Thursday, February 01, 2018

Gonzalez v. Lew (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 1, 2018)

This opinion is a good candidate to go up to the California Supreme Court.

Not that the Court of Appeal is necessarily wrong.  But the decision here has a fair amount of tension with other California appellate cases.  Today's opinion validates a Section 998 offer that was jointly made by multiple plaintiffs.  Normally, however, joint offers like that are invalid, since they don't allocate liability, so the reasoning of this opinion stands in stark contrast to the holding of those other authorities.

So it might make sense to straighten this out.  Especially since (1) 998 offers are pretty routine, and (2) there's a real value to a bright-line rule here, rather than having the result depend on what panel you end up getting on appeal.  Lawyers should know whether these types of offers are valid.  And having a clear rule may be equally (if not more) important as having a rule that makes good policy.

Plus, as an added bonus, granting review would mean that the California Supreme Court could take out the double negative.  Check out the heading on page 22:  "4. The plaintiffs’ joint settlement offer was not invalid."  You can probably change those last two words to "valid," right?

Lest we confront physical violence from our high school English teacher.