Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - March 25, 2015

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Woody's Group, Inc. v. City of Newport Beach (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 1012.   This case involves a permit application dispute.  The planning commission had voted to approve a conditional use permit applied for by plaintiff and four days later a city council member filed an appeal of the planning commission approval to the city council.  The city council then voted to reverse the planning commission decision.  Plaintiff sought administrative mandate to overturn the city council resolution and the city sought and obtained a preliminary injunction prohibiting the plaintiff from engaging in the activity for which the permit had been sought.  The court of appeal vacated the preliminary injunction and granted the writ of mandate.  The court noted that there was an unacceptable probability of actual bias on the city council member's part who had filed the notice of appeal of the planning commission's decision which gave the appearance that the city was creating its own procedure by allowing the city council member to file the appeal, and required the reversal of the trial court's opinion.  The court noted two basic principles.  The first was that you cannot be a judge in your own case.  The second was that you can't change the rules in the middle of the game.  The administrative writ of mandate restoring the original planning commission grant of plaintiff's application was ordered.

Baral v. Schmitt (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 1423.   This is a SLAPP case.  The SLAPP motion was denied concerning a complaint alleging breach of fiduciary duty and other causes of action arising from a business dispute.  The court found that causes of action were mixed as to the allegations of protected activity unrelated to an audit and there was a sufficient showing of the probability by plaintiff that he would prevail in order to defeat the SLAPP motion.  The court also noted the SLAPP motion could not be used to strike non-meritorious allegations of a protected activity within an entire cause of action.

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