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Tenants' Suit Against Landlord for Unruh Act Violation, Plus Criminal, Insurance, Property & Environmental Matters

By FindLaw Staff on October 07, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Tomlinson v. County of Alameda, A125471, concerned a challenge to the trial court's denial of plaintiffs' petition for a writ of administrative mandate on the ground that the proposed subdivision was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) under the categorical exemption for in-fill development, in plaintiffs' petition challenging the decision of a county to approve a subdivision development proposed by developers.


In reversing the judgment, the court remanded the case as, the project was not exempt from CEQA review as the county used the wrong legal standard in applying the exemption and substantial evidence does not show the proposed subdivision satisfied the exemption's criteria.  Further, the trial court's order must be vacated as plaintiffs have demonstrated a prejudicial abuse of discretion as, when a failure to comply with the law subverts the purposes of CEQA by omitting information from the environmental review process, the error is prejudicial.

Ramirez v. Wong, B217957, involved two female tenants' suit against their landlord, claiming that the resident manager of their apartment building entered their apartment in their absence, opened their dresser drawer and removed and sniffed their underwear in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act and other sections of the Civil Code that provide the right to be free from violence or intimidation by threat of violence based on sex and that prohibit sexual harassment.

In affirming the trial court's judgment sustaining the landlord's demurrer to the complaint in dismissing the case, the court held that the plaintiffs did not and cannot state a claim for violation of the Unruh Act as the resident manager's conduct may engender civil or criminal liability on any number of bases, but his conduct had nothing to do with the denial of equal accommodations or facilities on the basis of sex.  The court also held that the manager's conduct did not violate plaintiffs' right to be free from any violence, intimidation by threat of violence based on their sex or marital status under section 51.7.  Lastly, plaintiffs have not stated a cause of action for sexual harassment under section 51.9.

People v. Aranda, D055701, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for voluntary manslaughter and for actively participating in a criminal street gang.  In affirming, the court held that, as to the voluntary manslaughter count, there were adequate jury instructions contained within the original instructions for murder, and lesser included manslaughter, and the trial court's instructional error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  However, the court vacated and remanded as to count 3, as there was no cure for the trial court's error included in the "active participation in a street gang" jury instructions, and this error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Lastly, the trial court correctly denied defendant's motion to grant use immunity to a defense witness.

MacKay v. Superior Court, B223772, concerned a class action suit against 21st Century Insurance Company (21st Century), challenging two of its rating practices as violative of the Insurance Code.  In denying the petition for writ of mandate filed by the plaintiffs and granting the petition for writ of mandate filed by 21st Century, the court held that the statutory provisions for an administrative process (and judicial review thereof) are the exclusive means of challenging an approved rate.  Further, 21st Century is entitled to summary judgment as there is no triable issue of fact as to the issue of the approval of the rates at issue in this case.

In re J.G., G042533, concerned a challenge to the trial court's denial of a defendant's motion to suppress, in a conviction for possessing a deadly weapon with the intent to assault.  In affirming, the court held that, although the court does not hold that  defendant in fact intended to assault another human being, it was reasonable for the police to so suspect, and under the circumstances of this case, the officers acted reasonably and the arrest was supported by probable cause.

Holmes v. Summer, G041906, involved homebuyers' suit against the seller's brokers, claiming that the brokers were under an obligation to disclose to the buyers that the property was overencumbered and cannot in fact be sold to them at the agreed upon purchase price.  In reversing the trial court's judgment sustaining the brokers' demurrer to the complaint, the court held that, under the facts of this case, the brokers were obligated to disclose to the buyers that there was a substantial risk that the seller could not transfer title free and clear of monetary liens and encumbrances.

Arrowood Indem. Co. v.Travelers Indem. Co. of Connecticut, B219491, involved an insurer's suit against another insurer for equitable contribution involving a negligence suit against a general contractor, and a dispute over the relevant policy period.  In reversing the judgment of the trial court, the court remanded the case as, in an action for equitable contribution brought by an insurer who has defended and indemnified an insured against a coinsurer who has not defended or has not indemnified the insured, the participating insurer has met its burden of proof when it makes a prima facie showing of coverage under the nonparticipating insurer's policy, the burden of proof then shifts to the nonparticipating insurer to prove the absence of coverage, which the defendant-insurer has failed to do in this case.

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