Decisions in Criminal, Environmental, Insurance, and Corporate Matters - California Case Law
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Decisions in Criminal, Environmental, Insurance, and Corporate Matters

In Wolf v. CDS Devco, No. D055034, the Fourth District faced a challenge to the trial court's judgment sustaining defendants' demurrers without leave to amend in plaintiff's suit seeking enforcement of the "absolute" rights of a director to inspect corporate books.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by determining that plaintiff, as a former director, had no statutory standing as a director to pursue his demands for inspection of the company records, and he had not presented any sufficient basis to create any exceptions to the rule. 

San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition v. City of San Diego, No. D055699, concerned a nonprofit organization's petition for writ of mandate claiming that defendant-city violated CEQA in determining that no further environmental review of a project was required.  In holding that the trial court did not err in denying the plaintiff's amended petition, the court concluded that the city was not required to prepare a subsequent or supplemental EIR regarding the potential impact of a redevelopment project called the Navy Broadway Complex Project on global climate change because the city did not grant a discretionary approval that would provide it with the authority to address the project's impact on this environmental issue.     

In People v. Datt, No. H033079, the Sixth District faced a challenge to a conviction and sentence of defendant for reckless evading, being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting an officer, and other crimes.  In affirming the conviction and the sentence, the court held that the trial court's instruction regarding the lack of need for unanimity was not erroneous.  Further, the defendant has not shown that his trial counsel was deficient in failing to present expert eyewitness identification testimony.     

Hervey v. Mercury Cas. Co., No. B215470, concerned a plaintiff's suit against her automobile insurance carrier, alleging that the insurer breached the policy by offsetting uninsured motorist payments due her for injuries suffered in an automobile accident with the amount the insurer paid plaintiff under the medical expense coverage in the same policy for the same accident.  In affirming the trial court's judgment, the court held that the trial court properly sustained without leave to amend the insurer's demurrer to plaintiff's class action complaint because the policy was not reasonably susceptible to plaintiff's interpretation of it.     

Kern County Water Agency v. Watershed Enforcers, No. A117715, concerned a challenge to the  judgment of the trial court granting a peremptory writ of mandate in a nonprofit organization's petition for writ of mandate to compel the California Department of Water Resources to stop taking endangered or threatened species of fish without permit authority under the California Endangered Species Act.  In affirming the grant of peremptory writ, the court held that the a state agency is a "person" within the meaning of section 2080, which prohibits any "person" from taking an endangered or threatened species without appropriate permit authority from the California Department of Fish and Game.   

In Minkler v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am., No. S174016, the California Supreme Court dealt with a dispute over a homeowner's insurance coverage, arising from plaintiff's suit against a mother and her son for being sexually molested by the son in their home.  The court ruled that an exclusion of coverage for the intentional acts of "an insured," read in conjunction with a severability or "separate insurance" clause like the one at issue in this case, creates an ambiguity which must be construed in favor of coverage that a lay policyholder would reasonably expect.

Here, a lay insured would reasonably anticipate that under a policy containing such a clause, each insured's coverage would be analyzed separately, so that the intentional act of one insured would not, in and of itself, bar liability coverage of another insured for the latter's independent act that did not come within the terms of the exclusion.  Therefore, the homeowner was not precluded form coverage for any personal role she played in her son's molestations of plaintiff merely because the son's conduct fell within the exclusion for intentional acts. 

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