Articles Posted in California Supreme Court

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Kevin Reilly was originally committed as a sexually violent predator (SVP) in 2000. In 2008, the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sought a petition for recommitment. Two evaluators evaluated Reilly under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) and concluded he was an SVP. The Office of Administrative Law subsequently determined that the initial evaluations supporting the petition were conducted under an assessment protocol that amounted to an invalid regulation. The evaluators subsequently re-evaluated Reilly based on In re Ronje, this time concluding that he no longer met the criteria for commitment as an SVP. The court of appeal subsequently dismissed the SVPA commitment petition based on Ronje, which ordered replacement evaluations in these circumstances without requiring a determination that the underlying mistake in the assessment protocol amounted to material error. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Ronje decision was error; (2) an alleged SVP must show that any fault that did occur under the assessment protocol contained a material error; and (3) the court of appeal erroneously dismissed the petition against Reilly without requiring a finding of material error. View "Reilly v. Superior Court of Orange County" on Justia Law

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Public school students with diabetes who cannot self-administer insulin are entitled under federal law to have it administered to them during the school day at no cost. In 2007, the State Department of Education (Department) issued a legal advisory authorizing unlicensed school personnel to administer insulin. The American Nurses Association and other trade organizations representing registered and school nurses (collectively, Nurses) challenged the document by filing this action seeking declaratory relief and a writ of mandate, asserting that the Department's advice condoned the unauthorized practice of nursing. The superior court declared the advisory invalid to the extent it authorized unlicensed school personnel to administer insulin. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that California law expressly permits trained, unlicensed school personnel to administer prescription medications such as insulin in accordance with the written statements of a student's treating physician and parents and expressly exempts persons who thus carry out physicians' medical orders from laws prohibiting the unauthorized practice of nursing. View "Am. Nurses Ass'n v. Torlakson" on Justia Law

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The City of Riverside declared, by zoning ordinances, that medical marijuana dispensaries were prohibited within the City. Invoking these provisions, the City brought a nuisance action against a facility operated by Defendants. The trial court issued a preliminary injunction against the distribution of marijuana from the facility. The court of appeal affirmed. Defendants appealed, arguing that the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) preempted the City's total ban on facilities that cultivated and distributed medical marijuana in compliance with the CUA and MMP. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that California's medical marijuana statutes do not expressly or impliedly preempt the authority of California cities and counties, under their traditional land use and police powers, to allow, restrict, limit, or entirely exclude facilities that distribute medical marijuana, and to enforce such policies by nuisance actions. View "City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Ctr., Inc." on Justia Law

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Six days after his birth, Plaintiff suffered irreversible brain damage. Through his mother as guardian ad litem, Plaintiff sued his pediatrician and the hospital in which he was born. Before trial, Plaintiff and the pediatrician agreed to settlement of $1 million. At a jury trial, Plaintiff was awarded both economic and noneconomic damages. The jury found the pediatrician was fifty-five percent at fault and the hospital forty percent at fault. The court of appeal reversed the portion of the trial court's judgment awarding Plaintiff economic damages against the hospital after applying the common law "release rule," under which Plaintiff's settlement with the pediatrician also released the nonsettling hospital from liability for Plaintiff's economic damages. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the common law release rule is no longer to be followed in California; and (2) therefore, the defendant hospital remained jointly and severally liable for Plaintiff's economic damages. View "Leung v. Verdugo Hills Hosp." on Justia Law

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This case arose when plaintiff was seriously injured in an automobile accident negligently caused by a driver for defendant. At issue was whether an injured person could recover from the tortfeasor, as economic damages for past medical expenses, the undiscounted sum stated in the medical care provider's bill but never paid by or on behalf of the injured person. The court held that the collateral source rule, which precluded deduction of compensation the plaintiff had received from sources independent of the tortfeasor from damages the plaintiff "would otherwise collect from the tortfeasor" ensured that plaintiff here could recover in damages the amounts her insurer paid for her medical care. The rule, however, had no bearing on amounts that were included in a provider's bill but for which the plaintiff never incurred liability because the provider, by prior agreement, accepted a lesser amount as full payment. Such sums were not damages the plaintiff would otherwise have collected from the defendant and were neither paid to the providers on the plaintiff's behalf nor paid to the plaintiff in indemnity of his or her expenses. Therefore, because they did not represent an economic loss for the plaintiff, they were not recoverable in the first instance. The collateral source rule precluded certain deductions against otherwise recoverable damages, but did not expand the scope of economic damages to include expenses the plaintiff never incurred.

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In this case, the court addressed the remedies available to a patient when a debt collector, acting on behalf of a medical professional, was asserted to have illegally disclosed confidential patient information to various consumer reporting agencies in the course of a dispute over an alleged medical debt. At issue was whether all state law claims arising from the furnishing of information to consumer reporting agencies were preempted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. 1681t(b)(1)(F). The court concluded that, because of the dual state and federal responses to the protection of an individual's privacy and accuracy interests, when the interests overlap, as in this case, the question of what remedies were available was a federalism problem. The court subsequently held that Congress did not intend for the state remedies to be preempted. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.