McIntyre's Civil AlertTM

Sep 26, 2016

California cases: 9-12-16 to 9-23-16


California Supreme Court

Real Property (CEQA)

Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens v. San Mateo Community College District (2016) _ Cal.4th _ , 2016 WL 4978435: The California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision affirming the trial court’s decision granting a writ petition ordering respondent to refrain from taking further action adversely affecting the physical environment at a building complex pending respondent’s full compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). When an agency proposes changes to a previously approved project, CEQA does not authorize courts to invalidate an agency’s action based solely on their own abstract evaluation of whether the agency’s proposal is a new project rather than a modified version of an old one. Under the statutory scheme, the agency’s environmental review obligations depend on the effect of the proposed changes on the decisionmaking process rather than on any abstract characterization of the project as “new” or “old.” An agency that proposes project changes must determine whether the previous environmental document retains any relevance in light of the proposed changes and, if so, whether major revisions to the previous environmental document are required due to the involvement of new, previously unstudied significant environmental impacts. These are determinations for the agency to make in the first instance, subject to judicial review for substantial evidence. (September 19, 2016.)

California Courts of Appeal

Appeal

People ex rel. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Dahan (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4917188: The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by judgment-debtor defendants challenging the trial court’s post-judgment order allocating the judgment amount between qui tam plaintiffs and the State of California. Judgment-debtor defendants in qui tam insurance fraud actions are not aggrieved by such allocation orders under Insurance Code section 1871.7(g)(2)(A), and therefore lack standing to appeal. (C.A. 2nd, September 15, 2016.)

Attorney Fees (CCP section 1021.5)

City of San Diego v. San Diegans for Open Government (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 5231822: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order granting a motion for attorney fees by respondent after it and another party were successful in defeating a validation action filed by petitioner. Respondent was a suspended corporation when it filed its answer to the validation action. In an issue of first impression, the Court of Appeal ruled that, under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, no attorney fees can be awarded when a suspended corporation files an answer in a validation action and both the corporation and its attorney knew it was suspended and not revived before the expiration of the deadline to appear in the action. (C.A. 4th, September 22, 2016.)

Civil Procedure (170.6 Challenges, Costs, Summary Judgment)

Citizens for Ceres v. City of Ceres (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4733253: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of a writ petition by petitioners challenging the approval by respondent of the development of a shopping center anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter under the California Environmental Quality Act, but reversed the trial court’s order granting a motion to tax respondent’s costs of $48,889.71 for preparing the administrative record. Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court erred in applying the ruling in Hayward Area Planning Assn. v. City of Hayward (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 176 to bar a real party in interest from recovering the cost of preparing the administrative record when the lead agency prepared the record and was reimbursed by the real party in interest. (C.A. 5th, September 12, 2016.)

City of San Diego v. San Diegans for Open Government (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 5231822: See summary above under Attorney Fees.

Dang v. Maruichi American Corporation (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4547865: See summary below under Employment.

Esparza v. Kaweah Delta District Hosp. (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 5121829: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend in a medical malpractice case against a district hospital on the basis that the trial court could not determine whether plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims were viable, time-barred, or whether plaintiff had timely presented a proper claim to defendant to comply with the requirements of the Government Claims Act. The Court of Appeal ruled that, by checking the boxes to item 9.a of the Judicial Council Form for pleading a personal injury cause of action plaintiff had alleged she was required to comply with a claims statute and had complied with applicable claims statutes. (C.A. 5th, September 21, 2016.)

Mills v. AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah Insurance Exchange (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 5092708: See summary below under Insurance.

Rothstein v. Superior Court (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4939297: The Court of Appeal granted a writ petition ordering the trial court to modify its order transferring an entire case (both the original family law case and a later filed civil action that was deemed to be a related case) to a new judge following a challenge under Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6. The Court of Appeal held that a section 170.6 challenge, filed in a case that is related to (but not consolidated with) an earlier-filed case in which the assigned judge has resolved a disputed factual issue relating to the merits, requires transfer of only the later-filed case to another judge. (C.A. 2nd, September 16, 2016.)

Corporations

City of San Diego v. San Diegans for Open Government (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 5231822: See summary above under Attorney Fees.

Employment

Dang v. Maruichi American Corporation (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4547865: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment to defendant, in an action alleging wrongful termination in violation of public policy, on the basis that the court lacked jurisdiction because plaintiff’s claim was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA, 29 U.S.C. section 151 et seq.) under San Diego Unions v. Garmon (1959) 359 U.S. 236. Because plaintiff was a supervisor and supervisors are not covered under the NLRA, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision because the evidence presented on the motion for summary judgment provided no basis to conclude that the termination of plaintiff infringed upon the rights of defendant’s nonsupervisory employees who were protected by the NLRA. (C.A. 2nd, filed September 1, 2016, published September 22, 2016.)

Perez v. U-Haul Co. of California (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4938809: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order denying a motion to compel individual arbitrations to determine whether plaintiffs qualified as aggrieved employees and had standing, and staying other portions of the claims until after the arbitrations, in a representative action under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) (Labor Code sections 2698 et seq.) alleging wage and hour violations by defendant. The trial court properly ruled that California law prohibits an employer from compelling an employee to split the litigation of a PAGA claim between multiple forums. (C.A. 2nd, September 16, 2016.)

Government

T-Mobile v. City and County of San Francisco (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4917173: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment, following a bench trial, finding that an ordinance and regulations, approved by defendants, requiring all persons to obtain a site-specific permit before constructing, installing, or maintaining telecommunications equipment, violated section 6409 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (47 U.S.C. section 1455); that those portions of the ordinance conditioning issuance of a permit on economic or technological necessity were preempted by Public Utilities Code section 7901, but the ordinance’s aesthetics-based compatibility standards were not preempted by sections 7901 or 7901.1. (C.A. 1st, September 15, 2015.)

Insurance

Mills v. AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah Insurance Exchange (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 5092708: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant insurance company. The action was brought by policyholder plaintiffs whose auto policy had been cancelled and a passenger who was seriously injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist. The trial court properly granted the motion for summary judgment because the insurance policy had been cancelled before the accident. (C.A. 3rd, September 20, 2016.)

People ex rel. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Dahan (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4917188: See summary above under Appeal.

Labor

Dang v. Maruichi American Corporation (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4547865: See summary above under employment.

Real Property

616 Croft Ave., LLC v. City of West Hollywood (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 5335511: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order denying a writ petition seeking to compel respondent to return $580,976.15 in permit fees. The largest fee, the “in lieu” fee, had nearly doubled from 2005 when the project was first approved to 2011 when the fees were paid by petitioner. The Court of Appeal concluded that the in lieu fee was reasonable, and petitioner had the burden of showing the fee was unreasonable. (C.A. 2nd, September 23, 2016.)

Citizens for Ceres v. City of Ceres (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4733253: See summary above under Civil Procedure.

Mendez v. Rancho Valencia Resort Partners (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4490836: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment for defendant, following a bench trial, in an action for private nuisance regarding noise from outdoor events at defendant’s resort. The Court of Appeal concluded that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate any reversible error in the trial court’s decision. (C.A. 4th, filed August 26, 2016, published September 13, 2016.)

San Francisco Apartment Association v. City and County of San Francisco (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4990057: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting a writ petition finding that a local ordinance, San Francisco Planning Code article 3, section 317(e)(4) impermissibly penalized property owners for exercising their rights under the Ellis Act of 1985 (Government Code section 7060 et seq.) and was therefore facially void on preemption grounds. (C.A. 1st, September 19, 2016.)

Torts

Esparza v. Kaweah Delta District Hosp. (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 5121829: see summary above under Civil Procedure.

Jorge v. Culinary Institute of America (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4938798: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order denying a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict after a jury returned a verdict for $885,083 finding that defendant was vicariously liable for an accident caused by its employee chef who was driving home from work. The employee chef settled with plaintiff shortly before the verdict.  The Court of Appeal concluded there was no substantial evidence that the employee was acting within the scope of his employment, and the trial court erred in denying the motion. (C.A. 1st, September 16, 2016.)

Regalado v. Callaghan (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 4938222: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment, following a jury trial, awarding plaintiff (an injured employee of a pool company hired by defendant) $3 million against defendant in an action alleging negligence and premises liability. Defendant, an experienced contractor, acted as the owner-builder in the construction of his dream home. At trial, plaintiff argued defendant was liable because defendant retained control over the project by submitting plans, pulling permits, and calling for inspections, furnished a vault and propane line, asked a pool company to put pool equipment in the vault, and did not get separate permits for the vault and propane line while representing to the pool company that he did so. The Court of Appeal rejected all of defendant’s arguments on appeal. (C.A. 4th, September 22, 2016.)