Articles Posted in California Court of Appeal

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Plaintiff, a member of the HOA, requested inspection of the HOA's membership list and other records. After the HOA largely denied the request, plaintiff filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking to compel the HOA to allow him to inspect and copy the requested records. The court concluded that substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that plaintiff sought the information for an improper purpose; and the HOA's challenge to disclosing the membership list was not barred by statute. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court's judgment requiring disclosure of the membership list, and otherwise affirmed the judgment. View "Tract No. 7260 Assn. v. Parker" on Justia Law

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Two trial courts invalidated San Francisco ordinances increasing the relocation assistance payments property owners owe their tenants under the Ellis Act, Gov. Code 7060, finding the ordinances facially preempted by the Act. The Ellis Act prohibits a city or county from “compel[ling] the owner of any residential real property to offer, or to continue to offer, accommodations in the property for rent or lease.” The ordinances, intended to mitigate the impact of evictions on low-income tenants, required the greater of either an inflation-adjusted base relocation payout per tenant of $5,555.21 to $16,665.59 per unit, with an additional payment of $3,703.46 to each elderly or disabled evicted tenant or “the difference between the tenant’s current rent and the prevailing rent for a comparable apartment in San Francisco over a two-year period.” In a consolidated appeal, the court of appeal affirmed, stating that “a locality may not impose additional burdensome requirements upon the exercise of state statutory remedies that undermine the very purpose of the state statute.” View "Coyne v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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In three related actions, three separate plaintiffs sought the return of seized property based on the ground that government agencies failed to comply with the statutory requirements for nonjudicial forfeiture. Defendants filed general demurrers in response to plaintiffs' petitions for writ of mandate. The demurrers were sustained based on the one-year statute of limitations. The court concluded that the one-year statute of limitations under section 340 of the Code of Civil Procedure was not applicable to plaintiffs' petitions filed in the trial court. Rather, the three-year statute of limitations set forth in section 338, subdivision (c), of the Code of Civil Procedure was applicable, and plaintiffs' petitions were timely filed under that latter statute. Because the district court erred in sustaining the demurrer on statue of limitations grounds, the court reversed the judgment. View "Ramirez v. Tulare County District Attorney's Office" on Justia Law

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The Townhouse Motel in Crescent City first became a subject of code enforcement efforts in 2006. Until 2013, the city repeatedly ordered Reddy to abate dangerous conditions. In 2013, following an inspection, the city issued a Notice and Order to Repair or Abate listing 76 building code violations and other illegal conditions and ordering Reddy to rehabilitate the property within 30 days. A subsequent inspection found that Reddy had not made the required repairs. The city filed suit. The court entered a stipulated judgment requiring Reddy to upgrade the property within six months and to cease renting rooms to the same occupant for more than 30 days. Nearly a year later, the city inspected and found little or no improvement. The inspectors concluded that “conditions on the [property] pose a substantial danger to the life, limb, health, and safety of the occupants of the motel, the residents of the surrounding community, and the public in general.” In October 2014, the city successfully moved for the appointment of a receiver to oversee the property’s rehabilitation. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting arguments that the trial court erred in overruling Reddy’s objections to the city’s evidentiary submissions and in failing to take live testimony. View "City of Crescent City v. Reddy" on Justia Law

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After Westlake Health failed to vacate Westlake Village, plaintiff filed suit for unlawful detainer. Westlake Health argued that its lease was senior to the deed of trust and that the notice to quit was invalid because it was served before title was recorded. The trial court found that the lease was subordinate to the deed of trust and was extinguished by the trustee's sale, and that the notice to quit was valid. Westlake Health was evicted and plaintiff leased the facility to another business. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to dismiss Westlake Health's appeal as moot. While this case was under submission, the state Supreme Court ordered publication of U.S. Financial, L.P. v. McLitus (2016). In McLitus, the Appellate Division of the San Diego County Superior Court held that a property owner's service of a notice to quit before it perfects title to the property renders invalid any subsequent unlawful detainer proceeding. The court explained that none of the cases cited in McLitus support the requirement that title be perfected before service of the notice to quit. In this case, the court rejected Westlake Health's claim that the notice to quit was premature, and held that Code of Civil Procedure section 1161a does not require that title be recorded before the notice to quit was served. Accordingly, the court denied the motion to dismiss and affirmed the judgment, awarding plaintiff costs on appeal. View "Dr. Leevil, LLC v. Westlake Health Care Center" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a homeowner in Rancho Palos Verdes, submitted an application to his HOA, seeking to invoke the HOA's dispute resolution process against a neighbor who refused to trim trees blocking defendant's views. Plaintiff, another neighbor and HOA member, filed suit against defendant and the HOA, alleging that two of the offending trees were actually on his property, that the relevant tree-trimming covenant did not encumber his property, and therefore that defendant and the HOA were wrongfully clouding his title by seeking to apply such an encumbrance. The trial court granted defendant's special motion to strike the claims alleged against him under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, the anti-SLAPP statute. The court concluded that defendant made a prima facie showing that plaintiff's complaint arose from defendant's statements made in connection with an issue of public interest. Therefore, defendant's statements were protected under section 425.16. The court also concluded that plaintiff could not show a probability of success on the merits of his claims against defendant, particularly because defendant dismissed his application shortly after the lawsuit was filed and has never sought to invoke the HOA's tree-trimming process against plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Colyear v. Rolling Hills Community Association" on Justia Law

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In 1996 Brown Field Aviation Ventures leased space at Brown Field Airport from the City of San Diego under a long-term, master lease agreement. Brown Field Aviation Ventures subleased the space to Bearden Aviation, Inc. (Bearden), and Bearden subleased it to Finch Aerospace Corporation (Finch). Finch occupied the space with three airplane hangars. Lancair Corporation (Lancair) later purchased Bearden's leasehold. In 2005 the City amended and restated the master lease. Finch attempted to enter a new lease directly with the City and remove its hangars from Lancair's leasehold; however, Lancair claimed to own and control the hangars. Finch subsequently filed a complaint against Lancair alleging causes of action for quiet title, declaratory relief, intentional interference with economic advantage, conversion, and retaliatory eviction. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal’s review was whether the immunities in Government Code sections 818.8 and 822.2 applied to a slander of title cause of action and, if not, whether Finch otherwise adequately alleged a slander of title cause of action against the City. The Court concluded the immunities in sections 818.8 and 822.2 did not apply to a slander of title cause of action. Furthermore, the Court concluded Finch did not otherwise adequately allege a slander of title cause of action nor did Finch demonstrate it could cure the pleading deficiencies by amendment. Therefore, the trial court did not err in sustaining the City's demurrer to Finch's complaint without leave to amend. View "Finch Aerospace Corp. v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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In 1996, Vieira acquired a Capitola mobile home park. According to the deed, part of the western boundary was the center line of Rosedale Avenue, a 40-foot-wide private road. The apparent boundary was different because part of Rosedale Avenue had been fenced in to the west, with a gate crossing at the park’s northern boundary. In 2009, Vieira’s neighbor, McCoy, wanted to begin construction that involved removal of the fences and gate and regular use of his right of way on Vieira’s property. Vieira sought to quiet title on the basis that Vieira’s adverse possession had terminated McCoy’s recorded right of way and alleged that McCoy had trespassed on Vieira’s right of way. McCoy filed cross claims. The court determined that Vieira had not carried its burden of establishing the elements of adverse possession, principally occupation sufficiently hostile to provide notice to McCoy; that structures built by McCoy on Vieira’s right of way do not unreasonably interfere with Vieira’s right of way and that a mobile home extension built on McCoy’s right of way does not unreasonably interfere with his right of way. A jury awarded McCoy $20,000 after finding that blockading of the road involved trespass. The court of appeals affirmed. Vieira correctly argued that the burden of proof of a prescriptive easement (or termination) is not clear and convincing evidence; that adverse possession of an easement can originate with the possessor’s mistake; and that the court did not instruct the jury about damages for annoyance and discomfort, but the errors did not require reversal. View "Vieira Enterprises, Inc. v. McCoy" on Justia Law

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This case stems from the simultaneous refinancing of a home equity line of credit by two different lenders in 2006, which resulted in a dispute over the priority of their recorded deeds of trust. On appeal, Bank of New York Melon challenged the dismissal of its suit against Citibank. The court reversed the judgment sustaining Citibank's demurrers to Bank of New York Melon's first and second amended complaints, that alleged all of Bank of New York Melon's causes of action were barred by the three-year statute of limitations in Code of Civil Procedure section 338. The court concluded, however, that Bank of New York Melon has stated a claim for equitable subrogation, which is not subject to the statute. The court considered all other theories in the first and second amended complaint to be variations of that cause of action, rather than independent causes of action, as they assert no independent right for which relief may be granted under California law. The court explained that the claim for equitable subrogation is not subject to the statute and is not time-barred. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Citibank" on Justia Law

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Jacobs, a licensed California real estate broker, had the “exclusive and irrevocable right” to sell a Marin County parcel for one year. The listing price was $2,200,000; if Jacobs procured a buyer during the listing period, Jacobs would receive a commission of $200,000. The agreement specified that if one named party bought the property, Jacobs would receive no commission. Locatelli signed the agreement as trustee of the Locatelli Trust, but there were blank signature lines for five additional parties. Jacobs claimed that Locatelli stated that he was authorized to act on behalf of the other owners and that she can obtain a written “agency agreement” through discovery. When Jacobs noted interest in the property by TPL, Locatelli was angry and asserted that he had been speaking with TPL for three years and that he wanted to change the agreement. Jacobs claimed that she investigated and that her TPL contact told her that he did not know Locatelli and had not been aware the property was for sale until he was contacted by Jacobs. Later, the owners and TPL entered into a sales contract. The sale was never consummated, apparently because issues arose between the parties. Jacobs sued the owners and TPL. The trial court dismissed without explanation. The court of appeal reversed, finding that the claims were not barred by the statute of frauds or the parol evidence rule. View "Jacobs v. Locatelli" on Justia Law