The following is our summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s conference on Wednesday, September 15, 2010. The summary includes those civil cases in which (1) review has been granted (not including grant-and-transfers), (2) review has been denied but one or more justices has voted for review, (3) the Court has ordered depublished an opinion of the Court of Appeal, or (4) the Court has denied a Court of Appeal’s publication request.

Review Granted

Service Employees Int’l Union, Local 1000 v. Schwarzenegger, S184629—Review Granted & Held—September 15, 2010

The issue is whether the governor has the authority to furlough state employees by executive order, the same issue that is before the court in California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment, et al. v. Schwarzenegger, et al., S182581. As we discussed in this post, the lead case was argued on September 8.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Beutz v. County of Riverside, S184226—Petition for Review Denied [Kennard, J. voting for review]—September 15, 2010

This was an action by a resident of newly formed special assessment district against the County of Riverside to void a property tax assessment to pay the annual ongoing costs of refurbishing and maintaining landscaping in four public parks. The plaintiff argued the assessment violated Proposition 218 and the California Constitution’s limits on local property taxes. The issue presented for review was whether the County of Riverside failed to separate the general benefits from the special benefits of the landscaping, and assess only for the special benefits that the landscaping would confer on assessed parcels.

The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Two, held in a published decision, Beutz v. County of Riverside (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 1516, that: (1) the county properly based the assessment on the larger public improvement project of which the landscaping costs were a part, namely, a master plan to acquire and develop the parks and park facilities, rather than on the landscape portion of the plan; but (2) the county failed to meet its constitutional burden of demonstrating that the assessment was proportional to, and did not exceed, the value of the special benefits that the use and enjoyment of the parks would confer on assessed parcels.

TWC Storage v. State Water Resources, S184399—Petition for Review Denied [Baxter, J. voting for review]—September 15, 2010

This was a landowner’s challenge to an administrative decision of a regional water quality control board imposing a fine of $25,000 for causing an accidental discharge of hazardous chemicals that infiltrated groundwater. The issue presented for review was whether there was sufficient evidence that the landowner caused or permitted the discharge in violation of the Water Code.

The Sixth District Court of Appeal held in a published decision, TWC Storage, LLC v. State Water Resources Control Bd. (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 291, that: (1) the regional board properly applied the relevant statutes when concluding the landowner caused or permitted the discharge, and (2) the landowner could be liable for the fine resulting from its four-day delay in reporting the discharge.

Koszdin v. State Compensation Insurance Fund, S185333—Petition for Review Denied [Kennard, J. voting for review]—September 15, 2010

The issues presented for review were: (1) whether attorneys who represented injured workers before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) had standing to pursue claims for unpaid interest on their fee awards; and (2) whether the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over the attorneys’ claims for interest since the WCAB’s fee awards did not provide for the payment of interest.

The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Seven, held in a published opinion, Koszdin v. State Compensation Ins. Fund (2010) 186 Cal.App.4th 480, that: (1) the attorneys had standing to pursue claims for unpaid interest; (2) the WCAB attorney fee awards accrued interest at the same rate as judgments in civil actions; but (3) the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to award interest without any express directive in the WCAB fee awards.

Full disclosure: Horvitz & Levy LLP represents the defendants in Koszdin.



Court of Appeal Publication Request Denied