Legal News Center

Case Summaries

Family Law

[05/19] In re Marriage of Minkin
In an dispute between two former spouses involving the meaning of 'annual bonus' as in a spousal support stipulation, arising after former husband switched jobs and his compensation package changed from simply a salary and potential annual bonus to a package that included several different components, the trial court's judgment is affirmed where an annual bonus is a discretionary payment based upon performance, and not, as former wife argued, all payments above base salary.

[05/18] Marr. of Stupp and Schilders
In a former wife's challenge to family court orders giving former husband temporary sole legal custody of the parties' child, requiring that only the parents transport the child to his therapy appointments, continuing a custody trial, requiring former wife to undergo a vocational evaluation, and reserving jurisdiction over the allocation of the cost of the evaluation, the orders are: 1) reversed as to the order of vocational evaluation where the family court abused its discretion because there was no support motion pending; and 2) dismissed as to the appeal to the remaining orders where they are not appealable.

[05/16] Marriage of Grissom
In an action seeking a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO), as part of a marital dissolution proceeding, the trial court's denial of the DVRO is affirmed where it did not err in d in concluding that, because her injuries were suffered during and as a result of physical confrontations she instigated, they did not constitute 'abuse' within the meaning of Family Code section 6203, part of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, section 6200 et seq.

[05/15] Howell v. Howell
In a case in which a case a State treated as community property and awarded to a veteran's spouse upon divorce a portion of the veteran's total retirement pay, and long after the divorce, the veteran waived a share of the retirement pay in order to receive nontaxable disability benefits from the Federal Government instead, the Supreme Court of Arizona's judgment is reversed where a state court may not order a veteran to indemnify a divorced spouse for the loss in the divorced spouse's portion of the veteran's retirement pay caused by the veteran's waiver of retirement pay to receive service-related disability benefits.

[05/04] In re Priscilla A.
In a juvenile dependency case, in which a Father challenges the juvenile court's jurisdiction and disposition orders. the juvenile court's jurisdiction and disposition orders are reversed where because Daughter was not abused, neglected, or exploited and Father neither did nor failed to do anything to put Daughter at any risk of harm, dependency jurisdiction was not proper here.

[04/19] Gabrielle A. v. Co. of Orange
In an action brought by parent's challenging the detention of their children for six months, specifically, the two months they were detained in Orange County before the case was transferred to Los Angeles, the trial court's grant of summary judgment to social worker-defendants is affirmed where: 1) the parents' knowing and voluntary pleas of no contest to the jurisdictional allegations during dependency proceedings defeats their claims; 2) the social workers are entitled to immunity; and 3) met their burden to establish they were entitled to summary judgment on each cause of action, and plaintiffs failed to raise triable issues of material fact.

[04/17] In re Marriage of Huntley
In a wife's challenge of the trial court's denial of her motion to divide unadjudicated community property under Family Code section 2556, the judgment is reversed where: 1) section 2556 provided the trial court with continuing jurisdiction to divide omitted or unadjudicated community property; 2) the default judgment's silence as to any division of property requires reversal and remand for further proceedings under sections 2550 and 2556.

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Environmental Law

[05/25] Leider v. Lewis
In a taxpayer action seeking injunctive and declaratory under Code of Civil Procedure section 526a alleging claims of elephant abuse at the Los Angeles Zoo in violation of Penal Code section 596.5, the Court of Appeals' judgment is reversed where: 1) the Court of Appeal's earlier decision did not establish law of the case, and did not bar defendants' new argument that the claim for equitable relief is precluded by Civil Code section 3369; and 2) the 'as otherwise provided by law' exception in section 3369 does not permit equitable relief in a taxpayer action seeking to restrain 'illegal' public expenditures under Code of Civil Procedure section 526a.

[05/23] Southeast Alaska Conservation Counsel v. US Forest Serv.
In an action alleging that the U.S. Forest Service violated the National Forest Management Act by approving either the Big Thorne logging project or the 2008 Tongass Forest Plan under which Big Thorne was authorized, the district court's summary judgment in favor of the U.S. is affirmed where: 1) the Plan's provision pertaining to sustainability was discretionary; 2) because the Forest Service was only obligated to consider sustainability 'where possible,' there was no law to apply in second-guessing the agency; 3) there is no authority compelling the agency to set a specific standard or benchmark for protecting the viability of a species that was neither endangered nor threatened; and 4) the Big Thorne Project was consistent with the Forest Plan.

[05/18] Defenders of Wildlife v. Zinke
In an action brought by the Defenders of Wildlife concerning the possible impacts of the Silver State South solar project on the desert tortoise, the district court's summary judgment in favor of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and other federal officials is affirmed where: 1) the Biological Opinion's determination that Silver State South would not result in jeopardy to the desert tortoise did not impermissibly rely upon unspecified remedial measures; and 2) the Biological Opinion's determination that Silver State South was 'not likely to adversely affect the critical habitat of the desert tortoise,' which permitted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to forego an adverse modification analysis, was neither arbitrary nor capricious; 3) the Biological Opinion's failure to address the Fish and Wildlife Service's comments to a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was not arbitrary or capricious because the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and the Biological Opinion evaluated substantially different plans; and 4) because the Biological Opinion was neither legally nor factually flawed, the Bureau of Land Management permissibly relied upon the Biological Opinion in approving of the right-of-way for Silver State South.

[05/17] Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Bradford
In an action under federal environmental laws seeking to enjoin the U.S. Forest Service from constructing 4.7 miles of new roads in connection with a Forest Service project in the Kootenai National Forest, the district court's judgment in favor of federal officials and agencies is affirmed where: 1) the roads at issue would not violate the Kootenai National Forest Plan because they would be blocked to prevent motorized access upon completion of the Pilgrim Creek Timber Sale Project; and 2) it was not arbitrary and capricious for the Forest Service to conclude that roads closed to motorized access by berms or barriers do not count toward 'linear miles of total roads' under Standard II(B) of the Access Amendments; and 3) because the Forest Service's interpretation of its own Forest Plan was reasonable, Alliance for the Wild Rockies could not prevail on its National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Environmental Policy Act claims.

[05/05] Friends of College of San Mateo v. San Mateo Com. College
In a case brought under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Pub. Resources Code section 21000 et seq., on remand from the California Supreme Court, the previous judgment is affirmed where: 1) the San Mateo County Community College District's response to changes in a campus renovation project by issuing an addendum to a mitigated negative declaration, amounted to a modified project, meaning CEQA's subsequent review provisions apply; and 2) defendants' use of an addendum violated these provisions because there is substantial evidence to support a fair argument that the project changes might have a significant effect on the environment.

[04/28] Wildwest Inst. v. Kurth
In a suit brought by environmental groups under the Endangered Species Act, challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Secretary of the Department of the Interior (FWS)'s finding that listing the whitebark pine as a threatened or endangered species is 'warranted but precluded', the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Government is affirmed where: 1) because the case was capable of repetition, yet evading review, the case was not moot; and 2) FWS's finding that listing the whitebark pine was 'warranted but precluded' satisfied the Endangered Species Act, and the decision was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise in violation of the law.

[04/21] Sierra Club v. Co. of Sonoma
In a challenge to a county's issuance of an erosion-control permit, under the county's Grading, Drainage, and Vineyard and Orchard Site Development Ordinance to allow a vineyard on grazing land, is affirmed over asserted violations of the California Environmental Quality Act, Public Resources Code section 21000 (CEQA), where, although the ordinance may allow the Commissioner to exercise discretion when issuing erosion-control permits in some circumstances, plaintiffs failed to show that the Commissioner improperly determined that issuing the permit was ministerial and was therefore exempt from CEQA.

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[04/26] Snyder v. Dep't of the Navy
In an appeal of the Final Decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board affirming the decision of the Department of the Navy to furlough petitioner for six days between July and September of 2013 as a result of the federal government sequestration of 2013, the Board's decision is affirmed where there is no reversible error.

[04/26] Monk v. Shulkin
In a Vietnam veteran's appeal concerning whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has authority to certify a class for class action or for similar aggregate resolution procedures, the Veterans Court denial of a motion to certify a class of thousands of veterans alleging service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, hypertension, and strokes, on grounds that it lacks authority to certify classes of claims, or to adjudicate disability claims on an aggregate basis, is reversed where the Veterans Court has the authority to certify a class for a class action and to maintain similar aggregate resolution procedures.

[04/10] S.H. v. US
In an action brought by a military family under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) against the United States, alleging that plaintiff's child's birth injuries resulted from the negligent approval of plaintiff's command-sponsored travel overseas, the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs is vacated where: 1) plaintiff's claims arose in Spain and therefore were barred by the FTCA's foreign country exception; and thus 2) the claims must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

[02/06] Beck v. McDonald
In consolidated appeals brought by veterans who received medical treatment and health care at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dorn VAMC) against the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Dorn VAMC officials, alleging violations of the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. section 552a et seq., and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. section 701 et seq., after two data breaches at the Center compromised their personal information, the district court's dismissal of the actions for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is affirmed where Plaintiffs failed to establish a non-speculative, imminent injury-in-fact for purposes of Article III standing.

[01/30] Williams v. Snyder
In a veteran's benefits case, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) judgment affirming a decision by the Board of Veterans' Appeals that denied plaintiff's claim for service connected disability benefits is affirmed where CAVC did not err as a matter of law in determining that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) presented the clear and unmistakable evidence necessary to overcome the presumption of soundness.

[01/25] Kays v. Snyder
In a veteran's appeal for disability compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder, United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims' denial of benefits is affirmed where the Veterans Court: 1) applied the correct standard of review; and 2) correctly determined that the regulations require credible supporting evidence that the claimed in-service stressor occurred to the veteran.

[01/17] Kennedy v. US
In a suit brought by a plaintiff who was disenrolled from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program at George Washington University after he failed to complete the required course at the Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, VA, the Court of Federal Claims' decision that the disenrollment was lawful is reversed and remanded where, given the concession by the government that plaintiff?s due process rights had been violated when he was dissuaded from attending his PRB, and its concession that the error was not harmless, it is clear that the Court of Federal Claims erred in concluding that plaintiff's disenrollment was inevitable because Quantico deemed him unfit to return.

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