In Cox v. Superior Court (Kernan), published July 22, 2016, the Third District Court of Appeal issued a writ directing the trial court to entertain the plaintiff's Government Code section 946.6 petition for relief from the Government Claim Act's claim-presentation requirements. The plaintiff, a pro per state prison inmate, filed a complaint for damages against the Department of Corrections, and the late-claim petition. The trial court struck the complaint and and ordered it refiled as a habeas corpus writ petition , then denied the petition.
The court ruled that while a court has discretion to treat one sort of writ petition as another when procedurally proper to do so, it may not do so in a way that limits the petitioner's legal remedies. A petitioner cannot seek damages via habeas petition, so the trial court could not reclassify the complaint or petition as seeking habeas relief.