Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Blue Cross of California v. Equiltox (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 20, 2022)

I have waited in vain today for a meaty published opinion that I felt like talking about. There was nothing from the Ninth Circuit today -- not even a "No Opinions Filed Today" notice -- and the two cases thus far from the Court of Appeal were fine, but not scintillating (to me, anyway).

On days like that, sometimes, I go ahead and check out the unpublished opinions from down here in San Diego. If only to entertain myself.

And when I did, for a moment, I thought I had accidentally clicked the wrong button. Actually, for quite a bit longer than a moment.

The latest unpublished opinion -- and hence the one I first read -- was this one. But when I looked at the caption, I thought that I must have somehow pulled up cases from the wrong division. Because I wanted to see cases from the 4/1 (San Diego), and yet this opinion clearly states right on the caption that it's from Orange County. That's in the 4/3.

So I went back and pulled up the cases again, making extra sure I pulled up only those from the 4/1.

Yet there was the opinion again.

Then I double-checked the top of the caption. Where it says, quite clearly, "COURT OF APPEAL, FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT, DIVISION ONE."

But what? The case is from Orange County. Judge Servino. What's up?

I read the whole opinion trying to figure out the scoop. No dice. The opinion mentions that the present case is related to a different one. But that one's from Orange County was well. Yet that one, too, seems to have a case number that starts with D. Meaning, yet again, the 4/1.

To reiterate: What's an Orange County case doing in the 4/1? Did the 4/1 do a hostile takeover of the 4/3, and if so, how come I never knew about it until today?

So I pull up the docket sheet for both the current case and the previous related case. At which point I see a reference to an intradistrict transfer order.in both cases (here and here). A transfer order that was entered shortly after the appeals were initially filed.

Okay, so now (1) I know I'm not crazy, and (2) that the case was indeed transferred.

But I still am left completely puzzled as to why.

It's not like the cases have anything whatsoever (as far as I can tell) to do with San Diego. It's a case brought by Blue Cross (which is everywhere) against a company called Equaltox, with a proposed intervenor -- the movant and appellant -- from Los Angeles (the "LA Good Samaritan Pathology Group").

So, again: Why San Diego?

My initial thought was that, maybe, the OC justices were simply busy, so as an administrative matter, maybe some cases were thrown down to SD. That might perhaps in part explain how the intradistrict transfer order was entered so rapidly in both cases.

But then I looked up the actual rule that authorizes intradistrict transfers. Which only made me even more confused. Because I'd have thought that the presiding judge would be the one to make such an administrative order (if one was indeed required). Yet the rule doesn't allow that. Not for workload reasons, anyway. The only reason the PJ had order an intradistrict transfer is because (1) there's an earlier related cases in the other division, which I don't see anywhere here, or (2) due to recusals that leave less than three judges available in the initial division, which seems utterly implausible for this run-of-the-mill appeal. 

So, if true, that leaves only the California Supreme Court as the entity that could authorize the transfer. But I don't recall reading or hearing anything about that anywhere. Did I miss something? (To be clear: that's totally plausible, I just don't remember anything like that happening.)

Anyway, it's now almost 3:00 p.m., and I have to pick up my youngest from school. So it remains a mystery to me how this OC case somehow makes its way to the Court of Appeal in SD.

If anyone out there knows, shoot me a line. I've love to hear the deats.