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CA Supreme Court Unanimously Holds: No Jury Trial under H&S Code section 1278.5

by D. Gregory Valenza | | 04/10/2017

I can’t blog about this in detail, because, well, it’s our case. #HumbleBrag  Quickly though – the California Supreme Court just held, 7-0, that there is no jury trial available under Health and Safety Code section 1278.5.  Naturally, we’re pleased about this result.  However, the Court also held that a plaintiff can have a jury trial by pleading a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.   So the Court taketh away and the Court giveth. 

On the surface, this seems like a non-event. But it is highly significant for hospital employers, because section 1278.5 applies to non-employees who can’t sue for wrongful termination. The statute also is broader than a wrongful termination claim with respect to the potential defendants.  Wrongful termination claims don’t provide for attorney’s fees, and carry with them a 2-year limitations period rather than 3.  So, the case is significant even for employment law practitioners. 

Separately, we lost 7-0 on a procedural issue that will be important for the appellate bar. The Court held that the denial of jury trial is reviewable by writ, and overruled some old decisions that had held that a post-judgment appeal is the proper vehicle for review. We had argued that a writ was precluded by the Court’s earlier decisions. 

Anyway, I’ll let you read the analysis of others, given the case is still active  Here is the opinion in Shaw v. Superior Court.

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