yoga in schools did not amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause, reports Reuters.

Does Retroactive Sex Offender Registration Violate Plea Deal?

When California modified its Sex Offender Registration Act to require that those who had been convicted of certain offenses, even those who had already completed their sentence, register for the public Megan’s Law online database, it created a number of issues. Was this an ex post facto violation? Did it violate due process? What about the contractual obligations of the parties per the plea bargain?

John Doe, a registered sex offender, entered a plea deal providing for probation and registration under the terms of Penal Code Section 290 as it existed in 1991 — a requirement to register for a private database only accessible by law enforcement officials.

Since then, the law has been modified twice, first to provide for a publically-accessible information phone line and later, to provide for the Megan’s Law website. Doe sued after the latter requirement was put into place and he was notified that his information would be available online.