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When a lease of federal lands includes an option to extend its term and the tax assessor reasonably concludes that the option will likely be exercised, the value of the leasehold interest is properly based on the extended term. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of dismissal entered after the trial court sustained without leave to amend the County's demurrer to Glovis's complaint for refund of property taxes. The court held that the terms of the lease evidenced the parties' mutual intent to grant Glovis the option to extend its possession of the Navy's property past the initial five-year term; the lease clearly and explicitly gave Glovis the exclusive right to lease the Navy's property under 2028; and there was no language permitting the Navy to withdraw or revoke its offer. The court independently reviewed whether to use extrinsic evidence to interpret the lease and held that there was no need to do so in this case. Finally, the court rejected Glovis's contention that the assessor erred when he determined it was reasonable to assume the option will be exercised. View "Glovis America, Inc. v. County of Ventura" on Justia Law

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John Doe appealed the superior court's decision denying his petition for writ of administrative mandate to compel UCSB to rescind his suspension after he was found guilty of sexual misconduct in violation of the Student Conduct Code. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that John was denied access to critical evidence; denied the opportunity to adequately cross-examine witnesses; and denied the opportunity to present evidence in his defense. The court held that the accused must be permitted to see the evidence against him and, in this case, John was not permitted access to the complete Sexual Assault Response Team report. This error was prejudicial to John. Furthermore, cumulative errors occurred at the hearing, including the exclusion of John's evidence of the side effects of Viibryd, a prescription antidepressant, that Jane Roe was taking. The court held that neither Jane nor John received a fair hearing where the lack of due process precluded a fair evaluation of the witnesses' credibility. View "Doe v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the superior court's grant of a petition for writ of administrative mandamus by a former USC student and order to vacate USC's decision to discipline him for violating the university's academic integrity standards. The court held that substantial evidence supported USC's decision that Doe cheated. In this case, it was undisputed that Doe and Student B sat next to each other during the final examination in Biology 220; had the same version of the examination although adjacent students were supposed to have different versions; answered 46 of the 50 examination questions identically, a highly anomalous statistical result; and wrote large letter answers in the margins of the examination booklets that would be visible to the students sitting next to them. Accordingly, the court remanded with directions to deny the petition for writ of administrative mandamus. View "Doe v. University of Southern California" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Musclewood, alleging that defendants violated his rights under the Disabled Persons Act (DPA), by allowing their guard dog to interfere with and attack plaintiff's guide dog. Plaintiff, who is blind, had been trained to use a route that passed in front of defendants' business when he traveled to the market or bus stop. Defendants' guard dog was not trained, leashed, or otherwise controlled or restrained. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by sustaining a demurrer to his cause of action under the DPA without leave to amend where plaintiff stated a valid claim under section 54.3 of the DPA and plaintiff sufficiently alleged standing for damages. The court also reversed the trial court's order granting a motion to strike. In this case, the trial court committed reversible error by striking the first cause of action, the prayer for damages (including treble damages), and the prayer for attorney fees. View "Ruiz v. Musclewood Investment Properties" on Justia Law

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The appeal presented to the Court of Appeal here was one in a certified wage and hour class action following a judgment after a bench trial in favor of defendants Certified Tire and Services Centers, Inc. (Certified Tire) and Barrett Business Services. Inc. (collectively, defendants). Plaintiffs contended Certified Tire violated the applicable minimum wage and rest period requirements by implementing a compensation program, which guaranteed its automotive technicians a specific hourly wage above the minimum wage for all hours worked during each pay period but also gave them the possibility of earning a higher hourly wage for all hours worked during each pay period based on certain productivity measures. The Court of Appeal concluded plaintiffs' arguments lacked merit, and accordingly affirmed the judgment. View "Certified Tire and Service Centers Wage and Hour Cases" on Justia Law

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Tri Palms Unified Owners Association (the Association) was a group of homeowners in the Tri-Palms Estates. There was a recreation facility adjacent to the Tri-Palms Estates, and homeowners paid a fee for that recreation facility. In 2014, in bankruptcy proceedings, Kort & Scott Financial Group, LLC (K&S) was the successful bidder on the recreation facility. The Association entered into a settlement agreement with K&S. As a result of the Agreement, some members of the Association were required to pay an increased fee for the recreation facility. In 2016, Alex Cheveldave and Richard Davis, who were members of the Association, sued the Association, K&S, and Shenandoah Ventures, L.P., arguing that the Association did not have standing to enter into the Agreement. The Association filed an anti-SLAPP motion which the trial court granted. Cheveldave argued on appeal of that judgment the trial court erred by granting the anti-SLAPP motion. After review of the trial court record, the Court of Appeal determined Cheveldave established his case had "minimal merit," and the trial court erred by granting the anti-SLAPP motion. View "Cheveldave v. Tri Palms Unified Owners Assn." on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of theft from an elder or dependent adult in 2010 (the criminal action). After the victim died before the end of the criminal action, plaintiff, the conservator and the co-administrator, filed two actions against defendant under Probate Code section 850, seeking civil damages (the probate action) and another action that resulted in a restitution award (restitution judgment). The Court of Appeal held that, pursuant to the terms of a stipulation concerning the amount of restitution in the criminal action, defendant's prejudgment restitution payments should have been credited against principal rather than interest. The court held, however, that even after adjusting the remaining principal on the restitution judgment to account for prejudgment payments, defendant still owed a substantial sum. Therefore, the court remanded for recalculation of the amount remaining due on the restitution judgment. The court rejected defendant's remaining arguments. The court affirmed the judgment in the probate action. View "Kerley v. Weber" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Samantha Martinez sued defendant Eatlite One, Inc., for employment discrimination among other things. A jury found in favor of plaintiff on all of her claims and awarded $11,490 in damages. After the court entered judgment, both parties submitted competing memoranda of costs, and plaintiff filed a motion for attorney fees. The court awarded costs and attorney fees to plaintiff. Defendant contended the trial court erred because plaintiff did not obtain a judgment more favorable than defendant’s offer to compromise under Code of Civil Procedure section 998. The Court of Appeal agreed and reversed portions of the postjudgment orders awarding post-offer costs and attorney fees to plaintiff. View "Martinez v. Eatlite One, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment reducing a law firm's fee to 10 percent in an action where the law firm represented the family of a pilot who died in a plane crash. The court held that the trial court abused its discretion when it awarded the attorney fees of only 10 percent of the total value of the settlement where the trial court gave too little consideration to California Rules of Court, rule 7.955(a)(2), which required it to take into account the terms of the law firm's representation agreement. The court declined to determine in the first instance what fee would be appropriate under rule 7.955 and remanded for the trial court to consider the matter in the first instance. View "Schulz v. Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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In 2011, Pipkin was sentenced to state prison for two years after his probation was revoked with respect to a 2009 felony grand theft conviction. As a condition of parole with respect to this qualifying offense, Pipkin was committed to Atascadero State Hospital in October 2011, for treatment as a mentally disordered offender (MDO), Penal Code section 2962. Before Pipkin’s release from parole, the District Attorney filed a successful section 2970 petition seeking Pipkin’s continued commitment as an MDO for an additional year. In May 2015, the District Attorney filed a recommitment petition for the one-year period beginning October 13, 2015. However, in August 2015, Pipkin’s qualifying conviction for grand theft was reduced to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47, so Pipkin moved to dismiss the pending recommitment petition, arguing that further commitment as an MDO was not authorized because his qualifying conviction must now be treated as a misdemeanor “for all purposes.” (Penal Code 1170.18(k)). The trial court, in March 2016, denied Pipkin’s motion and granted the recommitment petition. After Pipkin’s MDO commitment expired in October 2016, no further petition for recommitment was filed. The court of appeal dismissed his appeal because Pipkin is no longer subject to civil commitment. View "People v. Pipkin" on Justia Law