Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in California Supreme Court
El-Attar v. Hollywood Presbyterian Med. Ctr.
Doctor applied for reappointment to Hospital's medical staff. Hospital denied the application. Doctor requested a review hearing to challenge the decision. Under Hospital's bylaws, Hospital's Medical Executive Committee (MEC) was responsible for selecting the hearing officer and panel members that would hear Doctor's claim. However, the MEC declined to exercise its authority, leaving the responsibility to Hospital's Governing Board. After a hearing, the Judicial Review Committee (JRC) concluded that the Governing Board's decision to deny Doctor's application for reappointment was reasonable. The Governing Board subsequently ordered that Doctor be terminated from the medical staff. Doctor filed an administrative mandate petition, asserting, among other claims, that he had been denied a fair proceeding because the Governing Board, rather than the MEC, had chosen the members of the JRC for his judicial review hearing. The court of appeal held that Doctor had been deprived of his right to a fair procedure and was entitled to a new judicial review hearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals incorrectly concluded that the MEC's delegation of the power to select the participants in the JRC was a material violation of Hospital's bylaws. Remanded. View "El-Attar v. Hollywood Presbyterian Med. Ctr." on Justia Law
Pac. Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates, LLC v. City of Los Angeles
This controversy arose after the City of Los Angeles refused to accept Pacific Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates's application to convert its 170-unit mobilehome park from tenant occupancy to resident ownership because Palisades Bowl had failed to include applications for a coastal development permit or for Mello Act approval. Palisades Bowl filed a petition for writ of mandate and a complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief. The trial court granted the relief, commanding the City to evaluate the application for approval without considering whether it complied with either the California Coastal Act or the Mello Act. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the requirements of the Coastal Act and the Mello Act apply to a proposed conversion, within California's coastal zone, of a mobilehome park from tenant occupancy to resident ownership. In so holding, the Court rejected the argument that such a conversion is not a "development" for the purposes of the Coastal Act and that Cal. Gov't Code 66427.5 exempts such conversion from the need to comply with other state laws, or precludes local governmental agencies from exercising state-delegated authority to require compliance with state laws such as the Coastal Act or the Mello Act. View "Pac. Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates, LLC v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law
City of Alhambra v. County of Los Angeles
This case involved a dispute between Los Angeles County (County) and forty-seven cities (Cities) within County regarding how County calculated and imposed property tax administration fees on Cities for their share of County's costs in administering the property tax system. Cities petitioned the trial court for a writ of administrative mandate ordering County and its auditor-controller to reimburse Cities for the amount disputed in fiscal year 2006-2007. Following a trial, the referee ruled that County's method of calculating the disputed fee was consistent with legislative intent and did not violate Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code 97.75. The court of appeal reversed, relying almost exclusively on the plain meaning of section 97.75 to conclude that County's method of calculation was unlawful. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that County's method of calculating property tax administration fees violated the statutory scheme. View "City of Alhambra v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law
In re Cabrera
Prison regulations promulgated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) provide that validation of an inmate as a gang member or associate can result in the inmate's placement in a security housing unit. The current dispute arose when the CDCR validated Petitioner as a gang associate. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, which the superior court denied. The court of appeal granted relief based on a disagreement with the CDCR over the interpretation of the CDCR's regulation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeal failed to accord due deference to the CDCR's interpretation of its own regulations. View "In re Cabrera" on Justia Law
Tomlinson v. Co. of Alameda
This case stemmed from the county's determination that a proposed building project was categorically exempt from compliance with environmental law requirements. At issue was a statutory provision stating that a public agency's approval of a proposed project could be challenged in court only on grounds that were "presented to the public agency orally or in writing by any person during the public comment period...or prior to the close of the public hearing on the project before the issuance of the notice of determination." Pub. Resources Code, 21177, subd.(a). The court held that this exhaustion-of-administrative-remedies provision applied to a public agency's decision that a project was categorically exempt from environmental law requirements. Therefore, the judgment of the Court of Appeal was reversed, and the matter was remanded to that court so it could address petitioners' remaining contentions that, although raised by petitioners, were not resolved by that court because of its conclusion that section 21177's exhaustion-of-administrative remedies requirement was inapplicable.
Dicon Fiberoptics v. Franchise Tax Bd.
The Enterprise Zone Act, Gov. Code, 7070 et seq., was enacted "to stimulate business and industrial growth" in "areas within the state that are economically depressed due to a lack of a private sector." Among the incentives available to businesses that operated within an enterprise zone was a hiring tax credit in the amount of a percentage of the wages paid to a "qualified employee." Rev. & Tax. Code, 23622.7, subd. (a). The Franchise Tax Board conducted an audit and refused to accept some of the certifications that Dicon claimed for a hiring tax credit. The Board found that the documents Dicon produced to establish that workers were "qualified employees" were insufficient and denied the requested tax credit in part. The court reversed the appellate court's holding that a certification issued by a governmental agency for purposes of the hiring tax credit under section 23622.7 constituted "prima facie proof a worker is a 'qualified employee,'" which shifted to the Board the "burden of demonstrating an employee is not a qualified worker for which no voucher should have issued." In all other respects, the Board did not challenge the appellate court's judgment and the judgment was affirmed.
Voices of the Wetlands v. CA State Water Resources Control Bd., et al.
Plaintiff, an environmental organization, filed this administrative mandamus action to challenge the issuance of a federally required permit authorizing the Moss Landing Powerplant (MLPP) to draw cooling water from the adjacent Moss Landing Harbor and Elkhorn Slough. This case presented issues concerning the technological and environmental standards, and the procedures for administrative and judicial review, that apply when a thermal powerplant, while pursuing the issuance or renewal of a cooling water intake permit from a regional board, also sought necessary approval from the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission), of a plan to add additional generating units to the plant, with related modifications to the cooling intake system. The court held that the superior court had jurisdiction to entertain the administrative mandamus petition here under review. The court also held that the trial court erred when it deferred a final judgment, ordered an interlocutory remand to the board for further "comprehensive" examination of that issue, then denied mandamus after determining that the additional evidence and analysis considered by the board on remand supported the board's reaffirmed findings. The court further held that recent Supreme Court authority confirmed that, when applying federal Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1326(b), standards for the issuance of this permit, the Regional Water Board properly utilized cost-benefit analysis. The court declined to address several other issues discussed by the parties. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
Baker v. Workers’ Comp. App. Bd.
In this case, the court construed Labor Code section 4659(c), which provided for the annual indexing of two categories of workers' compensation benefits, total permanent disability and life pension payments, to yearly increases in the state's average weekly wage (SAWW), so that lifetime disability payments made to the most seriously injured workers would keep pace with inflation. The indexing procedure was sometimes referred to as an "escalator," or one providing for "cost of living adjustments" (COLA's). At issue was whether the operative language of section 4659(c) required the annual COLA's for total permanent disability and life pension payments to be calculated (1) prospectively from the January 1 following the year in which the worker became "entitled to receive a life pension or total disability indemnity," (when the payments actually commenced); (2) retroactively to January 1 following the year in which the worker sustained the industrial injury; or (3) retroactively to January 2004, in every case involving a qualifying industrial injury, regardless of the date of injury or the date the first benefit payment became due. Applying fundamental rules of statutory construction, the court held that the Legislature intended that COLA's be calculated and applied prospectively commencing on the January 1 following the date on which the injured worker first became entitled to receive, and actually began receiving, such benefits payments, i.e., the permanent and stationary date in the case of total permanent disability benefits, and the date on which partial permanent disability benefits became exhausted in the case of life pension payments.
Stark v. Superior Court of Sutter County
This case involved serious allegations against Robert E. Stark, the auditor-controller of Sutter County where the Sutter County District Attorney's Office claimed that Stark violated statutes, county rules, and Sutter County Board of Supervisors (Board) resolutions detailing the requirements of his office. At issue were four provisions of Penal Code section 424, all of which proscribe general intent offenses. Three of those provisions criminalize acting without authority or failing to act as required by law or legal duty. The court held that those offenses additionally required that defendant knew, or was criminally negligent in failing to know, the legal requirements that governed the act or omission. The court also held that a claim of misinstruction on the mens rea of a crime could be challenged under Penal Code section 995, subdivision (a)(1)(B) where it raised the possibility that, as instructed, the grand jury could have indicted on less than reasonable or probable cause. The court further held that based on the record, the court need not decide the question of whether willful misconduct under Government Code section 3060 required a knowing and purposeful refusal to follow the law. Stark did not disagree with the instruction on mental state given by the district attorney and accompanying PowerPoint slides invalidated the instruction on mental state, requiring that the accusation be set aside. The court addressed these claims as to the district attorney's argument and PowerPoint slides and concluded that it was without merit. The court finally held that, in a motion to set aside an indictment or accusation, a defendant claiming that the district attorney suffered from a conflict of interest during the grand jury proceeding must establish that his right to due process was violated. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court was affirmed.
Ardon v. City of Los Angeles
Plaintiff, a resident of Los Angeles, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and similarly situated individuals challenging the city's telephone users tax (TUT) and seeking refund of funds collected under the TUT over the previous two years. At issue was whether the Government Code section 910 allowed taxpayers to file a class action claim against a municipal government entity for the refund of local taxes. The court held that neither Woosley v. State of California, which concerned the interpretation of statutes other than section 910, nor article XIII, section 32 of the California Constitution, applied to the court's determination of whether section 910 permitted class claims that sought the refund of local taxes. Therefore, the court held that the reasoning in City of San Jose v. Superior Court, which permitted a class claim against a municipal government in the context of an action for nuisance under section 910, also permitted taxpayers to file a class claim seeking the refund of local taxes under the same statute. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded the judgment of the Court of Appeals.