Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley

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The Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal held that arbitration clauses are unenforceable in continuing care retirement community tenancy agreements. Harris and four other residents (“Harris”) live in the University Village Thousand Oaks (UVTO) continuing care and retirement community. Residents of UVTO must sign a contract before moving in. Pursuant to the contract, residents pay various monthly fees for a residence, care, and services. The contracts include the right to live in a specified living unit. The monthly fee is based upon the type of unit. Additionally, UVTO contracts require tenants to agree to binding arbitration to…
Damage claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – and really any personal injury claims — are broken down into two categories: economic and noneconomic damages. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium are commonly sought in large numbers as noneconomic damages to enhance a plaintiff’s out-of-pocket damages. Prior to 1986, a plaintiff could recover all of her economic and noneconomic damages from one party, even if she pursued multiple defendants. Proposition 51 — the California Fair Responsibility Act — changed that. Codified at Civil Code 1431.2, it imposes several liability for noneconomic damages, while still allowing joint liability…
The First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal held that local rent control laws can apply to individual rooms rented in a single-family home. Jonathan Owens owns a single-family home in Oakland. He rents out three of the bedrooms in this home to separate tenants on a month-to-month basis, terminable upon 60 days’ notice. Each tenant has their own private room, and the common areas of the house are shared between the tenants and Owens. One of the tenants filed a petition with the Oakland Residential Rent and Relocation Board alleging that her housing became uninhabitable due to…
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the City of Pomona for improperly training its police officers on the new legal standard for justifiable use of deadly force enacted by 2019’s Assembly Bill 392. AB 392, which was sponsored by the ACLU, changed the standard for use of deadly force in California, now codified in Penal Code section 835a. According to the ACLU’s complaint, Pomona, relying on advice from Lexipol and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, incorrectly instructed its officers that AB 392 did not meaningfully change the use of deadly force standard. Lexipol…
In Pimentel v. City of Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit found the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause applies to Los Angeles’ parking fines. Following Timbs v. Indiana, a recent SCOTUS decision that applied the excessive fine clause against the states, Pimentel extends the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive fines to routine municipal fines. The Court upheld a decision that a $63 parking fine was not grossly disproportionate to the offense of parking too long. Pimentel leaves open the possibility that a person could plead financial hardship on a case-by-case basis. In a concurring opinion, Judge Bennet argues the…
Ben Franklin famously said: “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” Today’s Supreme Court decision in Wilde v. Dunsmuir is an important win for public utilities and local governments promising stability in local finance. [Disclosure: I argued the case for five local government associations.] Specifically, it holds that water rates are not subject to referendum and, on the logic of the case, neither are other utility fees. The decision is narrow, but significant. It holds that the referendum power created by article II, section 9 of California’s Constitution does not extend to “statutes providing for…
The California Supreme Court handed a major victory to former Governor Jerry Brown and California’s governments in a pension reform case today. [Disclosure: I wrote an amicus curiae brief for the League of California Cities in the case.] This case challenged the 2013 pension reforms, the “California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013” known as “PEPRA.” The plaintiff unions argued the “California Rule” forbade the Legislature to amend the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (“CERL” or “the 1937 Act”)  to reduce pension benefits without providing an offsetting benefit. Jerry Brown and the California Business Roundtable