Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Fitch v. Select Products Co. (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Aug. 1, 2005)

Various academic commentators have relentlessly criticized the California Supreme Court for writing opinions that are allegedly too lengthy. Personally, I think this critique is a little bit overblown, and would much prefer an opinion that contains too much analysis to one that contains too little. Nonetheless, the critique has undoubtedly had some influence on the Court, which has been slowly (but surely) reducing the size of its opinions.

This one will be quite good for the Court's average, since it's only ten double-spaced pages. Which is, quite frankly, all the (unanimous) Court needed, notwithstanding the fact that it was reversing the decision of the Court of Appeal. Indeed, at some level, I thought that Justice Kennard could have ended her opinion after the very first paragraph, which was: "May a Medi-Cal lien for costs incurred in treating a decedent's final illness be asserted against a recovery in a wrongful death action when that recovery does not and could not include those medical expenses? The answer is 'no'."

Yep. That pretty much says it all. The remaining nine pages simply assure the reader that this isn't a distorted way of framing the question. Which it isn't.