It’s always frustrating when you have to litigate over issues stemming from a court’s failure to do something that it should have done or even was required to do. Just ask the Oakland Raiders, who saw their new trial order reversed because the trial judge’s order did not satisfy the Code of Civil Procedure. The issue also arises in California courts where the trial court fails to rule on objections to evidence in the context of a summary judgment motion. The consequences of such failure have been discussed on a number of blogs recently, and The Appellate Practitioner has an excellent post regarding the Supreme Court’s recent grant of review…
Appellate Powerhouse Launches Punitive Damages Blog
New to the blogroll is the California Punitive Damages blog, launched recently by appellate powerhouse Horvitz & Levy. I’m told by Curt Cutting, one of the regular contributors at the new blog (and, I’m pleased to say, a regular reader of The California Blog of Appeal), that besides covering appellate decisions on the topic, the blog will cover “proposed legislation, academic commentary, significant decisions from other jurisdictions, and anything else that relates to California punitive damages litigation.” Congratulations to you and your fellow contributors on your launch, Curt!
Discounted Third Party Purchase of Medical Account Doesn’t “Hanif-y” Plaintiff’s Recovery
Mention Hanif v. Housing Authority (1988) 200 Cal.App.3d 635 to a personal injury lawyer, and he’ll likely bristle. Hanif, along with Nishihama v. City and County of San Francisco (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 298, held that an injured tort plaintiff may recover only the amount of medical expenses he or she paid or incurred, even if the reasonable value of those services is much higher. Thus, a medical provider who writes down the bill or accepts a lesser amount from an insurer as payment in full effectively reduces the potential recovery of the plaintiff. Should the same rule apply if the medical provider sells the plaintiff’s account (including a lien against…
Judicial Council Soliciting Comments on Proposed Civil Jury Instruction Revisions
The Judicial Council of California is seeking comments on proposed changes to civil jury instructions regarding punitive damages. The proposed changes are intended to bring the instructions in line with the U. S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last February in Philip Morris USA v. Williams, which held that the imposition of punitive damages to punish a defendant for harm to non-parties is unconstitutional because it is a taking of property without due process. Go here for a link to the proposed changes, a link for the on-line submission of comments, and information for submitting comments by mail. The deadline for submissions is July 13, 2007.
Emotional Distress Damages for Statutory Habitability Action
In McNairy v. C. K. Realty, case no. B178918 (May 22, 2007), the Second District Court of Appeal holds that tenants may recover emotional distress damages in an action under Civil Code section 1942.4 against their landlord for breach of statutory habitability standards. Reasoning that the term “actual damages” in the statute (since amended, but still allowing for “actual damages”) has a plain meaning that includes emotional distress damages, the court rejects the landlord’s contention that emotional distress damages in such actions will lead to windfall recoveries. The statute requires severe and prolonged habitability problems, which naturally lead to inconvenience: Generally, the residential tenant who has suffered a breach of…