Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - February 8, 2016

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HPT IHG-2 Properties Trust v. City of Anaheim (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 188.  This is an interesting estoppel case asserted against a municipality in a development context.  Essentially, a developer was developing two hotels within the Disneyland resort area and the development of the hotel was conditioned upon certain promises that had been made by the City of Anaheim with respect to providing parking, setbacks and landscaping that would be required in connection with the City's planned construction of an overpass on a portion of the property.  The facts are extensive and indicate that the developer made plans based upon the City's promises and assurances to him.

After the developer had initiated his construction, the City decided to provide a different parking configuration, which was significantly less than what had been originally promised to the developer.

The court held that this was an appropriate case for the application of equitable estoppel to a governmental entity estopping the City from changing the ultimate site plan which had been approved in the initial conditional use permit.  The court relies on the fact that the developers had spent $40,000,000 to develop the project and were induced to do so based on the defendant's promises to them regarding parking and having resort development standards in the area where the hotels were being constructed.

Caldecott v. Superior Court (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 212.  This case involved a Public Records Act request made by a former executive director of human resources in a school district who sought production of documents relating to a complaint by that individual against the District's superintendent.  The court held that the District was required to comply with the Public Records Act request in that there was a strong public interest in judging how the superintendent had responded to earlier claims made by the former executive director of human resources, particularly in light of the superintendent's decision to almost immediately terminate that director without cause.  There was also a public interest in assessing how the elected school board had treated the misconduct allegations which had been made against the highest ranking school administrator, the superintendent.  This public interest in disclosure outweighed the privacy interest of the superintendent.

Lanz v. Goldstone (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 441.  This is a SLAPP matter.  An attorney brought a malicious prosecution suit against another attorney and the defendant filed a SLAPP motion.  The court denied the SLAPP, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal, finding that the plaintiff had demonstrated a probability of success on the malicious prosecution claim on all three of its required elements.

M'Guinness v. Johnson (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 602.  An attorney represented a corporation, and also a shareholder of that corporation, in a shareholder action which was brought for breach of fiduciary duty by another shareholder.  Both the shareholder and the corporation were named in the fiduciary duty litigation.

The court held that the law firm representing the corporation and the shareholder should have been disqualified.  The facts demonstrated that the law firm continued to represent the corporation throughout the time the lawsuit was pending and after it had been instituted and the representation agreement described an open-ended engagement which had not been terminated.  Because the court found that the law firm continued to represent the corporation, it could also not represent the individual shareholder in the lawsuit.

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