Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
City of Norwalk v. City of Cerritos
The City of Norwalk sued the City of Cerritos, alleging that Cerritos' ordinance limiting commercial and heavy truck traffic to certain major arteries caused extra truck traffic to be diverted through Norwalk, constituting a public nuisance. The City of Cerritos demurred, arguing that it was immune from liability as the ordinance was enacted under the express authority of the Vehicle Code sections 35701 and 21101. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend, and Norwalk appealed this decision. The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, affirmed the trial court's decision. The appellate court held that the public nuisance alleged by Norwalk, namely, the diversion of heavy truck traffic and its adverse effects, necessarily and inescapably flowed from the enactment of the Cerritos ordinance, which was expressly authorized by the Vehicle Code. As such, Cerritos was immune from liability for public nuisance under Civil Code section 3482. In addition, the court found no merit in Norwalk's arguments that the ordinance was unreasonable and that Cerritos failed to obtain the state's permission to regulate certain streets. View "City of Norwalk v. City of Cerritos" on Justia Law
City of Norwalk v. City of Cerritos
The case revolves around a dispute between two cities, Norwalk and Cerritos, both located in California. In 1974, Cerritos enacted an ordinance restricting commercial and heavy truck traffic to certain major arteries within the city. The ordinance was amended in 2019 and 2020, resulting in the removal of one of these arteries. Consequently, Norwalk sued Cerritos, arguing that the ordinance created a public nuisance by diverting extra truck traffic through Norwalk and thus causing various "adverse effects" linked to heavier traffic flow. Cerritos claimed immunity under Civil Code section 3482, which shields a city from public nuisance liability for actions "done or maintained under the express authority of a statute". The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District found that the Vehicle Code explicitly authorized cities to regulate the use of their streets by commercial or heavy vehicles. Therefore, the court held that Cerritos was immune from liability for the public nuisance of diverting traffic into Norwalk. The court stated that the immunity conferred by Civil Code section 3482 applied not only to the specific act expressly authorized by the statute, but also to the consequences that necessarily stemmed from that act. The court affirmed the judgment in favor of Cerritos. View "City of Norwalk v. City of Cerritos" on Justia Law
Gutierrez v. Tostado
In the Court of Appeal of the State of California Sixth Appellate District, Francisco Gutierrez appealed a judgment granting summary judgment to Uriel Tostado and ProTransport-1, LLC, in a personal injury case. Gutierrez was injured when his vehicle was hit by an ambulance driven by Tostado, an emergency medical technician employed by ProTransport-1, during a patient transport. Nearly two years after the accident, Gutierrez filed a complaint against Tostado and ProTransport-1. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that Gutierrez's claims were time-barred under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act's (MICRA) one-year statute of limitations for professional negligence. The trial court agreed and granted the motion, a decision Gutierrez appealed.In considering Gutierrez's appeal, the appellate court held that because Tostado was providing professional medical services at the time of the incident, MICRA's one-year statute of limitations applied, despite Gutierrez not being the recipient of those services. The court reasoned that the act of driving the ambulance was an integral part of the provision of medical care, and it was foreseeable that third parties could be injured during the provision of such care. The court rejected Gutierrez's argument that MICRA only applied where the defendant owed a professional duty to the plaintiff, holding instead that MICRA applied as long as the plaintiff was injured due to negligence in the rendering of professional services, and their injuries were foreseeable. The court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Gutierrez v. Tostado" on Justia Law
Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco
In a challenge to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s policy of towing safely and lawfully parked vehicles without a warrant based solely on the accrual of unpaid parking tickets, the Coalition argued that the warrantless tows are unreasonable seizures within the meaning of article I, section 13 of the California Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The trial court denied a motion for a writ of mandate and declaratory and injunctive relief.The court of appeal reversed. The challenged warrantless tows are not permissible under the vehicular community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. The defendants have not shown that legally parked cars with unpaid parking tickets that present no threat to “public safety and the efficient movement of vehicular traffic” may be towed under that exception. The court rejected an argument that the governmental interest in deterring parking violations and nonpayment of parking fines justifies warrantless tows under the vehicular community caretaking exception. The tows at issue may not be justified by analogy to warrantless property seizures in the forfeiture context. View "Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law
Visitacion Investment LLC v. 424 Jessie Historic Properties LLC
Part of Visitacion’s land in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley was formerly owned by Southern Pacific, which was, at the time of conveyance (1990), conducting railroad-related business on part of the property. The land subject to an easement is bounded by the right-of-way for mainline railroad tracks. At some point, railroad activities on the dominant tenement ceased. In 2015, the railroad sold the dominant tenement and an adjacent parcel (JHP property) and expressly conveyed to JHP its rights under the easement, although the deed contained no warranty regarding the continued existence of such rights. Visitacion, planning a large, mixed-use residential development and hoping to use the land that was encumbered by the easement, brought a quiet title action, alleging that the easement has been extinguished under the doctrine of abandonment. JHP denied abandonment and sought to establish its “full and complete legal and equitable ownership.”The court of appeal reversed the grant of summary judgment to JHP. Given the ambiguity of the easement deed and the uncertain state of the evidence bearing on its origination and use, the trial court erred in construing the deed in the context of these cross-motions for summary judgment. Visitacion’s evidence, if accepted, could establish abandonment. View "Visitacion Investment LLC v. 424 Jessie Historic Properties LLC" on Justia Law
Gregg v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
Plaintiff sued Uber under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), claiming Uber willfully misclassified him as an independent contractor rather than an employee, which led to numerous other Labor Code violations. In response, Uber moved to compel arbitration under the “Arbitration Provision” in the “Technology Services Agreement” (TSA).The trial court denied Uber's motion and the Second Appellate District affirmed. However, in June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the decision when it granted Uber's petition for certiorari in light of Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (2022) ___ U.S. ___ [142 S.Ct. 1906, 213 L.Ed.2d 179] (Viking River).Following this posture, the Second Appellate District held 1.) the TSA’s PAGA Waiver is invalid and must be severed from the Arbitration Provision; 2.) under the Arbitration Provision’s remaining terms, Plaintiff must resolve his claim for civil penalties based on Labor Code violations he allegedly suffered in arbitration, and his claims for penalties based on violations allegedly suffered by other current and former employees must be litigated in court; and 3.) under California law, Plaintiff is not stripped of standing to pursue his non-individual claims in court simply because his individual claim must be arbitrated. View "Gregg v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Ramirez v. Super. Ct.
Appellant California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) appealed from a judgment granting Plaintiff’s petition for writ of mandate (judgment). DMV contends the issues presented on appeal are whether the trial court erred in overturning the suspension of Plaintiff’s driver’s license (1) “by applying [former] Government Code section 11440.30. The Fifth Appellate District affirmed the “Judgment Granting Petition For Writ Of Mandate And Awarding Costs And Attorney Fees To Petitioner” and remanded the cause to the court below, with directions to modify the judgment to provide that the matter shall thereafter be remanded to the DMV for further proceedings. The court concluded that former Government Code section 11440.30 was applicable to Plaintiff’s DMV driver’s license suspension hearing. Said former statute is fully consistent with other relevant statutes, including, without limitation, Vehicle Code sections 14100 through 14112 and Government Code section 11501. Further, the court concluded that both CCR section 115.07 and former Government Code section 11440.30 were mandatory and not merely directory. Moreover, substantial evidence supports an implied finding that Plaintiff was prejudiced by DMV’s failure to adhere to former government code section 11440.30. View "Ramirez v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
Marin v. Department of Transportation
Decedent was employed by Jones as a construction worker. Jones was under contract with DOT to perform construction work on I-580 in Oakland. Much of this work was performed at night because it required lane closures. A car operated by a drunk driver entered the closed lanes of the project site and struck Decedent, who died on the scene. A wrongful death lawsuit against DOT asserted vicarious liability for the negligence of its employees; failure to discharge a mandatory duty; and dangerous condition on public property. The court dismissed the mandatory duty claim. DOT offered evidence that it did not instruct or control Jones as to how to comply with its safety obligations but that Jones complied with its safety plan on the night in question and that the contract between DOT and Jones delegated to Jones the responsibility for selecting the means for performing, including ensuring worker safety.The trial court concluded DOT was not liable for Decedent’s death as a matter of law because DOT delegated to Jones its duty to provide a safe work environment and the conduct of the drunk driver was not reasonably foreseeable. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting arguments that admissible evidence was wrongfully excluded. Plaintiffs failed to present evidence that DOT retained control over the construction site and actually exercised that control in such a way as to affirmatively contribute to Decedent's injuries, as required under California law. View "Marin v. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law
Evenskaas v. California Transit, Inc.
Plaintiff worked as a driver for California Transit. After California Transit terminated his employment, Evenskaas filed this wage and hour class action against California Transit; its owner, and the company that administered California Transit’s payroll, Personnel Staffing Group, LLC (collectively, the California Transit defendants). Because Plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement, in which he agreed to arbitrate all claims arising from his employment and waived his right to seek class-wide relief, the California Transit defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the motion. The California Transit defendants appealed, contending the FAA applies to the arbitration agreement. The Second Appellate District reversed the order denying Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration is reversed. The court directed the trial court to enter a new order granting the motion and dismissing Plaintiff’s class claims. The court explained that because the paratransit services California Transit hired Plaintiff to provide involve interstate commerce for purposes of the FAA, the FAA applies to the arbitration agreement and preempts the Gentry rule that certain class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements are unenforceable. View "Evenskaas v. California Transit, Inc." on Justia Law
SwiftAir v. Southwest Airlines
The plaintiff, SwiftAir, entered into an agreement with the defendant, Southwest Airlines (“Southwest”). Under the agreement, SwiftAir would develop software for Southwest. In turn, Southwest would test the software to determine whether to license it. When Southwest decided not to license the software, SwiftAir filed various breach of contract and fraud claims against Southwest.The trial court granted summary judgment in Southwest’s favor, finding that the Airline Deregulation Act (“ADA”) preempted all but one of SwiftAir’s claims. The remaining claim was presented to a jury, which found in Southwest’s favor.The Second Appellate District affirmed. For a claim to be preempted by the ADA, 1.) the claim must derive from state law, and (2) the claim must relate to airline rates, routes, or services, either by expressly referring to them or by having a significant economic effect upon them. Here, the subject of the contract was providing passengers with inflight entertainment and wireless internet access, which are considered “services” under the ADA. Thus, Southwest did not need to prove that SwiftAir’s claims would have a significant economic effect on Southwest’s services. View "SwiftAir v. Southwest Airlines" on Justia Law