Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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Farid Hedayatzadeh (Hedayatzadeh) appealed following the trial court's summary judgment in favor of the City of Del Mar (the City) in his lawsuit arising out of the death of his 19-year-old son, who was struck by a train on an oceanfront bluff in Del Mar on property owned by North County Transit District (NCTD). Specifically, Hedayatzadeh argued the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on his single cause of action alleging a dangerous condition of public property based primarily on the City's failure to erect any barriers to prevent pedestrians from accessing NCTD's train tracks. On the night at issue, Javad Hedayatzadeh and his friends walked around the guardrail at the end of 13th Street, down an unimproved dirt embankment, and crossed the train tracks. The group then walked northbound on the west side of the tracks to a spot where they sat and smoked marijuana. They knew they were trespassing on NCTD property. At various points along the railroad right-of-way, NCTD has installed signs stating "No Trespassing," "Danger" and "Railroad Property." Javad noticed a freight train coming from the south and told his friends that he was going to use his phone to take a video "selfie" of himself next to the train. As Javad was near the train tracks taking the selfie, he was struck by the train and killed. After filing an unsuccessful claim under the Government Claims Act, Javad's father, Hedayatzadeh, filed this lawsuit against the City, NCTD, and BNSF Railway Company, which allegedly operated the freight train. The Court of Appeal concluded that, as a matter of law, the City's property at the end of 13th Street did not constitute a dangerous condition of public property even though the City did not take action to prevent pedestrians from accessing the train tracks on NCTD's adjacent right-of-way by walking around the guardrail at the end of the street. View "Hedayatzadeh v. City of Del Mar" on Justia Law

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The City of Huntington Beach filed a petition for writ of mandamus and a complaint for declaratory relief to “invalidate the unconstitutional mandates of the [CVA] that impermissibly strip the City’s constitutionally protected Charter authority with respect to local ‘municipal affairs.’” Each cause of action alleged the CVA unconstitutionally violated the City’s authority to conduct municipal affairs guaranteed under article XI, section 5 of the California Constitution by mandating how the City operates its police force. The City also prayed for a declaration that the CVA is unconstitutional and preempted by article XI, section 5 of the California Constitution. The trial court granted the City’s petition for writ of mandamus and a peremptory writ of mandate was issued ordering the Attorney General to refrain from enforcing Government Code section 7284.6 against the City. In a statement of decision, the court found: (1) the “constitution, regulation and government” of a police force was a “quintessential municipal affair under [Section] 5(a)”; (2) the “constitution, regulation and government” of a police force was “a municipal prerogative” protected by Section 5(b); and (3) “there was no ‘statewide concern’ justifying the state[’]s regulation of a Charter City’s police force.” The issue before the Court of Appeal was whether charter cities were exempt from compliance with Government Code section 7284.6 on the ground it infringed the authority of charter cities under article XI, section 5(b) of the California Constitution to create, regulate, and govern city police forces. The Court held section 7284.6 was constitutional as applied to charter cities because it addressed matters of statewide concern - including public safety and health, effective policing, and protection of constitutional rights - was reasonably related to resolution of those statewide concerns, and was narrowly tailored to avoid unnecessary interference in local government. Because the trial court concluded otherwise, and granted a petition for writ of mandamus brought by the City, the Court of Appeal reversed with directions to deny the writ petition and enter judgment in favor of the Attorney General. View "City of Huntington Beach v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for defendant, a managed care health plan that provides health coverage to low-income individuals under Medi-Cal. The court held that the legislative history of Welfare and Institutions Code section 14105.28, along with the statement of legislative intent within the statute itself, indicate that the Legislature intended the APR-DRG (All Patient Refined Diagnosis Related Group) rates to apply to out-of-network inpatient poststabilization services under Medi-Cal. Consistent with the legislature's intent, the court interpreted the phrase "managed care inpatient days" to refer to services provided pursuant to a managed care contract, that is, in-network services. View "Dignity Health v. Local Initiative Health Care Authority of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

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O.C., a 14-year-old refugee from Guatemala, asked the superior court to make the required Special immigrant juvenile findings, a necessary first step under the federal immigration law that allowed abandoned, unaccompanied minors living in the United States to apply for status as permanent legal residents (SIJ findings). A mandatory Judicial Council form was created for this purpose. Items 4(b), 5, and 6 on the form required the superior court to detail its findings, citing California law. The Court of Appeal determined the superior court failed to cite California statutory or case law in items 4(b) and 6, and did not check the box in item 5 to indicate O.C. could not reunify with her mother, who was deceased. Treating O.C.'s appeal as a petition for a writ of mandate, the Court of Appeal granted the petition and ordered the probate court to vacate its SIJ findings and issue new findings for items 4(b) and 6 of the mandatory Judicial Council form baed on state law, as proposed by O.C. and in compliance with federal rules and regulations. View "O.C. v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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The People charged petitioners, social workers with the DCFS, with felony child abuse and falsifying public records after petitioners provided emergency and family maintenance services to a child who ended up dying six weeks after the case was closed as a result of child neglect and severe head trauma inflicted by his mother and her boyfriend. The Court of Appeal explained that, because the allegations against petitioners under Penal Code section 273a, subdivision (a) are based on their alleged nonfeasance, the People would be required to prove that the petitioners either had the duty and ability to control the child's abusers or had custody or control of the child. The court held that petitioners never had the requisite duty to control the abusers and did not have care or custody of the child for purposes of Penal Code section 273a, subdivision (a). The court also held that petitioners were not officers within the meaning of Government Code section 6200 and thus there was no probable cause to hold them on charges of violating those laws. Therefore, the trial court should have granted the motions to dismiss and the court granted the petitions for review. View "Bom v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Mohammed Noori sued his former employer, Countrywide Payroll & HR Solutions, Inc., for violations of California law relating to mandated information on employee itemized wage statements. Plaintiff alleged, amongst other things, that Countrywide violated Labor Code Section 226(a) by: (1) providing wage statements bearing an acronym instead of the full legal name of the employer; and (2) failing to maintain copies of accurate itemized wage statements. The trial court granted Countrywide’s demurrer. THe Court of Appeal determined plaintiff’s complaint indeed stated a claim under the Labor Code for failure to provide the employer’s name: the wage statements listed “CSSG,” the abbreviation of a fictitious business name. Furthermore, the Court concluded plaintiff satisfied the notice requirement for bringing his action under the Private Attorneys General Act. View "Noori v. Countrywide Payroll & HR Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to accurately estimate the amount of Reactive Organic Gas (ROG) emissions and to adopt all feasible mitigation measures. The challenge arises from the approval of a geothermal plant to be located on fedeal land in Mono County, California. Petitioners also claimed the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (District) was not the proper lead agency to undertake preparation of the EIR. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded the District was the proper lead agency, and that the permit limiting the daily ROG emissions was sufficient evidence of the amount of the emissions. However, the Court determined the District did not adequately analyze whether the additional mitigation measures proposed by petitioners were feasible to limit ROG emissions. Therefore, the Court reversed the part of the judgment relating to the District’s consideration of the proposed mitigation measures, but affirmed in all other respects. View "Covington v. Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control Dist." on Justia Law

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The 1986 Bay Area County Traffic and Transportation Funding Act (Pub. Util. Code 131000) established a framework for counties and cities within the nine-county San Francisco Bay area to collectively develop and implement traffic and transportation projects and authorized the voters in those counties to create a county transportation authority to implement a retail transactions and use tax for funding a local transportation plan. San Francisco voters approved the creation of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA). Urban submitted public records requests to the SFCTA under the California Public Records Act (Gov. Code 6250) and the Sunshine Ordinance. SFCTA claimed it was not subject to the Sunshine Ordinance. Urban filed suit. After the parties resolved the outstanding records request issue, the trial court concluded the request for declaratory relief was not moot “due to the SFCTA’s position that it is not subject to the Sunshine Ordinance, which is sufficient to establish an actual controversy” then concluded the SFCTA is a state agency, exempt from the Ordinance. The court of appeal affirmed. Local public agencies are distinct from the cities and counties they serve. While the SFCTA may be classified as a local agency based on the scope of its functions, it remains an agency of the state. The Sunshine Ordinance indicates that it is limited to city agencies. View "SF Urban Forest Coalition v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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The City of Desert Hot Springs (the City) tried to abate a public nuisance by serving the owner of a dilapidated hotel/motel with notice that it was required to correct numerous building and safety violations. When the owner failed to timely correct the violations or apply for a permit to raze the building, the City sought a declaration that the building constituted a nuisance and, pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 17980.7(c), requested the appointment of a receiver to oversee the building’s rehabilitation. Instead of addressing the notice and opportunity given to the owner of the hotel/motel and the proposed receiver’s qualifications, the trial court here questioned the viability of the proposed receiver’s financial and construction plan. And, having concluded the plan made no economic sense because the value of the property after its rehabilitation would not exceed the costs of rehabilitation plus the additional costs associated with appointment of a receiver, the court denied the City’s request and subsequently dismissed the action. The Court of Appeal concurred with the City which argued the court exceeded its authority under section 17980.7(c). Therefore, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for the trial court to reconsider the City’s request for appointment of a receiver. View "City of Desert Hot Springs v. Valenti" on Justia Law

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Former psychologist at Ironwood State Prison (Ironwood), John Doe, sued his former employer, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) alleging discrimination, retaliation, and harassment based on disability. Doe also alleged CDCR violated FEHA by failing to accommodate his two disabilities, asthma and dyslexia, by relocating him to a cleaner and quieter office and providing him with requested computer equipment. Finding no triable issues of material fact, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of CDCR. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Doe v. Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation" on Justia Law