California Supreme Court Decision in Brinker Delayed

The California Supreme Court may generally take as long as it likes to decide a case.  The only semi-firm deadline is created by California Rule of Court 8.524(h)(1), providing that a case is deemed "submitted" upon completion of oral argument, and the Constitutional requirement to decide a matter within 90 days of submission (See Cal. Const. Article IV, Sec. 9).

The completion of oral arguments in Brinker v. Superior Court on November 9, 2011 thus stoked expectations that the blockbuster meal break and class action issues raised in the case were finally on the verge of resolution after more than three years on the Supreme Court's docket.

But not so fast . . . the Supreme Court has now ordered further briefing and has vacated the "submitted" status of the case.  Under this latest order the case will be deemed "resubmitted" on January 13, 2012.  This gives the court until at least April 12, 2012 to issue its decision.

This delay is frustrating for all the courts, attorneys, and parties who are awaiting some clarity on these thorny legal issues.  

However, I do find it interesting that the further briefing ordered by the court concerns the extent to which its ultimate decision may apply prospectively only.  To me this suggests that: (a) The Court's decision will not merely uphold the (pro-employer) decision below; and (b) The opinion will set forth a new and detailed quasi-legislative standard for determining whether an employer has successfully provided timely and realistic meal and rest breaks to its employees.  

   

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