Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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Ingraham filed a petition for writ of mandate alleging that a mixed-use commercial and affordable housing development project failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Then Ingraham filed an amended petition abandoning its CEQA claim and alleging instead that the city's failure to hold a hearing on its appeal violated a Los Angeles Municipal Code provision requiring the Area Planning Commission to hold a hearing prior to deciding an appeal. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment sustaining 7th & Witmer and the city's joint demurrer. The court rejected Ingraham's contention that the statute of limitations in Government Code section 65009(c)(1) did not apply because there was no "decision" on its appeal, no "legislative body" made a ruling, and absurd results would ensue if it did. The court held that the three-year general statute of limitations in Code of Civil Procedure section 338(a) could not be harmonized with the shorter, more specific limitations period in section 65009(c)(1). Therefore, section 65009(c)(1) was controlling in this case. View "1305 Ingraham, LLC v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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The board of directors of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (District) passed a resolution to apply to the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (Commission) to dissolve the District. A group of Julian residents (plaintiffs) sought to prevent the District's dissolution by presenting a referendum petition to the District board. The District did not act on the referendum petition, and the trial court denied plaintiffs' petition for writ of mandate to set an election on the District's resolution. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal was whether the District's resolution to apply to the Commission for a dissolution could be challenged through the voter referendum process. The Court concluded the District's resolution was not subject to referendum because, among other reasons, the Reorganization Act prescribed the exclusive method for dissolving, and/or protesting the proposed dissolution of, a fire protection district and the resolution was administrative in nature under the Reorganization Act. Accordingly, the trial court did not err, and the judgment was affirmed. View "Southcott v. Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection Dist." on Justia Law

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Given the plain language of California's open meeting law (the Ralph M. Brown Act), Government Code 54954.3(a), and its legislative history, the Brown Act does not permit limiting comment at special city council meetings based on comments at prior, distinct committee meetings. In this case, petitioner sought a writ of mandate and a declaratory judgment enforcing the Brown Act. The trial court sustained the City's demurrer without leave to amend, and entered a judgment of dismissal. The Court of Appeal reversed, and held that plaintiff stated a claim for a writ of mandate and declaratory relief with regard to the Brown Act. The court held that the trial court erred in holding that the committee exception in Government Code 54954.3(a) applied to special meetings. Rather, the plain language of section 54954.3(a) specified that the committee exception applied only to regular meetings. The court held that plaintiff adequately alleged a claim that he was improperly denied the opportunity to comment on the agenda item at a special meeting, and a pattern of conduct by the City at special city council meetings in violation of the Brown Act. The court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the California Public Records Act count as duplicative of plaintiff's Brown Act claim. View "Preven v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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MTA filed suit against Yum Yum in eminent domain to take one of Yum Yum's donut shops that was in the path of a proposed rail line. The trial court determined that Yum Yum was not entitled to compensation for goodwill under Code of Civil Procedure section 1263.510, because Yum Yum unreasonably refused to relocate the shop to one of three sites MTA proposed at the entitlement trial. Based on section 1263.510's legislative history, accompanying Law Review Commission Comments, case law, and the general principles governing mitigation of damages, the Court of Appeal held that a condemnee is entitled to compensation for lost goodwill if any portion of that loss is unavoidable. The court held that a condemnee need only prove some or any unavoidable loss of goodwill to satisfy the condemnee's burden to demonstrate entitlement to compensation for goodwill under section 1263.510. In this case, the court held that the trial court erred in finding that Yum Yum's failure to mitigate some of its loss of goodwill precluded compensation for any loss of goodwill. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for a jury trial on the value of the lost goodwill. View "Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority v. Yum Yum Donut Shops" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging causes of action for violations of the Labor Code and the Industrial Welfare Commission's (IWC) wage orders based on the City's alleged failure to pay workers employed as pages and recreation leader specialists wages at or above the statewide minimum wage. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the trial court's dismissal of their action after it sustained without leave to amend the City's demurrer. The Court of Appeal held that legislation setting a statewide minimum wage, generally applicable to both private and public employees, addresses the state's interest in protecting the health and welfare of workers by ensuring they can afford the necessities of life for themselves and their families. Therefore, the Legislature may constitutionally exercise authority over minimum wages, despite the constitutional reservation of authority in charter cities to legislate as to their municipal affairs. In this case, the court held that the trial court erred in sustaining the City's demurrer where the state minimum wage law was designed to address a statewide concern for the health and welfare of workers and was reasonably related to its purpose. Furthermore, the application of the minimum wage requirement did not unconstitutionally impair the memorandum of understanding between plaintiffs and the City. View "Marquez v. City of Long Beach" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Millview acquired License 5763, which authorized the diversion of water from the Russian River for industrial use. In 2008, the Water Resources Control Board issued a notice of proposed revocation. At a 2013 hearing, Millview appeared through counsel, presented evidence, examined witnesses, and filed a brief. The Board issued a draft order revoking License 5763. After receiving written comments on the draft order, including Millview’s comments, the Board conducted a May 20, 2014, public meeting at which Millview gave an oral statement. The Board found the water at issue had not been put to beneficial use for a period of five years and formally adopted the draft order. Days later, Mona, a Board employee, e-mailed the order to participants, including Millview. The cover letter stated the statute of limitations for seeking reconsideration began to run from May 20. On June 2, Mona e-mailed a “Corrected Version” to the participants, including Millview, to reflect that the Chair was absent during the adoption of the order. The cover letter stated: “No later than 30 days after adoption of the corrected order, any interested person may petition ... for reconsideration.” On June 30, Millview filed a petition for writ of administrative mandamus, challenging the adequacy of the public hearing and the corrected order. The court of appeal concluded that the petition was time-barred under Water Code section 1126(b), rejecting an argument that the June 2 decision was the ‘final’ decision. View "Millview County Water District v. State Water Resources Control Board" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the superior ordering Dr. Kamyar Cohanshohet to produce the medical records of five of his patients in connection with an investigation into his prescription of controlled substances to those patients, holding that the State failed to demonstrate good cause to obtain those records. As part of an investigation into a complaint alleging that Dr. Cohanshohet improperly prescribed narcotics, subpoenas dues tecum were served on Dr. Cohanshohet for the medical records of five of his patients. Dr. Cohanshohet refused to comply with the subpoena, asserting his patients’ right to privacy. The Medical Board of California filed a petition for an order compelling the production of the requested medical records. The superior court judge granted the petition. Dr. Cohanshohet appealed, arguing, among other things, that the Board failed to establish good cause for its investigation because the records were not shown to be material or relevant to the investigation. The Court of Appeal agreed and reversed, holding that good cause was lacking to order compliance of the subpoenas. View "Grafilo v. Cohanshohet" on Justia Law

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Hany Dimitry obtained a coastal development permit (CDP) from the City of Laguna Beach (the City) to demolish his Laguna Beach house. Mark Fudge challenged the permit, appealing to the California Coastal Commission (the Commission), and at court, to attach the merits of the City’s decision to grant Dimitry the CDP. The Commission accepted Fudge’s appeal, which meant it would hear that appeal “de novo.” Because the Commission’s hearing would be “de novo,” the trial court followed Kaczorowski v. Mendocino County Bd. of Supervisors, 88 Cal.App.4th 564 (2001) and McAllister v. County of Monterey, 147 Cal.App.4th 253 (2007) in concluding that there was no relief that Fudge might be able to obtain in his court action. The trial court concluded Fudge’s challenge to Dimitry’s CDP was entirely in the hands of the Commission, and dismissed the civil action. Fudge appealed, arguing the Commission’s hearing was not going to be truly “de novo” because the Commission would use different rules and procedures than the City used. When it comes to a local coastal entity’s decision on a CDP, the Court of Appeal determined the Legislature constructed a system in which appeals to the Commission would be heard de novo under the Coastal Act even though the original local decision was decided under CEQA. “Fudge’s mistake lies in his belief the Legislature was bound by the Collier court’s observation about de novo hearings being conducted in ‘the same manner’ as the original. We must disagree. It’s the other way around.” The Court determined the Legislature was not bound by the California Supreme Court’s observation about the common law nature of “de novo” hearings. Rather the courts were bound by the intent of the Legislature as to what the hearings would look like – plainly expressed in Public Resources Code section 21080.5. Therefore, the Court affirmed dismissal of the state court action. View "Fudge v. City of Laguna Beach" on Justia Law

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In a prior appeal, the Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment denying A.K. Anderson’s petition for writ of mandate challenging the suspension of his driver’s license by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In that opinion, the Court concluded the record contained substantial evidence that Anderson had been diagnosed by a neurologist with a seizure disorder, and that he had voluntarily discontinued taking anti-seizure medication. After the first decision became final, Anderson submitted to the DMV a report prepared by a family practice physician that purported to demonstrate Anderson suffered from no medical ailments whatsoever, and that he required no medications. A traffic safety officer concluded the report did not demonstrate Anderson no longer suffered from a seizure disorder, and the officer ordered that Anderson’s license remain suspended. Anderson once again unsuccessfully petitioned the superior court for a writ of mandate challenging his original license suspension and the order refusing to lift the suspension. On appeal, Anderson again challenged the original suspension of his driver’s license, arguing the DMV could not refuse to reinstate his driver’s license under Vehicle Code section 12806 (c) because there was no evidence he suffered a seizure or a lapse of consciousness within the last three years. Because the Court of Appeal concluded the record contained substantial evidence that Anderson suffered from “a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness” as in the plain language of the statute, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Anderson v. Shiomoto" on Justia Law

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M.F., the son of Nicole W. and Stephen C., appealed orders at the 12-month review hearing under Welfare & Institutions Code section 366.21 (f) directing the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to extend the reunification period for an additional six-month period and setting the 18-month review hearing more than 23 months from the date he first entered foster care. M.F. challenged the juvenile court's finding that Agency did not provide reasonable services to his father. He also contended the juvenile court lacked authority to order continued services beyond the 18-month review date absent special circumstances not present here. The Court of Appeal concluded there was substantial evidence to support the juvenile court's finding that reasonable services were not provided or offered to the parent, that the juvenile court was authorized to extend reunification services up to the 24-month review date if the court determined reasonable services were not provided or offered to the parent, and the juvenile court was not required to consider the need for a continuance under section 352 when extending services. View "In re M.F." on Justia Law