Constitutional Law

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This decision holds that there is a constitutional limit on aggregate statutory damage awards even if the statutory damage per violation passes constitutional muster.  An aggregate damage award may exceed due process limits in extreme situations—that is, when they are “wholly disproportioned” and “obviously unreasonable” in relation to the goals of the statute and the conduct the statute prohibits.  Constitutional… Read More

The defendant's application to the IRS to qualify an organization as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization was a protected activity under CCP 425.16(e)(1) or (2).  It was a submission in an official proceeding before an executive agency whose action was not purely ministerial but involved the exercise of judgment and discretion.  By contrast, filing of articles of incorporation and a statement… Read More

To determine whether speech or other conduct falls within the scope of CCP 425.16(e)(4)'s catchall provision, the court must make a two-step analysis, first asking what public issue or issue of public interest the defendant's conduct or speech implicates, and second asking what functional relationship exists between the speech and the public conversation about that issue of public interest--i.e., whether… Read More

The trial court correctly denied defendants' Anti-SLAPP motion to strike plaintiff's claims under the UCL and CLRA based on defendants' allegedly false statements in releases or other statements and advertisements that Michael Jackson was the lead artist on all tracks in a posthumous CD.  Even if the defendants' statements were protected speech under CCP 425.16(e), plaintiff showed a probability of… Read More

A plaintiff may apply to the court for leave to proceed by a fictitious name if privacy concerns outweigh the First Amendment interest in public access to judicial proceedings.  Here, the employee on whose behalf DFEH sued for employment discrimination said that revealing his identity and caste would subject him and his family to discrimination and jeopardize their safety in… Read More

A public entity (school board) violated plaintiff's First Amendment rights by blocking him from posting on the social media (Facebook) it used to communicate with constituents about public issues.  The page was a public forum.  Blocking plaintiff from using the page altogether was an overly broad restriction of his free speech.  Less restrictive measures would serve the entity's interest in… Read More

Four individuals protested the Golden Gate racetrack's allegedly improper treatment of race horses by sneaking onto the track, linking their arms by PVC pipes and lying across the track in a manner that prevented the racetrack from holding races.  The racetrack owner sued the four individuals for trespass and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, naming Direct Action as an… Read More

The female complainant in a university's disciplinary proceeding against a male student for alleged sexual assault on the complainant was not an indispensable party to the male student's mandate proceeding against the university for violating his due process rights in its proceedings which resulted in disciplining him.  While the complainant had an interest in the mandate proceeding, complete relief could… Read More

Despite CCP 1710.40'sopen-ended list of potential defenses to a sister state judgment, under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the statute does not and cannot create an opportunity to raise defenses to the merits of the underlying claims resolved in the sister state judgment. Thus, defenses based on a contract's arbitration, forum selection and choice of law clause could not… Read More

One union representing some of Antioch's employees brought an administrative grievance making the same claim as the retired employee plaintiff brought in this later suit--that the City was stinting them on contributions for their benefit to CalPers,  This decision holds that the due process limits on collateral estoppel keep it from operating to bar the current suit based on the… Read More

Flags often are raised as a form of government speech on government-owned property.  The government has the right to control its own speech including what flags it flies.  However, in this case, Boston allowed private groups to fly their flags from government-owned poles about 20 times a year.  Those flag-flying days were not government speech.  So on those days, the… Read More

As a Juul employee, Grove obtained stock options which he exercised to buy shares of Juul stock.  Grove sued Juul in California asserting a claim for the right to inspect Juul's books and records and also class and derivative claims against Juul's officers and directors.  The California court first stayed the inspection claim based on the forum selection clause in… Read More

Plaintiff did not allege an actionable equal protection claim based on a "class of one" discrimination.  To state such a claim, the plaintiff must allege facts showing it was treated differently from others who were similarly situated in all material respects.  Because they operate a materially different business model, at a significantly different price point, using new and different technology,… Read More

Austin's ordinance banning signs advertising goods or services not sold on the premises where the sign is located did not infringe sign owners' First Amendment rights.  Even though the ordinance required some examination of the contents of the advertising to determine whether it related to goods or services sold on the premises, the ordinance was facially content-neutral.  Austin's ’s on-/off-premises… Read More

Although procedural fairness does not prohibit the combination of the advocacy and adjudicatory functions within a single administrative agency, tasking the same individual with both roles violates the minimum constitutional standards of due process. The irreconcilable conflict between advocating for the agency on one hand, and being an impartial decisionmaker on the other, presents a particular combination of circumstances creating… Read More

This decision affirms a preliminary injunction issued against the California Attorney General and private parties preventing them from filing suit under Prop. 65 to require food manufacturers to give the standard Prop. 65 warning about acrylamide being a chemical supposedly "known" to cause cancer.  Under Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, 471 U.S. 626 (1985), the compelled speech (the required… Read More

A district court may approve a class action settlement that provides monetary relief only in the form of cy pres payments to non-parties, so long as distribution to class members is not possible and the recipients of the cy pres payments are appropriately chosen in light of the nature of the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, the objectives of the underlying statutes, and… Read More

AB 5 and its amended version Lab. Code 2778 et seq. does not violate the First or Fourteenth Amendments in its application to freelance journalists and others who supply creative content to newspapers, films and other media.  The regulation does not single out those engaged in speech for harsher treatment.  The exemption for some freelancers may not be as broad… Read More

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