Mauriello Law Firm Wins Appeal in Breach of Contract Case Involving Cannabis Zoning
Following oral argument by attorney Thomas Mauriello, the California Court of Appeal in San Diego issued its opinion affirming the trial court’s judgment in favor of Mr. Mauriello’s client, Respondent Ricardo Vidal. The case is Ricardo Vidal v. Pick Axe Holdings, LLC, Case No. D081047, Fourth Appellate District, Division One.
The opinion was issued on November 17, 2023 – a mere two days after the matter was argued before the appeals court.
A video of Mr. Mauriello’s oral argument in the Court of Appeal may be may be found here. Note: The relevant excerpt starts at 1:07:40 and ends at 1:17:36. It lasts approximately 10 minutes.
A copy of the Court of Appeal opinion may be found here. The opinion was written by Associate Justice Jose S. Castillo and was joined by Associate Justice Terry B. O’Rourke and Associate Justice Julia C. Kelety.
The parties had entered into a contract providing, among other things, that Pick Ax Holdings would file an application with the City of Vista for a conditional use permit (“CUP”) for a multi-tenant commercial building owned by Mr. Vidal to become a cannabis dispensary, and Pick Axe would then lease the property to operate the dispensary. Mr. Vidal had terminated the contract on grounds that Pick Axe had breached the contract by failing to use “best efforts” to locate a tenant for the property, as required under the contract. He sued for breach of contract and declaratory relief. Pick Axe counter-sued for breach of contract and other claims.
After a bench trial, Judge Ronald Frazier ruled that the contract was unenforceable based on “impossibility” of performance, because the property could never be zoned for a cannabis business under the City of Vista’s zoning laws. Pick Axe appealed that ruling, arguing that it could have attempted to have the property re-zoned for cannabis use. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and affirmed the trial court judgment in favor of Mr. Mauriello’s client, Mr. Vidal.