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California Municipal Law Blog

Howell and Uninsured Plaintiffs

by on October 19, 2015

posted in Damages,

A new case came out from the 4th District Court of Appeal applying the Howell rule to uninsured plaintiffs. Bermudez v. Ciolex. The plaintiff in this case was an uninsured pedestrian.  His medical bills were $450,000, none of which were paid.  He requested $691,000-984,000 in future medical expenses. Defense counsel argued the necessity and reasonableness of past medical expenses and suggested that past medical expenses should be $135,000. He did not provide a number for future medicals. The special verdict form awarded $460,431 in past medicals and $425,000 in future medical expenses. The total ... Continue Reading

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tags: Bermudez v. Ciolex, Damages, Howell, medical bills, uninsured pedestrian,

State Supreme Court Expands Government Liability for Dangerous Condition of Public Property

by on August 17, 2015

posted in Damages, Public Works, Recent Court Decisions, Streets and Sidewalks,

A car driving along a road is sideswiped by another car, causing it to veer into a median and hit a tree.  Tragically, all but one of the car’s occupants is killed; the sole survivor is seriously injured.  Although the driver of the other car was clearly at fault, the city that maintained the tree is sued under the theory that the tree’s placement in the median was a “dangerous condition of public property.”  Can the city be held liable? Yes, says the State Supreme Court.  In Cordova v. City of Los Angeles, the Court held that local agencies may be liable for a dangerous condition of ... Continue Reading

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tags: automobile accident, causation, city trees, medians, negligence, Public Beautification Programs,

New Public Records Case Holds that Mistaken Release of Privileged Documents Does Not Waive Privilege

by on August 10, 2015

posted in Public Records Act, Recent Court Decisions,

When an agency mistakenly releases privileged documents in response to a Public Records Act (“PRA”) request, it does not waive the privilege it possesses in those documents.  So ruled the San Francisco-Based First District Court of Appeal on July 31, 2015 in Newark Unified School District v. Superior Court.  The court’s ruling contradicts the December 2014 holding of the Los-Angeles Based Second District Court of Appeal in Ardon v. City of Los Angeles.  That court held that once privileged documents are released, agencies effectively waive any privilege attached to them, and cannot demand ... Continue Reading

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tags: Ardon v. Los Angeles, Attorney-Client Privilege, California Supreme Court, Mistaken Disclosure, Newark Unified School District, Public Records Act,

Court Holds Mistaken Agenda Reference Does Not Prevent Holding of Closed Session

by on July 27, 2015

posted in Meetings, Recent Court Decisions,

What happens when a meeting agenda refers to the wrong legal authority for a closed-session item an agency considers?  If it’s clear to the public what action the agency may take, there is no Brown Act violation.  According to a recent court opinion, which dismissed a lawsuit as “hypertechnical,” a mistaken code reference used to describe a closed-session item does not prevent the agency from acting.  (Castaic Lake Water Agency v. Newhall County Water District, published July 22, 2015.)  ... Continue Reading

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tags: Agendas, Brown Act, Closed Sessions, Initiation of Litigation,

Court Clarifies Duties of Police, City Attorneys, District Attorneys for Pitchess Discovery Motions

by on July 20, 2015

posted in Law Enforcement, Pitchess Motions,

The California Supreme Court has resolved questions that have arisen among police departments, city attorneys and district attorneys about their obligations to respond to criminal discovery requirements under the landmark decisions of Brady v. Maryland and Pitchess v. Superior Court. The Brady case, generally, requires the prosecution to disclose material evidence that is favorable to the criminal defendant.  Pitchess holds that peace officers are entitled to a measure of privacy, and that their personnel records can only be examined and disclosed after the filing of a “Pitchess motion”.  ... Continue Reading

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tags: Brady v. Maryland, Criminal Discovery, District Attorney, Pitchess Motions, Pitchess v. Superior Court,

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