Land Use and Environmental Cases

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Litigation, United States District Court, District of Alaska, 1989-1993 (with Milberg Weiss)

As co-chair of plaintiffs' Law Committee, handled extensive law and motion work regarding substantive legal issues and discovery issues; also engaged in extensive document review.

Save Our Forests and Ranchlands v. County of San Diego, San Diego Superior Court, 1992 (with Milberg Weiss)

CEQA challenge to general plan amendment rezoning inholdings within Cleveland National Forest. After discovery and bench trial including fact and expert witness testimony, Court held County engaged in illegal plan to plan analysis and issued writ of mandate.

Citizens Against the Jackson Drive Extension v. City of San Diego, San Diego Superior Court, 1992 (with Milberg Weiss)

CEQA challenge to adequacy of EIR analysis of impacts of 4-lane roadway through largest urban park in Western US, at projected cost of $80-100 million. Did not reach writ hearing because injunction issued in superceding case based on different theory.

Citizens Against the Jackson Drive Extension v. City of San Diego (Jackson Drive II), San Diego Superior Court, 1992 (with Milberg Weiss)

Injunction granted under C.C.P. Section 526a for illegal waste of taxpayer funds. While traditional CEQA action was pending, counsel lobbied US Corps of Engineers and Federal Highway Administration regarding alternatives to highway project. As a result, agencies indicated that federal permits would not be forthcoming because reasonable alternatives existed to encroachment of navigable waterway. Court issued injunction finding further expenditures of taxpayer funds on project would constitute illegal waste of funds given futility of federal permitting.

Earth Island Institute v. Southern California Edison, United States District Court for the Southern District of California, 1993 (with Milberg Weiss)

Clean Water Act suit seeking damages and injunctive relief for environmental harm from San Onofre Nuclear Station (San Clemente, California) due to 1) intake and destruction of huge amounts of fish into coolant intake valves and 2) discharges of concentrated water from coolant pipes obscuring sunlight and impairing kelp and fish. Following intensive multi-year litigation, settlement of $15 million in mitigation and $2 million in attorneys fees and costs.

Environmental Health Coalition v. County of San Diego, San Diego Superior Court, 1996

Action under Air Toxic Hotspots Act against County for failure to disclose existence of toxic industrial chemicals in vicinity of low-income San Diego neighborhood. Action settled in exchange for agreed-upon public disclosure in newspapers and attorneys fees.

Southwest Center for Biological Diversity v. Babbitt, United States District Court for the Southern District of California, 1996

Endangered Species Act suit challenging U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision denying petition to list the Coastal Cactus Wren as endangered, based on its geographical diversity from interior Cactus Wren population. Plaintiff's motion for discovery of evidence outside administrative record denied. On cross-motions for summary judgment, summary judgment granted for defendant.

Pala Band of Mission Indians v. County of San Diego, San Diego Superior Court, 1997

CEQA challenge to County's failure to prepare program EIR for approval of integrated waste management plan including tentative landfill sites. Court denied writ, holding that because sites were tentative, no EIR required. Judgment affirmed on appeal.

Sierra Land Use Group v. County of Tuolomne, Tuolumne County Superior Court, 1997

CEQA challenge of approval of mitigated negative declaration for retail project in Sierra town of Jamestown, where no factual support existed for purported traffic mitigation measures. Court issued writ of mandate requiring new environmental analysis and awarded attorneys fees and multiplier.

Spirit of the Sage Council v. County of San Bernardino and Mitsubishi Cement Corporation, San Bernardino Superior Court, 1998

CEQA challenge to approval of Mitsubishi expansion of limestone mine within National Forest, where no substantial evidence supported off-site mitigation (revegetation) plan for sensitive plant species. Court issued writ of mandate requiring new environmental analysis. Parties settled attorneys fees prior to filing fee petition.

Spirit of the Sage Council v. City of Calimesa, Riverside County Superior Court, 1999

CEQA challenge of City approval of LAFCO annexation of additional areas into huge development area, without updating ten-year-old EIR to analyze new information regarding endangered and sensitive species. Court denied writ, finding that scientific record did not definitively establish newly listed species on site.

San Diego Police Historical Assn. v. Port District, San Diego Superior Court, 1999

CEQA challenge to approval of redevelopment plan including demolition of historic Works Progress Administration-era San Diego Police Headquarters building to allow expansion of shopping center and construction of underground parking garage. Court denied writ, finding that substantial evidence supported finding that goals of project could not be achieved without razing building. (Building still exists due to development problems.)

Preserve South Bay v. CALTRANS, San Diego Superior Court, 2000

CEQA challenge to approval of funding for preliminary design, development and miscellaneous support activities for proposed twelve lane tollroad in South Bay, San Diego County. Action voluntarily dismissed in March 2000 in light of agency's certification of EIS/EIR. Respondents' motion to tax costs denied in entirety.

McCarty v. City of San Diego, San Diego Superior Court, 2000

Writ of mandate action under Subdivision Map Act, Municipal Code, CEQA and other laws challenging City's failure to enforce permit conditions of large residential development in Carmel Valley area of San Diego. In denying demurrer, court upheld right of public to sue for violation of Multi Habitat Conservation Plan as third party beneficiary.

Deutsch v. City and County of San Diego, San Francisco Superior Court, 2000-2001

Writ of mandate action under CEQA challenging City's failure to require environmental impact report for subdivision in Potrero Hill area of San Francisco, which required razing of disputed historical residence and degrading wildlife habitat. Obtained temporary restraining order (TRO) against destruction of structure.

Regional Council of Rural Counties, et al. v. State of California, et al., Sacramento Superior Court

Represented intervenor The Bay Institute in complex consolidated CEQA lawsuits regarding the CALFED water program. (Ongoing)

Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Federal Highway Administration, et al., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (San Diego) (filed 2001)

Challenge under Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Clean Water Act of approval of proposed twelve lane tollroad in South Bay, San Diego County. (Ongoing)

North Hills Phoenix Association v. City of Oakland, Alameda Superior Court (2002-2006)

Challenge of creekbed development and City creek permitting processes, first lawsuit filed under under Oakland Creek Protection Ordinance, as well as California Environmental Quality Act. Case prompted City to impose permit protections on creekbed development. Successfully opposed SLAPP motion at trial court on appeal filed by developer applicant. Developer applicant's motion to tax costs denied in its entirety.

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