Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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Plaintiff Rodney Davis, a physician assistant, learned to perform liposuction under the guidance of a physician. Davis grew dissatisfied with the physician for whom he worked, so he decided to establish a new practice. To do so, Davis needed a physician to serve as his supervising physician. Davis found Dr. Jerrell Borup, who had been an anesthesiologist for 18 years, but who had not practiced medicine for 12 years. Before meeting Davis, Borup had never performed liposuction or other surgery. Borup agreed to serve as “Medical Director,” although he would never perform a procedure at the new practice. Borup’s role, in practice, consisted of reviewing charts. Davis, who gave himself the title of “Director of Surgery,” would perform all of the liposuction procedures. Davis opened his practice, Pacific Liposculpture, in September 2010. In 2015, the Physician Assistant Board (the Board) filed an accusation accusing Davis of, among other things, the unlicensed practice of medicine, gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, and false and/or misleading advertising. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found the Board’s accusations were established by clear and convincing evidence, and recommended the revocation of Davis’s license. The Board adopted the ALJ’s findings and recommendations. Davis filed a petition for a writ of administrative mandamus seeking, inter alia, a writ compelling the Board to set aside its decision. The trial court denied the petition. On appeal, Davis argued the ALJ erred in finding that he committed the various acts alleged, and that the findings were not supported by substantial evidence. He further claimed that the discipline imposed constituted a manifest abuse of discretion. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Davis v. Physician Assistant Board" on Justia Law

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D.M. (father) appealed the termination of his parental rights to his biological daughter A.C. (child). He contended there was a failure to inquire into whether he had Indian ancestry, as required by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and related federal and state law. The issue arose because the mother plainly did have Indian ancestry — she was an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe; an older daughter had been removed from her custody and transferred to the jurisdiction of the tribe. Apparently no one thought it was worth asking whether the father, too, might have Indian ancestry. When the mother’s tribe surprised everyone by reporting that the child was not a member and not eligible for membership, the juvenile court found (without any further inquiry regarding the father ) that ICWA did not apply. San Bernardino County Children and Family Services (CFS) did not dispute there was a failure to inquire, however, it contended the father did not show the error was prejudicial. To this, the Court of Appeal agreed: the father did not claim he had any Indian ancestry. "Because he has not managed to clear this rather low hurdle, there is no reason to suppose that, absent the error, the outcome would have been any different. And, more to the point, there is no reason to reverse and remand for a further inquiry, which would not only entail effort and expense, but would also delay permanency for A.C." View "In re A.C." on Justia Law

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Appellants owned beachfront mobilehomes in Capistrano Shores Mobile Home Park located in the City of San Clemente. Each of their mobilehomes was a single-story residence. Between 2011 and 2013, appellants each applied for, and received, a permit from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to remodel their respective mobilehome. Appellants also applied for coastal development permits from the Coastal Commission. Their applications expressly indicated they were not addressing any component of the remodels for which they obtained HCD permits, including the addition of second stories. Rather, their coastal development permit applications concerned desired renovations on the grounds surrounding the mobilehome structures, including items such as carports, patio covers, and barbeques. Appellants completed their remodels at various times between 2011 and 2014. The parties disputed whether appellants received, prior to completion of construction, any communication from the Coastal Commission concerning the need for a coastal development permit for their projects.In February 2014, the Coastal Commission issued notices to appellants that the then-complete renovation of their residential structures was unauthorized and illegal without a coastal development permit. Faced with a potential need to demolish, at minimum, completed second-story additions to their mobilehomes, appellants unsuccessfully petitioned for a writ of mandate declaring that the coastal development permits were deemed approved by operation of law under the Permit Streamlining Act. In denying the petition, the trial court concluded the Coastal Commission had jurisdiction to require appellants to obtain coastal development permits and the prerequisite public notice to deemed approval under the Streamlining Act did not occur. Appellants contended on appeal that the trial court erred in both respects. The Court of Appeal concluded appellants’ writ petition should have been granted. "The Coastal Commission has concurrent jurisdiction with the California Department of Housing and Community Development over mobilehomes located in the coastal zone. Thus, even though appellants obtained a permit from the latter, they were also required to obtain a permit from the former. The Coastal Commission’s failure to act on appellants’ applications for costal development permits, however, resulted in the applications being deemed approved under the Streamlining Act." Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded the matter with directions to the trial court to vacate the existing judgment and enter a new judgment granting appellants’ petition. View "Linovitz Capo Shores LLC v. California Coastal Commission" on Justia Law

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The County of Sacramento (County) filed an action to abate building and housing code violations at two properties owned or managed by Raj Singh and Kiran Rawat, individually and as trustee of the SitaRam Living Trust dated 2007 and the Sita Ram Trust. The trial court appointed a receiver under Health and Safety Code section 17980.7 to take control of and rehabilitate the properties upon the County’s motion. Singh appealed pro se the trial court’s order approving the receiver’s final account and report and discharging the receiver. The Court of Appeal addressed Singh's claims "as best as [the Court could] discern them." After careful consideration of Singh's claims, the Court found no reversible error and affirmed the trial court. View "County of Sacramento v. Rawat" on Justia Law

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T.W., the de facto parent of the minor, appealed a juvenile court’s order removing the minor from his and his wife’s care and placing the minor with her maternal relatives. He contended the juvenile court abused its discretion in entering the orders and that placement with the maternal relatives was not in the minor’s best interests. The respondent Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services elected not to file an appellate brief, as its position was aligned with appellant’s position at the contested hearing giving rise to this appeal. The respondent minor, who argued in favor of placement with the maternal relatives, contended appellant did not have standing to raise the issue of placement in this appeal and, in any event, the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in ordering placement with the maternal relatives. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded appellant lacked standing to contest the placement order, and dismissed the appeal. View "In re B.S." on Justia Law

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A three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Alameda County Superior Court (ACSC), the County, and the Sheriff’s Office governed court security services. The trial court held that the MOU did not obligate the Sheriff to provide a minimum level of court security services of 129 “FTEs” (full-time equivalents) after the MOU's expiration but rather entitled the County and the Sheriff to unilaterally reduce court security services if state funding was not sufficient to pay for 129 FTEs. The decision turned on the court's conclusion that MOU Exhibit C-3 permitted the Sheriff to reduce court security services during the last six months of the three-year MOU period and was the “deployment schedule” that remained in force after the MOU’s expiration.ACSC argued that Exhibit C-1, the deployment schedule that governed the level of court security during the first two years and required a minimum of 129 FTEs, was the only deployment schedule in the MOU, and remained in force after the MOU's expiration. The court of appeal reversed. Exhibit C-1’s provisions remained in force after the expiration of the MOU because Exhibit C-1 is the only portion of the MOU that meets the requirement of Government Code section 699261 that a court security MOU must specify an “agreed-upon level” of court security services. Exhibit C-3 did not satisfy that requirement. View "Superior Court v. County of Alameda" on Justia Law

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In a California Environmental Quality Act (Act) challenge, the issue presented concerned the adoption of a mitigated negative declaration for and approval of the Newtown Road Bridge at South Fork Weber Creek Replacement Project (the project) by respondents El Dorado County (County) and its board of supervisors (collectively, respondents). The proposed project would replace an existing bridge. Petitioners Newtown Preservation Society, an unincorporated association, and Wanda Nagel (collectively, petitioners) challenged the mitigated negative declaration, arguing, among other things, the project might have significant impacts on fire evacuation routes during construction and, thus, the County was required to prepare an environmental impact report. The trial court upheld the mitigated negative declaration. Petitioners appealed, arguing the trial court erred in upholding the mitigated negative declaration because: (1) substantial evidence supported a fair argument of potentially significant impacts on resident safety and emergency evacuation; (2) the County impermissibly deferred analysis of temporary emergency evacuation impacts; (3) the County impermissibly deferred mitigation of such impacts; and (4) the County deferred analysis of impacts pertaining to construction of a temporary evacuation route. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded petitioners’ framing of the fair argument test in terms of the project having “potentially significant impacts on resident safety and emergency evacuation” was erroneous. Petitioners thus failed to carry their burden of showing substantial evidence supported a fair argument of significant environmental impact in that regard. In the unpublished portion of the opinion, the Court concluded the County did not impermissibly defer mitigation and decline to consider the two remaining arguments. Finding no merit in petitioners’ contentions, judgment was affirmed. View "Newtown Preservation Society v. County of El Dorado" on Justia Law

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In the lawsuit underlying these consolidated writ proceedings, the People of the State of California, by and through the Santa Clara County Counsel, the Orange County District Attorney, the Los Angeles County Counsel, and the Oakland City Attorney, filed an action against defendants— various pharmaceutical companies involved in the manufacture, marketing, distribution, and sale of prescription opioid medications. The People alleged the defendants made false and misleading statements as part of a deceptive marketing scheme designed to minimize the risks of opioid medications and inflate their benefits. This scheme, the People alleged, caused a public health crisis in California by dramatically increasing the number of opioid prescriptions, the use and abuse of opioids, and opioid-related deaths. These proceedings pertained to a discovery dispute after several of the defendants served subpoenas on two nonparty counties, petitioners County of Los Angeles and County of Alameda, seeking records of patients in various county programs, including individual prescription data and individual patient records related to substance abuse treatment. After petitioners and the Johnson & Johnson defendants engaged in various informal and formal means to attempt to resolve the dispute, the superior court issued a discovery order granting the Johnson & Johnson defendants’ motions to compel production of the records. The Court of Appeal concluded petitioners established that the superior court’s order threatened a serious intrusion into the privacy interests of the patients whose records were at issue: the Johnson & Johnson defendants failed to demonstrate their interests in obtaining “such a vast production of medical information” outweighed the significant privacy interests that the nonparty petitioners identified. Accordingly, the Court granted petitioners’ writ petitions and directed the superior court to vacate its order compelling production of the requested documents, and to enter a new order denying Johnson & Johnson defendants’ motions to compel. View "County of Los Angeles v. Superior Ct." on Justia Law

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Homeowners sought free refuse collection from the City of San Diego for their 12 condominiums located in a gated complex in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. The City refused the request to initiate service on the grounds the complex did not qualify under its Waste Management Regulation (WMR). In response to the denial of service, the Homeowners brought suit against the City asserting the WMR was issued in violation of the San Diego Municipal Code, and claiming that the City’s use of the WMR to deny them service violated their equal protection rights. After discovery, the City brought a successful motion for summary judgment. Thereafter, the trial court entered judgment in the City’s favor. The Homeowners appealed, contending the court erred by finding the WMR was validly promulgated and that there were no triable issues of fact with respect to their equal protection claims. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Perry v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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Verizon California Inc.’s (Verizon) petitioned the California State Board of Equalization’s (Board) to reduce its assessments for the tax years 2008 through 2012. Verizon paid the taxes levied by the counties for each year based on the Board-assessed values set forth in its petitions. Verizon then joined with Board staff to seek approval from the Board of joint recommendations to lower the assessed values of its property set forth in its petitions. The Board approved the joint recommendations. Verizon then filed actions for refunds for the years 2008 through 2012 arguing that the Board should have adopted the valuations proposed in its petitions. The trial court consolidated the actions. The Board moved for summary adjudication of the claims on the ground the court lacked jurisdiction because in approving the Verizon/Board staff recommendations for reduced valuations Verizon failed to exhaust its administrative remedies with respect to the valuations it claimed in its petitions. The trial court granted the motion for summary adjudication of the consolidated actions based on the Board’s approvals of the parties’ joint recommendations for a reduction in assessed valuations. On this basis, the trial court concluded: “Because of the mutually agreed recommendation[s] on value, no disputed issues were presented to the Board for [tax years] 2008 through 2012. In each of those five years, the Board adopted the revised value that had been jointly recommended by Verizon and [the Board] staff, reducing Verizon’s tax basis by over $1.1 billion in the aggregate. [¶] . . .Verizon cannot ask the Board to adopt a jointly presented reduction in value, receive the agreed reduction, and then turn around and sue for a lower value than it asked the Board to adopt.” Verizon timely appealed the trial court’s decision, arguing again that the Board should have adopted the valuations it proposed in its petitions to the Board to reassess its property. The Court of Appeal determined the statutory ground of the actions required a “dispute” regarding the Board’s assessments of the property. Finding none, the Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Verizon California v. Board of Equalization" on Justia Law