Thursday, November 21, 2019
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Div. Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, in an unpublished opinion with an unusual procedural underpinning, has rejected the view of the appellant that her appeal is moot and must be dismissed.
Justice Thomas M. Goethals wrote the opinion, filed Tuesday. It reverses a discovery order by Orange Superior Court Judge Linda S. Marks which the plaintiff appealed, which the parties subsequently agreed was faulty, and was corrected by the judge to their mutual satisfaction.
While the discovery dispute is settled, Goethals said, there can’t be a dismissal of the appeal. He wrote:
“ ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a famous work of Shakespeare. It is also an accurate description of this appellate dispute—which ostensibly concerns the propriety of a court order allowing plaintiff Kristy Jones the right to inspect the books, records, and documents of Southern California Addiction Center (SCAC). We say ‘ostensibly’ because the parties agree the trial court’s initial order allowing the inspection was overbroad since it failed to exclude documents that were protected by the attorney-client privilege. Thus, Jones did not oppose SCAC’s subsequent motions in the trial court to cure that overbreadth, which were heard while this appeal was pending. The parties then agreed to the trial court’s curative orders which rendered this appeal moot.”
But, he said, it isn’t really moot, explaining:
“We deny Jones’s motion to dismiss because—in a surprise twist worthy of the Bard himself—the appeal is not moot…because the trial court had no jurisdiction to stay or modify an order that was already pending on appeal.”
Rather than dismissing the appeal, the court reversed. Goethals declared that Marks’s “orders staying and then granting relief from the portion of the order allowing inspection of privileged documents were void” and instructed that the Superior Court “modify its order in terms identical to those it earlier attempted to impose during the pendency of this appeal.”
The case is Jones v. Southern California Addiction Center, Inc., G056906.
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