July 2011

California Supreme Court Clarifies Requirements for CEQA Lawsuits in Upholding Environmental Review of Plastic Bag Bans

In Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach, the California Supreme Court clarified and, potentially, expanded the rights of corporations to bring CEQA lawsuits and sought to inject “common sense” into the CEQA process.

Challenge Filed Against Redevelopment Bills ABX1 26 and ABX1 27

The California Redevelopment Association (CRA) and the League of California Cities (LOCC) together with named Plaintiffs, the City of Union City and the City of San Jose, filed a petition on Wednesday, July 18 asking the California Supreme Court to overturn Assembly Bill X1 26 and Assembly Bill X1 27.  These bills would dissolve Redevelopment Agencies unless their sponsoring jurisdictions agree to make payments in support of local taxing entities. The petition alleges that the bills violate the California Constitution, including Propositions 1A and 22, it requests the Court to issue a stay on the implementation of the bills by August 15, and it requests a decision on the merits by December 20.

Subcontractor False Claims Suit Properly Dismissed Where Suit Based on Public Information

On July 22, 2011 the California Court of Appeal confirmed that a subcontractor could not bring an action against a general contractor alleging that the general contractor submitted a claim to a public entity in violation of the California False Claims Act (Government Code Section 12650 et seq.).  In the case, the subcontractor attempted to bring the suit in the name of the State of California as a so-called "qui tam" plaintiff, who can receive a substantial payout of litigation proceeds if the case is successful.  However, the subcontractor was out of luck

Hotly Contested Challenge to the Department of Fish and Game's Authority to Regulate Streamflow Diversions

In March 2011, the Department of Fish and Game was sued in Siskiyou County by the local farm bureau who claims the Department has improperly expanded its authority to regulate substantial diversions or obstructions of stream flow under Fish and Game Code Section 1602.  (Siskiyou County Farm Bureau v. California Department of Fish and Game, Case No. SCSCCVCV 11-00418.)  In 2005, coho salmon in the Klamath Basin were listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act ("CESA").  The Department has since interpreted its authority under Section 1602 and CESA to require all agricultural streambed diversions in the Klamath Basin to obtain the necessary permits or authorizations to comply with Section 1602.