Real Property Law

Real Property Case Summary Updates

November 2019

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Monty McIntyre

By Monty McIntyre

California Case Summaries™ (https://californiacasesummaries.mykajabi.com)
Monty A. McIntyre, Esq. is the publisher of California Case Summaries™. Monty hasbeen a California civil trial lawyer since 1980, a member of ABOTA since 1995, and currently works as a full-time mediator, arbitrator and referee with ADR Services, Inc. (ADR) in ADR’s offices in San Diego, Irvine, and Los Angeles. California Case Summaries™provides short summaries, organized by legal topic, of every new published civil and family law case so California lawyers can easily and affordably keep up with the new case law in their practice areas. Monthly, quarterly and annual subscriptions are available.  

Landlord – Tenant

Garcia v. Myllyla (2019)_ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 4894132: The Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment against defendants, following a jury trial, awarding nine former tenants economic damages in the form of rent abatement to each plaintiff ranging from $0 to $7,000, noneconomic damages for each plaintiff of either $10,000 or $15,000, and punitive damages for each plaintiff of $95,000. Plaintiffs alleged numerous claims including breach of the implied warranty of habitability. Although the building was a duplex, defendants illegally rented it as 12 separate units. Only two units had kitchens and there were only two community rest rooms. There were numerous problems with the building, including openings that permitted rodents and vermin to enter, steps with dry rot that were close to collapsing, illegal electrical work, and dead and live cockroaches throughout the building and dirty bathrooms. The punitive damages award was proper because defendant Reijo Myllyla failed to comply with notices to attend trial and produce documents regarding his net worth. He therefore forfeited any argument that plaintiffs had failed to introduce evidence of his net worth. There was substantial evidence supporting both the punitive damage awards and the noneconomic damage awards. (C.A. 2nd, October 4, 2019.)

REAL PROPERTY

MTC Financial Inc. v. Cal. Dept. of Tax and Fee Admin. (2019)_ Cal.App.5th _:  The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment to void a first in time trust deed due to an insufficient legal description of the real property.  The trust deed’s legal description of the property contained multiple points of inaccuracy or ambiguity.  The appellant argued that the parcel number of the property and the trustor names and address sufficiently described the property.  The Court of Appeal noted that the trustor names and address are irrelevant in describing the property, and the parcel number may theoretically be sufficient, but by itself does not necessarily demonstrate the actual location of a property.  The trial court properly voided the trust deed. (C.A. 4th, October 31, 2019.)

Denham, LLC v. City of Richmond (2019)_ Cal.App.5th _: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s writ of mandate to the City of Richmond (City) to vacate its adoption of an initiative that was inconsistent with the general plan, and ordered the trial court to issue a new writ to the City to cure the inconsistency in the general plan.  Appellants correctly argued that the California Government Code, § 65754, required the city to cure the inconsistency of the general plan caused by the initiative rather than vacate the initiative.  The trial court erred in ordering the City to vacate the initiative. (C.A. 1st, October 25, 2019.)

Greene v. California Coastal Commission (2019)_ Cal.App.5th _: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of appellant’s petition for writ of administrative mandate.  Appellants were seeking to invalidate a permit condition that required a five-foot setback on their beachfront property.  The Court of Appeal agreed with the respondent that the 1.5 feet setback proposed by the appellants would deceive the public into thinking that the public area was private, and routine maintenance on the property would result in intrusion onto public property.  The trial court properly denied the petition.  (C.A. 2nd, October 9, 2019.) 

Myles v. Pennymac Loan Services (2019)_ Cal.App.5th _ , 2019 WL 4941721: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining a demurrer, without leave to amend, to plaintiff’s complaint alleging wrongful foreclosure. Plaintiff’s complaint did not explain how the assignments of his mortgage were void as a matter of law. Moreover, the Court of Appeal rejected plaintiff’s argument suggesting that a borrower, by refusing to pay, could prevent a lender from assigning the debt. (C.A. 2nd, October 8, 2019.)

ENVIRONMENT

Atlantic Richfield v. Central Valley Regional Water Quality etc. (2019)_ Cal.App.5th _: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s granting of plaintiff’s petition to overturn an order that imposed liability for pollution from a mine that was owned by a subsidiary of plaintiff’s predecessors in interest,  and remanded the matter for reconsideration under a proper legal standard.  The Court of Appeal determined that the trial court employed too restrictive a standard in evaluating the evidence.  The trial court erroneously focused on the predecessors’ control over the disposal of toxic waste, rather than the predecessors’ control over the general operations of the facility that generated the toxic waste. (C.A. 3rd, filed September 13, 2019, published October 15, 2019.)

Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma etc. (2019)_ Cal.App.5th _: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling in an action that challenged the decision of the County of Sonoma and its Board of Supervisors to allow the construction and operation of a winery.  The appellants contend that the County should have prepared an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA; Public Resources Code, section 21000 et seq.).  The County determined that the winery project, with recommended mitigation, would not have a significant enough effect on the environment to require an EIR.  The trial court properly denied appellant’s challenge to the County’s decision to approve the winery project. (C.A. 1st, filed September 6, 2019, published October 7, 2019.)

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