In Luckey v. Superior Court (Cotton On USA, Inc.), ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (July 22, 2014), the parties stipulated to appointment of a temporary judge to rule on the motions for preliminary and final approval of a class action settlement. (The proposed temporary judge was the mediator retained to assist in negotiating the settlement.) The trial court refused to approve the stipulation. The plaintiff challenged this ruling by filing a writ petition. Slip op. at 2, 8.
The Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Three) declined to disturb the trial court's ruling, holding that until a class is certified, the named plaintiff "has no authority to consent to a temporary judge on behalf of the putative class." Id. at 2. The Court reasoned that the absent class members were not "parties litigant" within the meaning of the provision of the California Constitution authorizing stipulations to temporary judges:
[W]hile Luckey and [defendant] Cotton On were the only “parties litigant” at the time of the stipulation to the temporary judge, they were also the only parties who could be bound by such a stipulation. As the conceded purpose of the stipulation was to bind all putative class members to the stipulation, and they could not be bound until they had been given notice and an opportunity to appear, the stipulation was ineffective. The state Constitution provides that, for a stipulation to a temporary judge to be effective, that stipulation must be made by the parties litigant. In a pre-certification class action, the parties litigant have not yet been identified; thus, no such stipulation can be effectively made.
Slip op. at 22-23 (footnotes omitted).
On a personal note, I completed my office move at the end of June and my new physical and mailing address is as follows:
The Kralowec Law Group
180 Montgomery Street, Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94104
I am sharing office space with Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky LLP, which has been great so far.