Plaintiff State sued defendant tuna companies

Procedural Posture

Plaintiff State sued defendant tuna companies, asserting violations of Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, and the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL). The Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco, California, dismissed the UCL cause of action and ruled that the companies were not required to provide any Proposition 65 warnings on their tuna products sold in California. The State appealed.

 

Overview

A trial lawyer represents a client, by defending them in a court of law or in legal proceedings, before a judge. The State alleged that the tuna companies distributed and sold canned tuna products in California without providing a clear and reasonable warning that the products contained methylmercury, a chemical known to cause reproductive harm. The trial court concluded that: (1) Proposition 65, as applied to the companies, was preempted because it conflicted with federal law; (2) the amount of methylmercury in canned tuna did not rise to the threshold level that would trigger the warning requirement for the chemical; and (3) virtually all methylmercury was naturally occurring, and the companies were therefore exempt from the warning mandates. The instant court upheld the judgment on the narrow ground that substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding that methylmercury was naturally occurring in canned tuna, thereby removing the companies from the reach of Proposition 65. The State confused evidence that there was no anthropogenic contribution to methylmercury in ocean fish with hypotheses concerning the source of methylmercury in the ocean. Every study that had tested whether methylmercury in tuna has anthropogenic contribution had concluded it was naturally occurring.

 

Outcome

The judgment was affirmed.

 

Procedural Posture

Appellant challenged the conviction of the Superior Court of Ventura County (California), of one count of felony grand theft under Cal. Penal Code § 487 following a jury trial. The jury determined that appellant falsely obtained $ 10,000 from a construction lender by misrepresenting to the lender that the money would be used to pay a specified licensed general contractor for supervising a construction project.

 

Overview

Appellant was convicted of felony grand theft following a jury trial. Appellant had convinced a lender that funds were for a general contractor when appellant performed the work himself. The court affirmed the conviction. Restriction of defense evidence was not an abuse of the trial court’s discretion. The prosecution could establish theft on a false pretence theory because appellant procured the contract through fraud. Jury instructions on false pretense were appropriate, and the trial court did not have to instruct the jury on the victim’s reliance beyond what was already in the standard instructions. The inclusion of standard instructions on embezzlement was harmless error because the inclusion merely forced the prosecution to a heightened burden of proof. The instructions on Cal. Penal Code § 484c quoting the statute were appropriate. The trial court was correct in refusing appellant’s requested instructions on a claim of right defense to embezzlement because appellant’s conduct did not conform with the defense. The trial court was correct not to instruct the jury to limit consideration of appellant’s prior misdemeanors because appellant failed to request such instructions.

 

Outcome

The court affirmed the trial court’s conviction of appellant of felony grand theft because the trial court’s refusal to admit some of appellant’s evidence was within its discretion. The trial court correctly excluded jury instructions about the victim’s reliance on appellant’s false pretences, and, although some instructions concerning embezzlement given to the jury were inappropriate, it was harmless error.




Skip to toolbar