Were you able to keep track of the new legislative changes that will affect California civil litigators? Don’t worry, we did and here’s an overview of some of the key statutory changes you need to know about.
- No secrecy for the perpetrator in civil actions involving a sex offense.
Sex offense perpetrators soon won’t be able to hide behind confidentiality provisions. A new law will void any provision in a settlement agreement that prevents the disclosure of the facts underlying a civil claim for a felony sex offense, an act of childhood sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a minor, or an act of sexual assault against an elder or dependent adult. And any attorney who demands such a provision will face professional discipline. This goes for the courts, too: They can’t order that such facts be kept confidential. But this new law doesn’t apply to information about the victim. CCP §1002, as amended by Stats. 2016, ch 876, AB 1682 (effective January 1, 2017).
- Producing electronically stored information isn’t enough; it has to be accessible too.
Producing information that the requesting party can’t access isn’t really producing it at all. Soon deponents who produce electronically stored information under a deposition notice or a subpoena will have to make it accessible by either (1) giving the requesting party a means to gain direct access to password-protected information, or (2) providing a translation of the information into a reasonably useable form. CCP §2025.280, as amended by Stats. 2016, ch 467, AB 2427 (effective January 1, 2017).
- New deadline for expert document production.
No more being handed a pile of an expert’s materials at his or her deposition. Soon an expert served with a deposition notice requiring production of any materials, including electronically stored information, will have to produce those materials at least three business days before his or her deposition. CCP §2034.415, added by Stats. 2016, ch 467, AB 2427 (effective January 1, 2017).
- No more dragging California employees’ disputes out of California!
A new law stops employers from requiring that employees who primarily live and work in California agree to litigate or arbitrate claims against the employer somewhere other than California or agree to apply law other than California’s to their employment disputes. Any contract provision that violates this law is voidable by the employee, unless he or she negotiated the employment contract through counsel. Disputes on the contract provisions also have to be adjudicated in California under California law. And adding some teeth to it, employees enforcing rights under this new law are entitled to reasonable attorney fees, in addition to injunctive relief and any other available remedies. Lab C §925, added by Stats. 2016, ch 632, SB 1241 (effective January 1, 2017).
- Yes, you can use court reporters to record arbitration proceedings.
A new law states expressly that a party to an arbitration has the right to have a certified shorthand reporter transcribe any deposition, proceeding, or hearing as the official record. The law sets out how a party requests a court reporter and, if the arbitrator refuses that request, that the party may petition the court to compel the arbitrator to grant it. CCP §1282.5, added by Stats. 2016, ch 626, SB 1007 (effective January 1, 2017).
- E-Filing fees getting capped. Good news ─ there won’t be price gouging on e-filing! The amount that private e-filing firms can charge for court filings can’t exceed the actual costs incurred for processing the payment. Wondering how anyone will know what the actual costs really are? Firms that allow payment by credit or debit card or electronic funds transfer will have to report their payment costs and then provide the Judicial Council (or its authorized representative) with access to their records. CCP §1010.6, as amended by stats. 2016, ch 461, AB 2244 (effective January 1, 2017).
- Serving someone in a gated community will soon get easier for public investigators.
It won’t be just representatives of a county sheriff or marshal who can get access to gated communities to serve process or a subpoena. Soon public investigators employed by an office of the Attorney General, a county counsel, a city attorney, a district attorney, or a public defender will be granted the same access. CCP §415.21, as amended by Stats. 2016, ch 88, SB 1431 (effective January 1, 2017).
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