Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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After years of investigation, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board), issued a cleanup and abatement order (CAO) to San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) and several other entities, in connection with a power plant’s operations that discharged waste into the San Diego Bay. The Regional Board found that SDG&E caused or permitted waste to be discharged into the Bay and thereby created, or threatened to create, pollution and nuisance conditions. SDG&E contested its designation as a responsible "person" under Water Code section 13304 (a), and petitioned for a writ of mandate to have the CAO vacated. The superior court denied the writ. SDG&E argued then, as it did before the Court of Appeal, that shipyard companies comparatively discharged greater amounts of pollutants into the Bay and that two appellate opinions required application of the "substantial factor" causation test to determine whether SDG&E created or threatened to create a condition of pollution or nuisance. The Court of Appeal found it was undisputed that SDG&E directly discharged and thus "caused or permitted" waste to enter the Bay, distinguishing the aforementioned appellate cases. Further, the Regional Board adequately demonstrated that the waste discharged by SDG&E created, or threatened to create, a condition of pollution or nuisance. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "San Diego Gas & Electric Co. v. San Diego Regional Water etc." on Justia Law

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Hoag, a Newport Beach acute care hospital whose patients include beneficiaries of California’s Medi-Cal program, was audited by the California Department of Health Care Services. Hoag’s cost report for fiscal year 2009 included $2,413,623 in audit reimbursement reductions mandated by Assembly Bill (AB) 5 and AB 1183. Hoag filed an administrative appeal that was a blanket challenge to the legality of those assembly bills and the legality of the reimbursement reductions based upon them. Over 18 months later, Hoag submitted a second administrative appeal regarding an alleged $620,903 calculation error that it requested be “incorporated” into the open administrative appeal. Hoag alleged that if its global challenge failed, the $2,413,623 reduction should not include $620,903 stemming from an erroneous calculation of Medi-Cal days subject to the reductions required by the assembly bills. The Department’s Office of Administrative Hearings and Appeals dismissed the administrative appeal of the alleged calculation error as untimely. The court of appeal affirmed. Hoag’s legal challenge to the Medi-Cal audit reduction is a separate issue from its challenge to the alleged calculation error and was, therefore, untimely. View "Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian v. Kent" on Justia Law

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Brandon M. was taken to Riverside County Medical Center by the Corona Police Department for an involuntary hold, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150. He was released before 72 hours had elapsed, and he returned home, where he bludgeoned three people to death with a baseball bat. Surviving family members, who were successors in interest or heirs, (collectively Respondents) filed lawsuits against the County of Riverside (County) for his release, alleging negligence. The County filed a special motion to dismiss under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, the anti-SLAPP statute. The County contended the complaints should have been struck because they alleged harm arising from protected activity and because Respondents could not show a reasonable probability their suit would be successful on the merits. Respondents countered that the County's actions did not arise from any petition or speech-related activity and so were not subject to the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court denied the County's motion, and the County appealed. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's ruling that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply in this instance. View "Swanson v. County of Riverside" on Justia Law

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The Medical Board of California sought the medical records of three minors for whom Dr. Kennedy provided vaccination exemptions. After Kennedy refused to produce the records, the Director superior court granted a petition under Government Code section 11187 and ordered Kennedy to produce the records. The court denied Kennedy’s request to stay the order while he pursued appellate review. The court of appeal denied Kennedy’s petition for a writ of supersedeas, rejecting Kennedy’s argument under Code of Civil Procedure section 917.2, which operates automatically to stay an order directing “the assignment or delivery of personal property, including documents,” if the appellant posts an undertaking. The automatic stay provisions apply to civil actions but do not ordinarily apply to a special proceeding. The underlying petition to enforce an administrative subpoena is a special proceeding because it is “established by statute” and commenced independently of a pending action by petition. The court noted that its interpretation is consistent with federal law. An automatic stay would impede the Board’s discharge of its duty to “protect the public against incompetent, impaired, or negligent physicians.” Kennedy has not shown a discretionary stay is warranted; it is likely that the court acted within its discretion in finding the Board’s interest in obtaining records of vaccination exemptions outweighed the patients’ privacy rights, given that the Board must keep the records confidential during its investigation. View "Kennedy v. Super. Court" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a civil action brought by United Grand to recover overdue rent from Malibu Hillbillies and its guarantor. After a default judgment, United Grand sought almost $2 million in attorney fees for its efforts to enforce the judgment against the guarantor. The trial court subsequently found that United Grand had engaged in extensive misconduct throughout the duration of the action and imposed a terminating sanction striking from the complaint United Grand's prayer for attorney fees. However, the trial court also entered judgment in favor of United Grand and against the guarantor in the amount of the unpaid rent and accrued interest she had already paid. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of dismissal, the order dissolving the injunction and the order denying attorney fees on appeal. The court held that many of United Grand's claims were forfeited and the few cognizable claims of error were meritless. Finally, the court dismissed the appeal from the sanctions orders. View "United Grand Corp. v. Malibu Hillbillies, LLC" on Justia Law

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From 2011 to 2015, Appellant Attorney Joanna Vogel represented plaintiff-respondent Angele Lasalle in the dissolution of a registered domestic partnership with Minh Tho Si Luu. Lasalle repeatedly failed to provide discovery in that case, and the court defaulted her as a terminating sanction. She said her failure to provide discovery was caused by Vogel not keeping her informed of discovery orders, so she sued Vogel for legal malpractice. A default judgment was entered against Vogel. Vogel successfully moved to set aside the default judgment pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b). In response, LaSalle’s new lawyer asked the trial court to take judicial notice of state bar disciplinary proceedings against Vogel which stayed her ability to practice law. The set aside motion was then denied, and a year later, a default judgment was entered against Vogel for $1 million. She appealed the default and denial of her motion to set aside the default. The Court of Appeal reversed: “[w]e sympathize with the court below and opposing counsel. We have all encountered dilatory tactics and know how frustrating they can be. But we cannot see this as such a situation, and cannot countenance the way this default was taken, so we reverse the judgment.” View "Lasalle v. Vogel" on Justia Law

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Edith Rogers appealed her removal as administrator of the estate of her grandfather Roscoe Sapp, Sr. (decedent), who died in 1994. Armuress Sapp and Brian Lincoln, two of decedent’s grandsons, separately petitioned to remove Rogers as administrator. The probate court found Rogers: (1) had failed to comply with the court’s 2001 instructions that she and her coadministrator (who died in 2003) sell the estate’s remaining real estate holdings and distribute the net proceeds to the beneficiaries of the decedent’s will; and (2) acted in bad faith toward the beneficiaries by trying to buy them out for much less than they would have received if she had timely sold the properties. The court therefore concluded Rogers had to be removed because she “mismanaged” the estate and was “incapable of properly executing the duties of the office” of administrator. The probate court withdrew letters of administration issued to Rogers and appointed Armuress as special administrator. In her briefs, Rogers challenged: (1) the 2001 order instructing the coadministrators to sell the estate’s real property; (2) the probate court’s 2016 denial of her petition for additional instructions; and (3) the 2017 judgment removing her as personal representative. The Court of Appeal determined the 2017 judgment was properly before it. Although the Court concluded the evidence did not support a finding that Rogers was incapable of executing the duties of administrator, the evidence supported her removal because she was not otherwise qualified to act as administrator, and she mismanaged the estate. Because the Court concluded Rogers did not demonstrate the probate court abused its discretion when it removed her, judgment was affirmed View "Estate of Sapp" on Justia Law

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Christopher Ross appeals from a summary judgment granted in favor of the County of Riverside on Ross's claims for violation of Labor Code section 1102.5 and for violation of the provisions in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.; FEHA) prohibiting disability discrimination, failure to reasonably accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, and failure to prevent disability discrimination. Ross worked for the County as a deputy district attorney. He sought an accommodation with his work schedule based on a concussion syndrome he was experiencing from previous work in the Military. Supervisors there did not oblige, and Ross sued for violations of the Labor Code section 1102.5, but it was determined he could not establish his claim for disability discrimination because he could not prove he could perform the essential functions of his job. He could not establish his claim for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for the same reasons as well as because he could not prove he had any functional limitations requiring accommodation and his requested accommodation was not reasonable. He could not establish his claim for failure to engage in the interactive process because he did not interact in good faith. And, he could not establish his claim for failure to prevent disability discrimination because he could establish his claims for disability discrimination. Because the Court of Appeal concluded there were triable issues of material fact of the questions of whether Ross engaged in protected activity under Labor Code section 1102.5 and whether Ross had a physical disability under the FEHA, it reversed the judgment as to these claims and remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "Ross v. County of Riverside" on Justia Law

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After Wertheim LLC obtained a money judgment against Currency Corporation, Wertheim sought to satisfy the judgment from the appeal bond but Currency blocked disbursement. Wertheim and Currency later litigated their respective entitlement to the funds and, in 2016, Wertheim moved for postjudgment enforcement costs pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 685.080. The trial court reversed the motion as untimely. The Court of Appeal held that disputed funds on deposit with the superior court do not satisfy a judgment for purposes of a postjudgment motion for costs. The court reversed and remanded the trial court's judgment, holding that Wertheim's motion was timely. The court also denied Currency's motion for monetary sanctions. View "Wertheim, LLC v. Currency Corp." on Justia Law

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After successfully obtaining summary judgment on a lawsuit brought by his former employer, Antonio Cuevas-Martinez sued the employer and their attorney (collectively, respondents) for malicious prosecution. Respondents filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint. The trial court granted the motion, concluding Cuevas-Martinez failed to present prima facie evidence respondents filed the lawsuit without probable cause. The court based its ruling on Jarrow Formulas, Inc. v. LaMarche, 31 Cal.4th 728 (2003), which held the entry of summary judgment on a prior lawsuit for insufficient evidence does not, by itself, establish a probability of prevailing on the merits of a subsequent malicious prosecution claim. On appeal, Cuevas-Martinez argued Jarrow was inapplicable because he did not rely on the mere fact of summary judgment victory, but instead submitted evidence that, if credited by a trier of fact, would support a verdict in his favor. The Court of Appeal agreed Cuevas-Martinez demonstrated his claim has the requisite minimal merit to survive anti- SLAPP scrutiny, and therefore reverse. View "Cuevas-Martinez v. Sun Salt Sand, Inc." on Justia Law