In early March, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a consumer alert on price gouging. Two weeks later, police in San Diego arrested eight people for price gouging. The same week, investigations by Sacramento authorities prompted new warnings from local authorities. Since then, both the Governor and Attorney General have indicated price gouging will remain top of mind. Typically, price gouging laws extend for short periods — weeks or a month — but we now know that California price gouging rules will remain in effect through September.
California overhauled its Rules of Professional Conduct effective November 1, 2018. This post highlights some impactful revisions for commercial litigators. However, all California lawyers should familiarize themselves with the sixty-nine new and revised rules.
In September, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) announced that it had adopted amendments to the regulations governing California’s Proposition 65, which requires that businesses provide a “clear and reasonable warning” before exposing an individual to any chemicals that California has determined cause cancer or reproductive harm. Although a business can create its own warning and hope that a court will conclude it is “clear and reasonable,” OEHHA has promulgated a series of regulations establishing a so-called “safe harbor” — warnings that are considered per se clear and reasonable. So, although OEHHA dubs the safe harbor warnings as “non-mandatory guidance,” for any company not willing to bear the risk of creating its own warning, the “safe harbor” regulations are de facto requirements.
In Baral v. Schnitt, the California Supreme Court addressed a question that has divided California appellate courts for more than a decade: whether a special motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute (C.C.P. 425.16) can be granted with respect to a “mixed cause of action” that combines allegations concerning both protected conduct, i.e., the rights of petition and free speech, and unprotected activity.
The California Court of Appeal recently ruled that an inspection demand under California Corporations Code section 1601 requires a corporation to make its books and records available for inspection at an office where they normally are kept, rather than at an office in California. Innes v. Diablo Controls, Inc.. Section 1601, likely familiar to most California corporations, permits inspection by shareholders of a corporation’s accounting books and records and shareholder and board proceeding minutes, and provides that the relevant records be open to inspection “at any reasonable time during usual business hours.” Diablo Controls is a California corporation that maintained certain of its records at a corporate office in Illinois. The appellant shareholders sought an order compelling the corporation to make its books and records available for inspection at a Diablo Controls office in California.
Consistent filing and service procedures will become less of an oxymoron in California – especially for those legal practitioners who appear in the state’s appellate courts. E-filing is currently not mandatory in most cases in appellate courts, but soon will be uniformly required, except for pro-se litigants. The State’s trial courts, California Superior Courts, can choose to implement e-filing if they do not already require it. New standard e-filing and e-service rules will become effective January 1, 2017. Those resentful of mid-afternoon traffic rejoice. Messengers and couriers beware.