Articles Posted in California Supreme Court

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Plaintiff prevailed at trial in an action for financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult. The judgment was affirmed on appeal. After judgment, Plaintiff brought a separate action seeking to prevent or reverse Defendant’s transfer of real property to third persons. Plaintiff subsequently dismissed the fraudulent transfer action pursuant to an agreement with Defendant. Thereafter, Plaintiff moved for costs and attorney fees incurred both on appeal from the elder abuse judgment and in the fraudulent transfer action. The court of appeals concluded that the fees and costs motion was untimely under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 685.040. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) as to attorney fees on appeal from the elder abuse judgment, the motion was not subject to section 685.080 because Plaintiff’s efforts in opposing Defendant’s appeal were not undertaken to enforce the judgment but to defend it against reversal or modification; and (2) Plaintiff’s motion was untimely as to fees incurred enforcing the judgment through the separate fraudulent transfer action because the fees incurred in that action could only be recovered under section 685.040. View "In re Conservatorship of McQueen" on Justia Law

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The County Assessor reassessed two mobile home parks owned by resident-controlled nonprofit corporations after some residents sold both their mobile homes and their interests in the corporation. The mobile homes, classified as personal property, were assessed separately. The Assessor appraised the real property interest subject to reassessment by the extraction method of appraisal. The Appeal Board rejected the appraisals submitted by the Assessor and instead used those submitted by the corporations to calculate the value of the interests subject to reassessment. The Assessor filed a petition for writ of administrative mandate. The trial court denied the petition, and the court of appeal affirmed, concluding that the Assessor’s method for the taxation of changes in the mobile home ownership was not the method set out in Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code 62.1(b). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 62.1(b) simply describes a unit of real property that is subject to reassessment and does not mandate any particular formula for appraising this unit; and (2) because the Appeal Board’s decisions were premised on an erroneously interpretation of section 62.1(b), the Appeal Board abused its discretion, and the Assessor’s petition for a writ of mandate should have been granted. View "Holland v. Assessment Appeals Bd." on Justia Law

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Developer sought to build ninety-six condominiums, but as a condition of obtaining a permit to do so, City required Developer to set aside ten condominium units as below market rate housing and make a substantial payment to a city fund. Developer challenged these requirements but did so while proceeding with construction. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether Cal. Gov't Code 66020, which permits a developer to proceed with a project while also protesting the imposition of "fees, dedications, reservations, or other exactions," applied in this case. The lower courts held that section 66020 did not apply, and thus, the action was untimely. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that even if the requirements at issue in this case were not "fees" under section 66020, they were "other exactions," and accordingly, Developer was permitted to challenge the requirements while the project proceeded. View "Sterling Park, LP v. City of Palo Alto" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an action to quiet title to a parcel of real property, alleging he owned the property because he had been the highest bidder at a trustee's sale. After Plaintiff gave the auctioneer his cashier's check at the sale, the trustee told Plaintiff the sale was void. The trustee based its refusal on its discovery that it had mistakenly communicated to the auctioneer an incorrect opening bid by the lender that was less than ten percent of the actual amount of the bid. After the trustee refused to tender the deed to Plaintiff, Plaintiff filed this action. The trustee moved for summary judgment on the ground that it had properly set aside the foreclosure sale due to a significant procedural irregularity in the statutory foreclosure process coupled with an inadequate sales price. The trial court ultimately granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the trustee's error was not a procedural irregularity in the statutory foreclosure process and that the trustee therefore had no discretionary authority to void the foreclosure sale. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the circumstances here, the trustee acted within its discretion authority in declaring the sale void. View "Biancalana v. T.D. Serv. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, including a California corporation (Corporation), filed a lawsuit for property damage against Defendants. Before trial, Defendants learned the state had suspended Corporation's corporate powers for nonpayment of taxes. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants. Plaintiffs, including Corporation, appealed. On December 1, 2011, Defendants filed separate motions to dismiss Corporation's appeals because its corporate powers were still suspended. Corporation presented documentation showing its corporate powers had been revived on December 8, 2011 and argued that this revival made its appeal effective. The court of appeals denied the motions. Defendants petitioned for review. At issue was whether a corporation that files notices of appeal while its corporate powers are suspended may proceed with the appeals after those powers have been revived, even if the revival occurs after the time to appeal has expired. Relying on precedent, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appeals may proceed. View "Bourhis v. Lord" on Justia Law

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This controversy arose after the City of Los Angeles refused to accept Pacific Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates's application to convert its 170-unit mobilehome park from tenant occupancy to resident ownership because Palisades Bowl had failed to include applications for a coastal development permit or for Mello Act approval. Palisades Bowl filed a petition for writ of mandate and a complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief. The trial court granted the relief, commanding the City to evaluate the application for approval without considering whether it complied with either the California Coastal Act or the Mello Act. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the requirements of the Coastal Act and the Mello Act apply to a proposed conversion, within California's coastal zone, of a mobilehome park from tenant occupancy to resident ownership. In so holding, the Court rejected the argument that such a conversion is not a "development" for the purposes of the Coastal Act and that Cal. Gov't Code 66427.5 exempts such conversion from the need to comply with other state laws, or precludes local governmental agencies from exercising state-delegated authority to require compliance with state laws such as the Coastal Act or the Mello Act. View "Pac. Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates, LLC v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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This case involved a dispute between Los Angeles County (County) and forty-seven cities (Cities) within County regarding how County calculated and imposed property tax administration fees on Cities for their share of County's costs in administering the property tax system. Cities petitioned the trial court for a writ of administrative mandate ordering County and its auditor-controller to reimburse Cities for the amount disputed in fiscal year 2006-2007. Following a trial, the referee ruled that County's method of calculating the disputed fee was consistent with legislative intent and did not violate Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code 97.75. The court of appeal reversed, relying almost exclusively on the plain meaning of section 97.75 to conclude that County's method of calculation was unlawful. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that County's method of calculating property tax administration fees violated the statutory scheme. View "City of Alhambra v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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An owners association for a construction defect action against a condominium developer, seeking recovery for damage to its property and damage to the separate interests of the condominium owners who composed its membership. In response, the developer filed a motion to compel arbitration based on a clause in the recorded declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions providing that the association and the individual owners agreed to resolve any construction dispute with the developer through binding arbitration. The trial court determined that the clause embodied an agreement to arbitrate between the developer and the association but invalidated the agreement upon finding it marked by slight substantive unconscionability and a high degree of procedural unconscionability. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitration clause bound the association and was not unconscionable. View "Pinnacle Museum Tower Ass'n v. Pinnacle Market Dev." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the county's determination that a proposed building project was categorically exempt from compliance with environmental law requirements. At issue was a statutory provision stating that a public agency's approval of a proposed project could be challenged in court only on grounds that were "presented to the public agency orally or in writing by any person during the public comment period...or prior to the close of the public hearing on the project before the issuance of the notice of determination." Pub. Resources Code, 21177, subd.(a). The court held that this exhaustion-of-administrative-remedies provision applied to a public agency's decision that a project was categorically exempt from environmental law requirements. Therefore, the judgment of the Court of Appeal was reversed, and the matter was remanded to that court so it could address petitioners' remaining contentions that, although raised by petitioners, were not resolved by that court because of its conclusion that section 21177's exhaustion-of-administrative remedies requirement was inapplicable.

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This case stemmed from the taking of property in downtown Los Angeles to comply with a federal court order to improve the quality of bus services and involved California's "quick-take" eminent domain procedure, Code of Civil Procedure 1255.010, 1244.410, where a public entity filing a condemnation action could seek immediate possession of the condemned property upon depositing with the court the probable compensation for the property. At issue was Section 1255.260's proper interpretation. The court of appeals in this case held that, under the statute, if a lender holding a lien on condemned property applied to withdraw a portion of the deposit, and the property owner did not object to the application, the lender's withdrawal of a portion of the deposit constituted a waiver of the property owner's claims and defenses, except a claim for greater compensation. The court found the court of appeal's conclusion was inconsistent with the relevant statutory language and framework. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals.