April 28, 2011

Cal. Supreme Court dismisses review in Nelson v. Exxon Mobil (assignability of punitive damages)

The Supreme Court has granted Exxon Mobil's motion to dismiss review in Nelson v. Exxon Mobil, which raised the question whether punitive damages claims could be assignable in certain circumstances.  The text of the order (which you can view on the court's on-line docket) confirms that the motion was part of a settlement between the parties.  The docket does not indicate that either party has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the published status of the Court of Appeal's opinion, so the opinion remains depublished and nonprecedential.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court had to appoint a temporary justice (Presiding Justice Barbara Jones of the First Appellate District) to rule on the motion to dismiss.  As noted in our prior post, the court is short-handed due to the retirement of Justice Moreno, and three of the remaining six justices on the court were recused from participating in this case.  So a temporary justice was needed to provide the fourth vote necessary to dismiss review.

Today's Daily Journal (subscription required) has a story about the dismissal, as an illustration of the complications created by the open seat on the court.

Related posts:

Exxon Mobil asks California Supreme Court to dismiss case on assignability of punitive damages

California Supreme Court grants review in case involving assignability of punitive damages

Nelson v. Exxon Mobil: punitive damages claims can be assigned