Articles Posted in California Supreme Court

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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. sought to expand its store in the City of Sonora. The City Council postponed its vote on the project while a voter-sponsored initiative was circulated, which proposed to adopt a plan for the contemplated expansion. The Council subsequently adopted the ordinance. The Tuoloumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance sought a writ of mandate based on four causes of action, the first of which asserted that the Council violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by adopting the ordinance without first conducting a complete environmental review. The Court of Appeals granted the writ as to the first cause of action, concluding that when a land use ordinance is proposed in a voter initiative petition, full CEQA review is required if the city adopts the ordinance rather than submitting it to an election. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that CEQA review is not required before direct adoption of an initiative, just as it is not required before voters adopt an initiative at an election. View "Tuolumne Jobs & Small Bus. Alliance v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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An employee (Claimant) was asked by his employer to sign a written disciplinary notice regarding Claimant’s alleged misconduct. Claimant refused to sign the notice, claiming that he wished to consult with his union first and that he believed that signing would constitute an admission of guilt. Based on this incident, the employer terminated Claimant for insubordination. The Employment Development Department denied Claimant’s application for unemployment benefits, determining that Claimant’s refusal to sign the disciplinary notice constituted misconduct. The Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board reversed, finding that Claimant’s failure to sign the notice was “an instance of poor judgment” that did not disqualify Claimant from receiving benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, even if Claimant’s refusal to sign the disciplinary notice justified his termination, Claimant did not commit misconduct within the meaning of California’s Unemployment Insurance Code. View "Paratransit, Inc. v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd." on Justia Law

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The Los Angeles Times asked the City of Long Beach to release the names of the police officers involved in certain shootings. The Long Beach Police Officers Association (“Union”) sought injunctive relief against the City, attempting to prevent release of the names to the Times. The Times subsequently intervened, seeking disclosure of the names. The City supported the Union’s request for injunctive relief and opposed disclosure. The trial court denied the Union’s request for a preliminary or permanent injunction. The court of appeal upheld the denial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the particularized showing necessary to outweigh the public’s interest in the disclosure of the names of peace officers involved in the on-duty shootings was not made in this case. View "Long Beach Police Officers Ass'n. v. City of Long Beach" on Justia Law

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The County Assessor reassessed two mobile home parks owned by resident-controlled nonprofit corporations after some residents sold both their mobile homes and their interests in the corporation. The mobile homes, classified as personal property, were assessed separately. The Assessor appraised the real property interest subject to reassessment by the extraction method of appraisal. The Appeal Board rejected the appraisals submitted by the Assessor and instead used those submitted by the corporations to calculate the value of the interests subject to reassessment. The Assessor filed a petition for writ of administrative mandate. The trial court denied the petition, and the court of appeal affirmed, concluding that the Assessor’s method for the taxation of changes in the mobile home ownership was not the method set out in Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code 62.1(b). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 62.1(b) simply describes a unit of real property that is subject to reassessment and does not mandate any particular formula for appraising this unit; and (2) because the Appeal Board’s decisions were premised on an erroneously interpretation of section 62.1(b), the Appeal Board abused its discretion, and the Assessor’s petition for a writ of mandate should have been granted. View "Holland v. Assessment Appeals Bd." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the section of the Labor Code (article 2.3) that establishes a process for employees who dispute the diagnosis or treatment provided by a medical provider network (MPN). Petitioner was injured when she fell at work. Petitioner began treatment with a physician in Employer's MPN, but later undertook treatment with a doctor outside the network, Dr. Nario. Thereafter, Petitioner applied for temporary disability benefits, relying on reports by Dr. Nario. Employer argued that reports from non-MPN doctors were inadmissible under Cal. Labor Code 4616.6, an article 2.3 provision, for purposes of the disability hearing. The workers' compensation judge (WCJ) overruled the objection, concluding that reports from all treating doctors were admissible. The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (Board) rescinded the WCJ's decision, holding that section 4616.6 precluded the admission of reports from any doctor outside the MPN. The court of appeal annulled the Board's decisions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 4616.6 restricts the admission of medical reports only in proceedings under article 2.3 to resolve disputes over diagnosis and treatment within an MPN. View "Valdez v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd." on Justia Law

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Developer sought to build ninety-six condominiums, but as a condition of obtaining a permit to do so, City required Developer to set aside ten condominium units as below market rate housing and make a substantial payment to a city fund. Developer challenged these requirements but did so while proceeding with construction. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether Cal. Gov't Code 66020, which permits a developer to proceed with a project while also protesting the imposition of "fees, dedications, reservations, or other exactions," applied in this case. The lower courts held that section 66020 did not apply, and thus, the action was untimely. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that even if the requirements at issue in this case were not "fees" under section 66020, they were "other exactions," and accordingly, Developer was permitted to challenge the requirements while the project proceeded. View "Sterling Park, LP v. City of Palo Alto" on Justia Law

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In assessing the value of electric power plants for purposes of property taxation, assessors may not include the value of intangible assets and rights in the value of taxable property. An electric company purchased "emission reduction credits" (ERCs), which the company had to purchase to obtain authorization to construct an electric power plant and to operate it at certain air-pollutant emission levels. These ERCs constituted intangible rights for property taxation purposes. In assessing the value of the power plant using the replacement cost method, the State Board of Equalization (Board) estimated the cost of replacing the ERCs. In also using an income approach in assessing the plant, the Board failed to attribute a portion or the plant's income stream to the ERCs and to deduct that value from the plant's projected income stream prior to taxation. In analyzing the Board's valuation of the power plant, the Supreme Court held (1) the Board improperly taxed the power company's ERCs when it added their replacement cost to the power plant's taxable value; and (2) the Board was not required to deduct a value attributable to the ERCs under an income approach. Remanded. View "Elk Hills Power, LLC v. Bd. of Equalization" on Justia Law

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Public school students with diabetes who cannot self-administer insulin are entitled under federal law to have it administered to them during the school day at no cost. In 2007, the State Department of Education (Department) issued a legal advisory authorizing unlicensed school personnel to administer insulin. The American Nurses Association and other trade organizations representing registered and school nurses (collectively, Nurses) challenged the document by filing this action seeking declaratory relief and a writ of mandate, asserting that the Department's advice condoned the unauthorized practice of nursing. The superior court declared the advisory invalid to the extent it authorized unlicensed school personnel to administer insulin. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that California law expressly permits trained, unlicensed school personnel to administer prescription medications such as insulin in accordance with the written statements of a student's treating physician and parents and expressly exempts persons who thus carry out physicians' medical orders from laws prohibiting the unauthorized practice of nursing. View "Am. Nurses Ass'n v. Torlakson" on Justia Law

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Until 2007, petroleum refinery property was assessed by separately assessing the value of land and improvements separately from the value of fixtures, including machinery and equipment. In light of evidence that petroleum refinery property, including land, improvements, and fixtures, was generally sold as a unit, the Board of Equalization enacted Cal. Code Regs. tit. 18, 474 (Rule 474), which provides that, for purposes of determining Proposition 8 declines in the value of petroleum refinery property, petroleum refinery property is rebuttably presumed to constitute a single appraisal unit - unlike most industrial property. The Western States Petroleum Association sought to invalidate the regulation. The trial court and court of appeal held that Rule 474 was both substantively and procedurally invalid. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeal erred in finding that Rule 474 was substantively invalid, as the board was not statutorily or constitutionally prohibited from appraising refinery land and fixtures as a single unit; but (2) because the Board failed to provide an adequate assessment of the rule's economic impact, the rule was procedurally deficient under the Administrative Procedures Act. View "W. States Petroleum Ass'n v. Bd. of Equalization" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (Expo Authority) approved a project to construct a light-rail line from Culver City to Santa Monica. Plaintiffs, Neighbors for Smart Rail, petitioned for a writ of mandate, alleging that Expo Authority's approval of the project violated CEQA in several respects. The superior court denied the petition, and the court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Expo Authority abused its discretion by examining certain environmental impacts only on projected future conditions, and not on existing environmental conditions, but the abuse of discretion was non prejudicial; and (2) the Expo Authority's mitigation measure adopted for possible impacts on street parking near planned transit stations satisfied CEQA's requirements. View "Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Constr. Auth. " on Justia Law