CALIFORNIA CLASS ACTION LAW

Tag: Superior court

California Court of Appeal Cites Death Knell Doctrine to Assert Jurisdiction Over Appeal of Order Granting Arbitration

Ring His Death Knell - NARA - 534312

Ring His Death Knell – NARA – 534312 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, in a proposed wage and hour class action, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District reversed the lower court’s order granting a petition to compel arbitration.  Compton v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. B236669, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2013 WL 1120619 (2d Dist. Mar 19, 2013).  Plaintiff was a property manager who was required to sign an arbitration agreement that also barred arbitration of class claims.  The trial court granted defendants’ petition to compel arbitration.

Normally an order compelling arbitration is not appealable.  But the Court of Appeal determined it had jurisdiction, citing the “death knell” doctrine:

An order compelling arbitration is not appealable. (Elijahjuan v. Superior Court (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 15, 19.) The parties argue over whether this matter is appealable under the “death knell” doctrine, which applies when an order effectively terminates a class action. Rather than parse the case law on that issue, we conclude that we have jurisdiction to treat this nonappealable order as a petition for writ of mandate in this unusual case because: (1) the unconscionability issue is one of law based on undisputed facts and has been fully briefed; (2) the record is sufficient to consider the issue and it appears that the trial court would be only a nominal party; (3) if we were to dismiss the appeal, and the ultimate reversal of the order is inevitable, it would come in a post-arbitration award after the substantial time and expense of arbitrating the dispute; and (4) as a result, dismissing the appeal would require the parties to arbitrate nonarbitrable claims and would be costly and dilatory.

The Court concluded that the arbitration agreement was unconscionably one-sided because (1) it exempted from arbitration claims the employer would more likely bring, such as claims for injunctive or equitable relief from trade secret disclosures; (2) it limited the time to demand arbitration to a period shorter than the relevant statutes of limitation; (3) it retained the statute of limitations period for itself  and (4) it suggested that the arbitrator had the discretion not to award mandatory attorney’s fees under the Labor Code.

The Court determined that it was not violating Concepcion by enforcing Armendariz’s bilaterality rule:

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Central District Strikes Opposition Filed by Terminated Former Co-Counsel in Putative Class Action

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In the latest round of an apparent falling out between law firms, the Central District of California struck a terminated firm’s  request to strike the notice of its termination, and considered but did not rule on the remaining firm’s alleged ethics violations.  Yumul v. Smart Balance, Inc., No. CV 10-00927 MMM (AJWx), 2010 WL 4352723 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 8, 2010).

Background

Plaintiff Rebecca Yumul filed a notice of termination of counsel, terminating Beck & Lee Business Trial Lawyers (“Beck & Lee”) as her counsel.  Id. *1. The notice was filed by Beck & Lee’s former co-counsel, the Weston firm (“Weston”), which continues to represent Yumul.  Id. Beck & Lee filed a pleading requesting that the court strike the notice of termination, alleging ethical violations by the Weston, and seeking Weston’s disqualification. Id. Beck & Lee asserts that Weston has filed a suit in the Southern District of California to determine the validity of the Joint Prosecution Agreement (“JPA”) that governed Beck & Lee’s co-counsel relationship with Weston in this and other class actions. Id. Yumul filed an ex parte application to strike Beck & Lee’s filings. Id.

Motion to Strike Terminated Counsel’s Opposition

The court granted plaintiff’s motion to strike Beck & Lee’s opposition to the notice of termination on the grounds that it interferes with her absolute right to discharge her attorney.  Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Second District Affirms Denial of Certification of Class of Junk Fax Recipients for Lack of Ascertainability

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The Second District affirmed denial of certification of a class of recipients of unsolicited faxes. Law Offices of Hermez Moreno v. Travelcomm Industries, Inc., B214807, 2010 WL 3610131 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Sept. 17, 2010).  Plaintiff and appellant Law Offices of Hermez Moreno brought a putative class action under 47 United States Code section 227, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), and Business and Professions Code 17538.43 alleging that defendants and respondents Travelcomm Industries, Inc. and others had sent unsolicited faxes.  Id. *1.  The trial court denied class certification based on findings that plaintiff had failed to present substantial evidence that a community of interest existed such that common questions of law and fact would predominate. As a separate basis, the court found that appellant had failed to present substantial evidence that the class was ascertainable. Id. Plaintiff appealed.  Id. *1. Read the rest of this entry »

Second District Holds That Omission of Source of Base Price From Which Discount Taken Is Harmless

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The Second District Court of Appeal, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor a Restoration Hardware, Inc. (RHI) for alleged misrepresentations of the price of RHI’s merchandise at its discount outlet stores.  Heller v. Restoration Hardware, Inc.,  B215218, 2010 WL 3387506 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 30, 2010).   Plaintiff alleged that RHI outlet stores engaged in a practice of misrepresenting the actual discounts given on furniture.  Id. *1.  Plaintiff contended she purchased at an outlet store an advertised “Del Mar” outdoor chair, which had an original retail price of $750 from which a percentage discount was taken, when in fact the price in RHI’s catalog and on the internet at its website was $685.  Id. Plaintiff’s complaint stated five causes of action: violations of the UCL, the FAL, the CLRA, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud and deceit.

The court affirmed, holding: Read the rest of this entry »

California Gift Certificate Law (Civ. Code § 1749.5) Preempted by Federal Airline Deregulation Act

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In Tanen v. Southwest Airlines Co., No. B217818., — Cal. Rptr. 3d —-, 2010 WL 3341969 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 26, 2010), the Second District held that California’s gift certificate law is preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act (“ADA”) as aplied to travel certificates.  Plaintiff and appellant Mitch Tanen (Tanen) bought a $100 travel certificate from defendant and respondent Southwest Airlines Co. (Southwest), but when he attempted to redeem it 14 months later, after its stated expiration date, Southwest refused to honor it.  Id. *1. Read the rest of this entry »

Term “Address” Under Corporations Code Encompasses Email Addresses

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The Court of Appeal for the Third District issued an important decision on Monday, holding that the term “addresses” in section 8330 of the Corporations Code encompasses email addresses.  Worldmark v. Wyndham Resort Development Corp., No. C061019, — Cal. Rptr. 3d —-, 2010 WL 3312607 (Cal. Ct. App. 3d Dist. Aug. 23, 2010).  The California Corporations Code grants members of a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation the right to inspect and copy, or obtain for a reasonable charge, the record of the names, addresses, and voting rights of the members of the corporation upon 10 business days’ written notice, provided it is for a purpose reasonably related to the person’s interest as a member. Corp. Code § 8330(a)(1)(2).   Read the rest of this entry »

Treble Recovery Under Civil Code § 3345 Not Limited to CLRA; But It Does Not Apply to an Award of Restitution Under the UCL

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In Clark v. Superior Court, 235 P.3d 171, 112 Cal. Rptr. 3d 876 (Cal. Aug. 9, 2010), senior citizens brought an action against an annuity seller for unfair competition pursuant to BPC 17200, seeking treble recovery.  The Los Angeles Superior Court granted judgment on the pleadings for the annuity seller’s on the treble recovery claim, without leave to amend. Read the rest of this entry »