Meyers Nave Litigators Achieve Record Results On Our Clients’ High-Stakes Cases
Meyers Nave litigation attorneys obtain victories at both the trial and appellate level on many of our clients’ most complex, highest profile and strategically important cases throughout California. The legal and regulatory matters cover a broad spectrum of the firm’s expertise, including Land Use, Environmental, First Amendment, Commercial Litigation, Construction, Crisis Management, Public Finance and Public Records. Please read the below summary of a few representative examples of our litigation successes.
$477 Million Downtown Arena for the Sacramento Kings
Meyers Nave defeated every legal challenge against the new $477 million downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings NBA team, including (1) an eminent domain victory giving the City of Sacramento permission to take over the final piece of downtown property, (2) a published appellate decision denying a CEQA-based challenge to the project, (3) a published appellate decision denying a constitutional challenge to the special statute passed to streamline the City’s CEQA review of the proposed arena (the first appellate decision concerning the constitutionality of project-specific CEQA streamlining statutes), and (4) an 11-day trial alleging that the public-private partnership behind the arena engaged in a “secret subsidy,” collusion, fraud, concealment, waste and illegal expenditure of public funds, along with alleged illegalities in the City’s bond financing. The case settled for dismissal of all claims with prejudice in exchange for a waiver of costs subsequent to the Court finding that “plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden of proof on any of their causes of action.” The trial victory was recognized by The Daily Journal among the “Top Defense Results” of the year.
California Supreme Court’s Most Prominent CEQA Case
Meyers Nave represented Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and his wife Freada Kapor Klein before the California Supreme Court in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, a precedent-setting CEQA case that the Daily Journal featured in a cover story. The case also received extensive media attention and coverage in numerous Law360 articles, from an article that described it as “the biggest CEQA case the state’s high court will consider” to an article following the final day of oral argument in which commentators described it as “a landmark CEQA case…to determine the fundamental legal nature and practical utility of CEQA’s regulatory exemptions…in what promises to be a blockbuster decision.” The Court’s highly anticipated decision resolved years of uncertainty by holding that there must be “unusual circumstances” in order for an otherwise categorically exempt project to be subject to CEQA. The Court also resolved a divide among Courts of Appeal, holding that an agency’s findings as to unusual circumstances are subject to the substantial evidence standard. The Court established a new two-part test to analyze a project opponent’s assertion that a project presents “unusual circumstances” that require CEQA review.
Largest Fine Against a Utility in the United States
For seven years, Meyers Nave served as Special Counsel to the City of San Bruno regarding a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people, injured 58 others and destroyed or damaged 90 homes. Meyers Nave’s work was instrumental in the imposition of a record $1.6 billion fine against PG&E, the largest ever levied against a utility in the U.S. Our work also uncovered potential political corruption at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and led to multiple state and federal investigations of the utility and public agency. A federal court jury convicted PG&E of one felony count of obstructing the federal probe of the blast and five felony counts of knowingly violating pipeline safety laws before and after the disaster. A federal judge ordered PG&E to pay the maximum $3 million fine, complete 10,000 hours of community service and serve five years of probation. PG&E also subsequently agreed to pay $86.5 million in penalties and fines over 164 illegal ex parte communications it had with CPUC regulators over a five year period. The multi-faceted litigation also involved a California Public Records Act lawsuit for which the City of San Bruno received a James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Northern California Society of Journalists. Law360 named Meyers Nave a “California Powerhouse” and noted that the firm “flexed its muscle” by “marshaling the City of San Bruno through the aftermath of a devastating pipeline explosion.” Meyers Nave led the total recovery of $126 million for the City of San Bruno. The firm’s work garnered numerous awards, including “Giant Slayer” (The Recorder), “Energy & Environmental Trailblazer” (National Law Journal), “Top Women Lawyers” (Daily Recorder) and “Top California Lawyers” (Daily Journal).
Aliso Canyon/Porter Ranch Massive Natural Gas Leak
In County of Los Angeles v. Southern California Edison, Meyers Nave assisted the County of Los Angeles in a public health crisis regarding the largest methane gas release in U.S. history. The Meyers Nave crisis litigation team parachuted in on an extremely urgent basis, consulted with the public health department, quickly assessed the legal landscape, and successfully obtained a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction that allowed 3,000 relocated families to remain in safe alternative housing. The Aliso Canyon gas leak (also called Porter Ranch gas leak) was a massive natural gas leak from a well in an underground storage facility in the Santa Susana Mountains near Porter Ranch, Los Angeles. California Governor Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency for what was internationally reported to have been the largest and worst single natural gas leak in U.S. history in terms of its environmental impact.
$162 Million Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center/UCLA
The University of California’s General Counsel engaged Meyers Nave to help “bulletproof” the Environmental Impact Report for one of UCLA’s highest-profile projects, the 294,000-square-foot $162-million Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference and Guest Center. As expected, opposition groups filed lawsuits raising numerous challenges, including CEQA, zoning and taxation. Our guidance during the EIR administrative process with a focus on anticipating potential litigation was validated in a subsequent series of courtroom victories, culminating in an appellate judge rejecting all CEQA claims filed by a community group. We also obtained the dismissal of claims that were filed against the Luskins with a published appellate decision confirming that financial support from private donors is expression protected by the constitutional right of free speech.
$380 Million Expansion at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
Meyers Nave represented Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in its breach-of-contract suit against Turner Construction regarding its failure to deliver a project which includes the construction of a 366,000 square foot 168-bed inpatient building, construction of a utility loop, and upgrades to the energy plant. During the course of the Project, there were disputes between the County and Turner regarding compliance with California building codes, workplace safety, quality of construction, and completing the project by the contracted dates. Meyers Nave finalized an agreement in which both parties agreed to a collaborative approach to finish the project in a reasonable time frame and a firm commitment on completion costs with a cap on additional costs.
TRO Protects Client’s Business in a Trade Secret Theft Case
Meyers Nave commercial litigators obtained a Temporary Restraining Order to protect a client company’s trade secrets and greatly reduce unfair competition from a business that two employees set up with stolen confidential information. The San Francisco-based global client is one of the world’s leading purveyors of high-value, collectible vintage and modern timepieces, with a specialty focus on Rolex sports watches. The case involved a former employee and a current employee who had access to customer information, a lead-generation customer wish list, and pricing and margin information. The former employee left the client company and within months launched a competing business. The other participant, while still working at the client company, provided the former employee with client contact information, shared proprietary pricing data, and steered customers to the former employee. The defendants are immediately enjoined from further use or disclosure of the client company’s information and must immediately return all such information in whatever form. The Meyers Nave victory was litigated in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California and asserted claims under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, a new law that is now increasingly being used by companies throughout the U.S.
Adult Entertainment Business Shut Down After 2.5 Year Battle
After a three-week trial, Meyers Nave convinced a judge to grant a permanent injunction to close EyeCandy Showgirls, a business advertising itself as providing “the only nude lap dance in San Diego County.” The defendants in the case – owners of several strip clubs in Southern California – had touted their experience obtaining victories against other municipalities awarding millions in attorney’s fees and damages to the adult use operator. The judge agreed with Meyers Nave that the business was operating unlawfully, was in violation of zoning codes, and was a public nuisance that must be shut down. The trial court also overruled objections and granted the City’s cost bill, which included a trial technician assisting with 350 exhibits, including maps, photos and videos, for a total recovery of $50,000. Meyers Nave also helped Chula Vista update and revise its adult business ordinances.