November 2020 Update
The current update includes changes throughout this publication that reflect recent developments in case law, legislation, court rules, and administrative procedures. Summarized below are some of the more important developments included in this update since publication of the 2018 update.
Certain procedures and deadlines may be affected by the California Rules of Court Emergency Rules Related to COVID-19, such as Rule 3 (“Use of Technology for Remote Appearances”), Rule 5 (“Personal Appearance Waivers of Defendants During Health Emergency”), and Rule 7 (“Emergency Orders: Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings”). The latest version of the Emergency Rules can be viewed at https://www.courts.ca.gov/43820.htm.
Discovery. Effective January 1, 2020, under CCP §2016.090, litigants have the option of stipulating to the exchange of initial disclosures related to witnesses, supporting documents, and insurance information. If the court issues an order under that stipulation, those disclosures must be completed before routine discovery can be commenced. See §4.13.
Postconviction consequences. Effective January 1, 2021, a three-tiered sex offender registration system replaces the current Pen C §290. See Stats 2017, ch 541 (SB 384) in §§6.56, 6.58.
Limitations on general damages. An intentional tortfeasor is not entitled to a reduction or apportionment of noneconomic damages under CC §1431.2. See B.B. v County of Los Angeles (2020) 10 C5th 1 in §7.48.
General characteristics of employer-employee relationship. The California legislature has codified the “ABC” test of Dynamex Operations W., Inc. v Superior Court (2018) 4 C5th 903 in adding Lab C §§2775–2787. See §§9.4–9.5.
Overtime and minimum wage requirements. In Goonewardene v ADP, LLC (2019) 6 C5th 817, the California Supreme Court held that, in a lawsuit based on unpaid overtime, employees did not have viable claims for breach of contract, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation against the outside vendor that performed payroll services under a contract with the employer. See §9.35.
Health and safety disclosures. Under Health & S C §§25400.10–25400.47, a property owner has specific disclosure, remediation, and recordkeeping obligations if the owner has been notified by a local health officer that the property is contaminated by methamphetamine or fentanyl. See §§11.2, 12.47.
Termination for tenant’s breach of rental agreement. Unlawful detainer actions are subject to the COVID–19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (CCP §§1179.01–1179.07) if the default in payment of rent, or neglect or failure to perform other conditions or covenants of the lease or agreement, is based on the COVID–19 rental debt. This act is repealed on February 1, 2025. CCP §1179.07. See §§11.78, 11.86. In addition, until January 1, 2021, it is also unlawful for a lessor to bring an action for unlawful detainer based on a cause of action other than nonpayment of COVID–19 rental debt for the purpose of retaliating against the lessee because the lessee has a COVID–19 rental debt. See §§11.79–11.80.
Transfer fees. Effective January 1, 2019, CC §1098.6 prohibits the creation of new transfer fees unless they provide a direct benefit to the property as required under federal law. See §12.39.
Automatic stay in bankruptcy. Sanctions are not appropriate if the creditor had an objectively reasonable basis for believing that the creditor’s actions did not violate the discharge. See Taggart v Lorenzen (2019) ___ US ___, 139 S Ct 1795, in §13.30.
Chapter 13 cases. Effective until March 27, 2021, “disposable income” does not include payments received under federal law relating to the COVID–19 pandemic. In addition, effective until March 27, 2021, the plan may be modified if the debtor is experiencing or has experienced a material financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID–19 pandemic. See 11 USC §§1325, 1329 in §§13.60, 13.65.
Retirement plans in trusts and estates. Effective January 1, 2020, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019 (Pub L 116–94, 133 Stat 2534) eliminates “stretch payments” from IRAs to any beneficiary other than an “eligible designated beneficiary.” See §15.39.