Litigation & Appellate Law
The Firm’s attorneys have experience and expertise in all aspects of federal and state civil, administrative, and code enforcement litigation practices and procedures to effectively, and successfully, represent public entities. We have represented public entity clients in administrative hearings, mediations, arbitrations, civil litigation and appeals and criminal prosecutions involving all of the substantive areas of the law necessary to protect the interests of, and zealously defend, the communities we represent.
- Water rights litigation
- California Environmental Quality (“CEQA”) litigation
- Brown Act litigation
- Public Records Act litigation
- Conflict of Interest litigation
- Civil Rights litigation
- Tort litigation
- Land Use litigation
- Code Enforcement
- Public Works litigation
- Employment litigation
- Inverse Condemnation
- Eminent Domain
Expertise in Action:
A representative listing of litigation our attorneys have handled is as follows:
- Downtown Fresno Coalition v. City of Fresno, Fresno Superior Court, Case No. 14CECG00890; Fifth Appellate District, Case No. F070845. Between 2014 and 2016, we represented the City of Fresno in the Fulton Mall CEQA litigation. This litigation challenged the environmental review done for the project that included a $16 Million federal grant the City of Fresno received to develop a downtown main street. Petitioners argued that the City improperly pre-committed to the project before completing the EIR and that the EIR was deficient in numerous respects. The City prevailed both in the trial court and Court of Appeal in that case and the EIR completed for the project was upheld in full. We handled the successful defense of this matter for the City of Fresno at both the trial court and Court of Appeal.
- City of Banning v. Mary Ann Dureau et al. (2013) (United States District Court Case No. EDCV12- 0043 BRO). A property owner did not properly secure her property, the site of a former auto repair business, and a homeless man turned over several drums of waste oil on the property which ran into the street and storm drain system. The City was obligated to clean up the waste oil. The City then sued the property for the cost of clean-up pursuant to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). In a bench trial, the judge ruled the City was entitled to recover the reasonable cost of cleaning up the spill, over $ 575,000. The City defeated the property owner’s counterclaims for inverse condemnation, equitable indemnity, declaratory relief, and contribution.
- City of Carson v. City of La Mirada (2012) (Second District Court of Appeal Case No. B235315. The appellate court affirmed an earlier ruling obtained by our attorneys on behalf of the City of Carson enforcing a judgment against the City of La Mirada and La Mirada Redevelopment Agency. The judgment resulted from still earlier litigation arising out of La Mirada Redevelopment Agency’s 2000 agreement with Corporate Express providing financial assistance as an incentive for Corporate Express to abandon its facilities in the City of Carson and relocate to the City of La Mirada.
- Millan v. City of Carson (2010) (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. TC021439). In this personal injury case, a railroad worker was struck by a privately-owned truck that collided with a train at a railroad crossing and ricocheted, pinning the railroad work between the truck and the train, causing his death. The City was named as a defendant due to an alleged dangerous condition of public property. The case was tried to a jury and the City was held 20% liable. In light of the facts of the case and the damages awarded, this was considered a very favorable outcome for the City.
- Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency v. Adams, et al. (2010) (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC396930). This eminent domain action was filed to acquire a 4-acre site for a new police station. The challenges in this acquisition included badly fractionalized title due to the prior oil production history of the property, some 7,000 interests in a 4 acre parcel and a claim of adverse possession by a small group of property owners. Rather than risk the court’s ruling on the adverse possession claim, the group claiming title by adverse possession chose to settle and the remaining property owners’ interests were acquired by default judgment. The City obtained title to the site for a total cost of less than $1 million where the value, if the title were in a single owner, would have been substantially higher.
- Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency v. Bartlow, et al. (2010) (Various Los Angeles Superior Court Case Numbers). This group of eminent domain cases to acquire former oil field properties in the City of Signal Hill with significant contamination issues for redevelopment resulted in two jury trials. In one trial, our attorneys succeeded in having the testimony of an appraiser stricken, resulting in the case going to the jury on the basis of only one appraiser’s testimony. While the jury verdict was subject to being reduced due to the jury’s failure to follow certain jury instructions, the property owner chose to resolve the issue through settlement and waived the right to appeal. In the other jury trial, after considering all the evidence, the jury returned favorable verdicts. Overall, the City acquired some 25 acres at a price within of the condemnor’s appraiser’s testimony.
- Correa v. City of Inglewood, et al. (2008) (Second Appellate District Case No. B204205). Acting as litigation counsel for the City of Inglewood, our attorneys successfully defended the City against a fired employee terminated for “conduct unbecoming a police officer.” The plaintiff had claimed that, in the interrogation leading up to his termination, his rights under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act were violated. His claims were rejected at both the trial and appellate levels.
- United Rock v. City of Irwindale (2008) (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. KC051372). Mining company sued City to invalidate mining tax increase, to establish its vested rights, and for a declaration that the City’s actions violated a prior settlement agreement. Litigation did not proceed past the demurrer stage and City was able to proceed with its tax and regulatory actions.
- Carson Redevelopment Agency v. Padilla (2006) 140 Cal. App. 4th 1323. We litigated this matter to void a tainted contract under Government Code § 1090, the State conflict-of-interest statute, and obtained an award of $850,000 plus costs from a developer who paid $75,000 to obtain a contract. This litigation resulted in a seminal published opinion interpreting Government Code § 1090.
- Carson Coalition For Healthy Families v. City of Carson, et al. (2007) (L.A. Superior Court Case No. BS102076 and Second Appellate District Case No. B194923). Our CEQA litigators successfully defeated a 2009 challenge, before the trial court and appellate court, alleging the City’s project EIR failed to sufficiently analyze: (1) hazards and hazardous materials, (2) traffic, circulation and parking impacts, (3) air quality impacts, (4) noise impacts, and (5) alternatives to the Project.
- Wilshire Ventures Corp., et al. v. San Fernando Redevelopment Agency (2012) (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC410145 and Second Appellate District Case Nos. B230916, B232924). Our litigators defeated a $1.1 million claim against the San Fernando Redevelopment Agency by establishing that the redevelopment agency had not breached an exclusive negotiation agreement by failing to complete preparation of a draft EIR or by deciding not to extend the agreement to allow more time for the draft EIR to be completed. We also obtained a substantial award of attorneys’ fees.
- Illingworth v. City of Cypress (2003) (Fourth Appellate District Case No. G031280). The court reversed the trial court and held that the Anti-SLAPP statute was applicable to the free speech conduct of a Cypress employee. This decision resulted in Cypress being awarded nearly $60,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs in its favor. Plaintiff’s $2 million lawsuit against the City and its employee was also defeated in this litigation.
- Nicolopulos v. City of Lawndale (2001) 91 Cal. App. 4th 1221. The Court of Appeal upheld the City of Lawndale’s removal of its elected City Clerk against the petitioner’s procedural due process challenge and this published Court of Appeal decision is a precedent setting decision on quo warranto.
- Avalon Center Investment Company v. City of Carson (2006) (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BS 087688, Court of Appeal Case No. B183893). An appellate decision upholding City’s denial of a permit for continued use of an automotive fueling station against the claim that the City Council’s denial was based upon the improper motive of protecting existing competition and denial violated petitioner’s vested rights.
- Craig Teter v. City of Newport Beach (2003) 30 Cal. 4th 446. The California Supreme Court clarified that a person arrested for public intoxication is a prisoner for the purpose of Government Code Immunities and that there is no liability for damages sustained by a prisoner as a consequence of conditions that are common to all inmates and represent reasonable application of policy determinations by jail or prison authorities.
- Ehrlich v. Culver City (1996) 12 Cal. 4th 854. A seminal case in which the California Supreme Court upheld the authority of cities to impose public art programs and development conditions being challenged as unconstitutional.
- Vela v. Superior Court (1989) 208 Cal. App. 3d 141. A California appellate case that established the attorney-client privilege for police department shooting incident reports.
- County of Sacramento v. Florin Resources Conservation District. Our attorneys represented the Water District, where the County of Sacramento was challenging the District’s authority to issue bonds and certificates of participation in the amount of $25,000,000. We obtained a favorable ruling for the District in the very early stages of the proceeding, dismissing with prejudice thirteen of the County’s fourteen causes of action against the District, thereby enabling the District to proceed with the issuance of the bonds.