Significant Pending Cases

Horvitz & Levy LLP is regularly involved in a variety of appeals involving major judgments and/or important public policy issues.

  • City of San Diego v. Board of Trustees of the California State University (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 1134, review granted April 19, 2012, S199557.

    In this case, the California Supreme Court will decide whether a state university fulfills its obligations under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code, §§ 21000 et seq.) (CEQA) to mitigate identified significant off-campus environmental impacts when feasible by requesting mitigation funds from the Legislature, or whether the university must also address in its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) the availability of potential sources of funding other than appropriations from the Legislature and provide compelling reasons why those sources cannot be used to pay for mitigation in the event the Legislature denies the requested appropriation. 

    As part of a legislative directive to expand statewide university enrollment to accommodate surging demand for affordable higher education, California State University approved a master plan to expand the enrollment capacity of San Diego State University. In the plan’s EIR, CSU determined that the expansion would contribute to traffic congestion on roads near the SDSU campus. Relying on City of Marina v. Board of Trustees of the California State University (2006) 39 Cal.4th 341, 367, CSU determined that the appropriate mitigation of this impact would be to ask the Legislature for funds to pay CSU’s fair-share contribution towards local traffic infrastructure improvements. CSU also determined that in the event the Legislature refused to appropriate those funds, the mitigations would be infeasible, but that the expansion should proceed because the project’s benefits would outweigh the traffic impacts. 

    The City of San Diego and other local agencies petitioned for writ relief in superior court, claiming that CEQA requires CSU to explore potential alternative funding sources in the event the event the Legislature denies CSU’s appropriation request. The court denied the petition but the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that CSU must demonstrate compelling reasons why it would be infeasible as a matter of law to use CSU’s other educational revenue sources to pay for the traffic infrastructure upgrades. 

    CSU retained Horvitz & Levy LLP to seek review by the California Supreme Court, and to handle further proceedings in the Supreme Court once the court granted review. If you would like further information about this case, please contact Jeremy B. Rosen, Bradley S. Pauley, or Mark A. Kressel.
  • Zhang v. Superior Court (2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 1081, review granted Feb. 10, 2010, S178542.

    In this case, the California Supreme Court will decide whether an insured may maintain a cause of action against its insurer under the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200) (UCL) based on allegations that the insurer misrepresents and falsely advertises that it will promptly and properly pay covered claims. The court will also consider whether Moradi-Shalal v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Companies (1988) 46 Cal.3d 287 bars such a cause of action. 

    The insured brought an action against her insurer for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith, and violation of the UCL based on the insurer’s handling of a claim arising from a fire at the insured’s commercial premises. The superior court sustained the insurer’s demurrer to the UCL claim without leave to amend. The insured filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging the ruling on demurrer. The Court of Appeal granted the petition and directed the superior court to reinstate the UCL claim. The Court of Appeal reasoned that because the insured’s complaint alleged fraudulent misrepresentations and misleading advertising concerning the insurer’s intention to pay covered claims, conduct that is proscribed by both the Unfair Insurance Practices Act (Ins. Code, § 790.03) and the UCL, Moradi-Shalal did not bar the insured from maintaining the claim. 

    Real Party in Interest California Capital Insurance Co. retained Horvitz & Levy LLP to consult on its petition for review and then to prepare the briefs on the merits in the Supreme Court. If you would like further information about this case, please contact Horvitz & Levy partners Peter Abrahams or Mitchell C. Tilner.