Eight Meyers Nave Attorneys in Los Angeles and San Diego Receive “Super Lawyers” and “Rising Stars” Recognition

Meyers Nave proudly announces that eight attorneys in our Los Angeles and San Diego offices have been selected for inclusion in the 2021 “Super Lawyers” and “Rising Stars” lists for the Southern California and San Diego regions. Published in Super Lawyers Magazine, only up to five percent of the lawyers in California are named to the Super Lawyers list and only up to 2.5 percent are named to the Rising Stars list.

These recognitions demonstrate our attorneys’ highly regarded expertise in numerous areas of law, including Environmental Litigation, Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment, Employment Litigation, Land Use/Zoning, Eminent Domain, Real Estate, Business Litigation, and State, Local & Municipal Law. We congratulate our team for this important recognition of their legal expertise and professional accomplishments in their geographic regions and their areas of specialty.

Los Angeles Office

  • Amrit Kulkarni, Principal – Recognized in the Super Lawyers categories of (1) Environmental Litigation and (2) Land Use/Zoning (2012-2021)
  • Deborah Fox, Principal – Recognized in the Super Lawyers categories of (1) Constitutional Law, (2) State, Local & Municipal, (3) Land Use/Zoning and (4) General Litigation (2017-2021)
  • Jon Goetz, Senior Of Counsel – Recognized in the Super Lawyers categories of (1) Real Estate: Business, (2) Land Use/Zoning and (3) State, Local & Municipal (2019-2021)
  • Yujin Chun, Senior Associate – Recognized in the Rising Stars categories of (1) General Litigation, (2) Constitutional Law and (3) Legislative & Governmental Affairs (2019-2021)

San Diego Office

  • Janice Brown, Principal – Recognized in the Super Lawyers categories of (1) Employment Litigation: Defense, (2) Employment & Labor: Employer and (3) Business Litigation (2007-2021)
  • Arlene Yang, Principal – Recognized in the Super Lawyers categories of (1) Employment & Labor: Employer, (2) Employment Litigation: Defense and (3) General Litigation (2017-2021)
  • Suzanne Roten, Senior Of Counsel – Recognized in Super Lawyers categories of (1) Employment Litigation: Defense and (2) Employment & Labor: Employer (2019-2021)
  • Anne Smiddy, Associate – Recognized in the Rising Stars categories of (1) Eminent Domain and (2) Business Litigation (2016-2021)

Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Meyers Nave Takes On Another Leading Role

Meyers Nave proudly announces that Principal Eric Casher, Chair of the Firm’s Municipal and Special District Law Practice and Diversity Committee, has been appointed to serve on the newly formed Advancing Equity Advisory Committee of the League of California Cities (LOCC). The 25 members of the Committee represent a diverse group of leaders across California who are charged with identifying how cities and towns can recognize and eliminate biases and disparities, heal racial divisions, and build more equitable communities. Currently in his 3rd year serving as the City Attorney for the City of Pinole in Contra Costa County, Eric is the only City Attorney appointed to the Committee that is comprised of mostly elected Mayors, City Councilmembers and City Managers. The League of California Cities is an association of officials who work together to support California’s 482 cities and towns.

Goals of Advancing Equity Advisory Committee
The Committee will work in partnership with the National League of Cities, Race, Equity And Leadership (REAL) group to identify and recommend best practices, tools, and resources designed to:

  • Strengthen local leaders’ understanding and knowledge of equity and inclusion challenges.
  • Help local leaders reevaluate operations and services through an equity and inclusion lens.
  • Support local leaders in taking action to reform systemic racial biases and inequities that exist in institutions and policies, and replace them with systems that are more inclusive, fair and just.

Headshot of Eric CasherEric Casher, Principal
ecasher@meyersnave.com, 800.464.3559

“I am honored to have this opportunity to work with a dedicated team of elected officials and leaders from across the State to address these critical issues and develop best practices and policies to create a more equitable and just future for all Californians. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working with all types of public entities on equity issues as they play out in different ways, from public contracting, code enforcement, and zoning ordinances, to policy initiatives relating to economic development, affordable housing, and policing. It is exciting to be able to bring my experience to bear and contribute to the important work of this Committee.”

In addition to serving as Chair of Meyers Nave’s Diversity Committee, Eric serves on the Board of numerous organizations that promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession and local communities. He serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the California Minority Counsel Program and recently completed terms as President of California ChangeLawyers and the Charles Houston Bar Association.

Meyers Nave’s Land Use, Environmental, and Natural Resources Law Expertise Ranked Among Nation’s “Best Law Firms”

Meyers Nave proudly announces that our statewide Land Use, Environmental, and Natural Resources Law expertise  has received its sixth consecutive annual recognition as one of the nation’s “Best Law Firms” in the 2021 edition of the U.S. News – Best Lawyers/Best Law Firms report. For the 2021 “Best Law Firms” publication, the evaluation process reviewed 15,587 law firms throughout the United States on a national and regional basis.

Beginning in 2015, Meyers Nave has been included in this prestigious “Best Law Firms” list in the specialty fields of Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Environmental Litigation, and Land Use and Zoning Law and Litigation. Our reputation in both Northern and Southern California has been recognition by Tier 1 rankings for the expertise of Meyers Nave attorneys who serve clients in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area as well as attorneys who serve clients in the greater Oakland metropolitan area.

To be eligible for a “Best Law Firms” ranking, a law firm must first have a lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America©, which honors only 5% of lawyers practicing in the United States. Meyers Nave’s “Best Law Firms” ranking is supported by three Meyers Nave attorneys who are individually recognized as “Best Lawyers in America” in the fields of Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Environmental Litigation, and Land Use and Zoning Law and Litigation.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our corporate, public entity, and public-private partnership clients for trusting Meyers Nave to serve as lead land use and environmental counsel for compliance, transactional and litigation matters on their largest, most complex, and highest-profile development projects throughout California. The “Best Law Firms” ranking process includes a confidential evaluation survey completed by clients, professional references and peer attorneys. Data is also collected from “Best Lawyers” ballots and the information that each law firm provides about the strengths of its areas of expertise. The quantitative and qualitative data is then combined into an overall score for each law firm.

Amrit Kulkarni’s Land Use and Environmental Expertise Featured in Southern California Super Lawyers 2021

Amrit Kulkarni, Chair of Meyers Nave’s Land Use & Environmental Law Practice, is featured in the 2021 issue of Southern California Super Lawyers magazine in an article titled “In For The Long Haul: When Amrit Kulkarni’s not catching waves, he’s helping build big things.” Super Lawyers interviewed Amrit, his clients, and Meyers Nave Managing Principal David Skinner. The article covers Amrit’s specialty in providing transaction and litigation counsel on large-scale, high-profile, complex and often controversial infrastructure, transportation, commercial, and urban development projects throughout California. Amrit’s project experience includes airports, passenger transit systems, freight rail networks, ports, harbors, highways, water resources, mixed-use residential developments, sports and entertainment complexes, university campuses, commercial properties, and industrial facilities.

Super Lawyers notes that “Quite a few California structures bear his fingerprints. Clients come to Kulkarni with big projects that make a significant environmental impact. He’s an expert in navigating the Golden State’s complex environmental laws—particularly the California Environmental Quality Act.” A client also commented that “A good CEQA lawyer is someone with attention to detail, and who can handle the transactional side but is not afraid of the litigation. Most lawyers pick one, but CEQA requires the skill set in both. Kulkarni and his team spot issues and bring a sense of confidence. They are consistently aware of new rulings and cases. Never once has he not been there when we needed him.” Amrit explained that his approach to client service is “You have to work in tandem with your client—thinking about all the issues that can arise to help them achieve their objectives by creating a path that is as clean, straightforward and problem-free as possible. What’s rewarding to me is being part of something tangible that you can see which has changed the landscape. I want to create things. I want to help get things done and built. The projects I get involved with are meant to renew the economy, provide jobs and make things work better. The joy isn’t in how much attention they get, but in whether you get them done.”

Please click here to read Amrit’s feature article profile, which is also copied below.

“In For The Long Haul: When Amrit Kulkarni’s
not catching waves, he’s helping build big things,”
Super Lawyers Southern California 2021

WHENEVER AMRIT KULKARNI FLIES THROUGH Los Angeles International Airport, he takes a moment to reflect on what he calls his “small but meaningful part” in the airport’s growth—successfully defending LAX’s $13 billion expansion plan against four consolidated lawsuits a decade ago. Kulkarni, chair of Meyers Nave’s land use practice group, has many chances for such quiet moments. Quite a few California structures bear his fingerprints. The NBA’s Kings play in a glistening stadium in downtown Sacramento because of his work pushing the project through on a tight deadline in 2015 after a judge dismissed a claim that the city gave an illegal “secret subsidy” for the arena. And when the city of Riverside claimed that a major project in the port of Los Angeles would cause traffic jams 62 miles away, he successfully defended against that one, too.

From a major league baseball stadium in Anaheim, to a Frank Gehry-designed development on Sunset Boulevard, to a high speed rail in Barstow, clients come to Kulkarni with big projects that make a significant environmental impact. He’s an expert in navigating the Golden State’s complex environmental laws—particularly the signature California Environmental Quality Act, more commonly known as CEQA. “A lot of law is about arguing over documents and dollars moving here and there,” Kulkarni says. “That’s important. But what’s rewarding to me is being part of something tangible that you can see which has changed the landscape. I want to create things. I want to help get things done and built.”

These large-scale projects require a lot of legal scaffolding because of how they impact different parts of a community. When Kulkarni’s clients get attention, it’s often because people are holding protest signs or sitting with arms folded at a government meeting. In describing Kulkarni, Janna Sidley, general counsel of the Port of Los Angeles, says, “A good CEQA lawyer is someone with attention to detail, and who can handle the transactional side but is not afraid of the litigation. Most lawyers pick one, but CEQA requires the skill set in both. It also requires a talented writer who can tell the court and the public why they are doing this project at this time. People generally don’t like change, so you need a visionary who can explain how this next step will benefit everyone. Kulkarni and his team spot issues and bring a sense of confidence. They are consistently aware of new rulings and cases. … Never once has he not been there when we needed him.”

FINDING COMMON GROUND COMES NATURALLY to Kulkarni. His parents emigrated from India, settled in Virginia, and in 1976, when Kulkarni was 7, his dad got a job as a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Kulkarni remembers “a long cross-country trip in a broken-down car with no air conditioning in the dead of summer.” At UC Santa Cruz, his focus was the environmental studies program, and for his senior thesis he spent six months in India, where he studied how impoverished communities addressed shortages of services. “I was exposed to both cultures,” he says. “It is important to defining how I approach things. In the legal world, you’re always trying to navigate complex projects where there are often divergent points of view. Understanding where people are coming from helps you navigate those murky waters.”

After graduating, he became an environmental consultant. He helped find suitable sites for development while handling regulatory permitting. But after two years on the job, he felt dissatisfied. Then an epiphany. “As I was working on one project, a Superfund site, I was astounded how many layers of legal stuff were required to make this thing happen,” he says. “I realized if I wanted to play a part in effectuating these projects, I had to get on the legal side.” After graduating from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in 1998, he first encountered CEQA while working for a small firm in Ventura County. The complex statute can seem like the Rosetta Stone to most people, but for Kulkarni it was love at first sight. “CEQA is legally complex and politically charged,” he says. “It’s like putting the pieces of a puzzle together to make your case. The fun is in the puzzle.”

A year later, he joined Meyers Nave. At the time, the firm mostly handled traditional development involving residential and commercial properties; but during and after the 2008 global financial meltdown, the firm transitioned to large-scale projects with long-term horizons. LAX was his first big client. Kulkarni was the lead attorney for the South Airfield Improvement Project, which was the first project implementation under the LAX Master Plan. Handling the legal details involved forecasting cargo and passenger traffic 15 years into the future, and determining how noise impact and air quality emissions are calculated. “This made me understand the interplay between law, science and other fields,” Kulkarni says.

His clients include the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, various cities, and multiple University of California school systems. “He is very collaborative and a team person,” says David Skinner, managing principal of Meyers Nave. “He delegates a lot because he has to in cases of this size, complexity and long-term nature. He has built a high-performing team and they work as a team, and he has a big trust investment in them.” Kulkarni has already spent 10 years working on the BART expansion into Silicon Valley. He is representing the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in lawsuits from parties that have issues with parking, tunnel size and other details. “These projects often take a decade or more to implement,” he says. “You have to work in tandem with your client—thinking about all the issues that can arise to help them achieve their objectives by creating a path that is as clean, straightforward and problem-free as possible.”

Of course “problem-free” and large development projects in a state like California can be something of a contradiction. “Development in California, especially large projects, has one of the most challenging and complex processes in the country,” he acknowledges. “There are federal, state and local legal overlays. On top of that, California has a very robust process for vetting projects, and a very robust litigation process for people who don’t agree with the outcome of the vetting process.”

Kulkarni describes his courtroom style as “methodical” and “step-by-step.” He likes to present issues in a straightforward and clear way that simplifies complex issues. “Every major project has a story that needs to be told,” he says. “And I try to tell that story through the legal lens.” He also tailors his presentation to the particular court. “Some judges are focused on the technical, factual and legal issues,” he says. “Some judges are more focused on the implications of the decisions and the policy considerations. The job of the lawyer in that situation is to provide the right information based on the judge’s focus and to address the judge’s concerns.” Skinner has seen this firsthand. He recalls a bench trial with an aggressive opposing counsel. “Amrit not only has the ability to simplify legal issues for a court, but he also has the ability to engage with judges in a dialogue about complex legal issues and the nuances of the law,” Skinner says. “In a major CEQA case challenging a major transit project, at trial Amrit simply stated, ‘I feel the opposing counsel and I are speaking different languages because he can’t appreciate the nuances.’ The judge was nodding his head as he listened.”

It’s not all airports and stadiums. Kulkarni represented Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and his wife in a case in which they wanted to build their dream home on a steeply sloped and wooded lot in North Berkeley. Neighbors complained that the 6,478-squarefoot house and its 3,394-square-foot garage were too large and seismically unsafe for the area. Typically, single-family houses were exempt from preparing environmental impact reports, and this case centered on exactly when such properties needed further review under CEQA. After 10 years of litigation—five with Kulkarni on the case—it ended up in the California Supreme Court in 2015. “The judges asked a lot of tough questions, coming from every angle imaginable,” Kulkarni says, but the court ruled in his client’s favor. An opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle labeled the decision “a significant reform” in the state’s signature environmental law, eliminating “detailed, time-consuming, often-redundant and expensive environmental and public review process for nonexempt projects.”

Kulkarni says he doesn’t particularly like to have op-eds written about his work, even if it’s complimentary. “The projects I get involved with are meant to renew the economy, provide jobs and make things work better,” he says. “The joy isn’t in how much attention they get, but in whether you get them done. If you’re doing a good job, where there are as few problems as possible, these projects should get less attention.”

GIVEN HIS PRACTICE AREA, it makes sense that much of Kulkarni’s spare time is spent outdoors—backpacking, hiking, but especially surfing. When he first moved to California, Kulkarni got seasick bobbing up and down on the waves; then he quickly took to it. He has since traveled the world in search of waves. “Surfing is a centering way to put aside the pressures of the legal profession, meditate and self-reflect,” he says. “When you are bobbing up and down on the water in the late afternoon as the sun sets, waiting for a wave, it brings down your blood pressure and brings a peace and relaxation that counters the demands and hecticness of being a lawyer.” Bonus: He’s landed some clients conversing with fellow surfers waiting for that wave. “Surfing is a very social sport,” he explains. The mellow nature of the sport fits his personality. “I like to paint in broad strokes when it comes to surfing or dealing with my kids,” he says. “I’m not into the hyper-technical details. I give my kids a lot of runway to figure things out. I don’t like to micromanage. People have to arrive at a decision themselves to feel most comfortable with it.”

“The law can beat you up and harden you, but I don’t think it has changed who he is,” Sidley says. “He’s a real person.” And a voracious reader. A sci-fi buff, Kulkarni has lately been consuming biographies of past presidents to better understand our current times. “History is a guide for the future,” he says. “We are an always-evolving country. When you look at the U.S. from a historical perspective, you realize how resilient we are as a country. Sometimes we take a few steps forward, sometimes we take a few steps back. Hopefully, the arc is always moving in the right direction.”

Celebrating Black Entrepreneurs: Janice Brown, the Merger with Meyers Nave, and Diversity Featured in San Diego Business Journal

In honor of Black History Month, the San Diego Business Journal is featuring local Black entrepreneurs who have achieved success in their businesses and greatly contributed to the San Diego community. Janice Brown, the merger of her Brown Law Group with Meyers Nave, and the importance of diversity are featured in the Journal’s first of four weekly special issues through February. In an article titled “Encouragement Changes Lives,” the Journal explained that “Janice Brown Encouragement is what Janice Brown needed to change her life and give her the confidence to start her own law firm – the Brown Law Group. Now she tries to do the same for others as she shares how she looks at everything as an opportunity to learn.” The Journal article is copied below and available here. Please click here to learn more about the merger with Meyers Nave.

“Encouragement Changes Lives,” San Diego Business Journal, February 1, 2021

headshot of Janice BrownJanice Brown said the encouragement of one federal judge changed her life and it gave her the confidence to eventually found her own firm, Brown Law Group.  Now, she tries to do the same for others in her current role as a Principal at Meyers Nave. As a leader she humbly recognizes that she does not know everything, but takes everything as an opportunity to learn.

 

A Judge’s Confidence
Early in her career, Brown worked at a firm where the leadership wasn’t as flexible and one day after court, a federal judge called Brown back to her chamber. The judge went out of her way to acknowledge Brown’s talent and she encouraged her to find other opportunities that would foster her growth, rather than stifle it. “That was a big risk on her part, because she doesn’t know me,” Brown said. “She took a risk that I would take the advice legitimately and still to this day I thank her, and I stay connected to her because she had confidence in me. When someone like a federal judge has confidence in you, that changes how you perceive yourself. So, I try to do that to other people because I understood what it meant when she did that for me.”

Merger With Purpose
While at the U.S. Justice Department, where she started her career, she was awarded “Outstanding Trial Attorney” and “Trial Lawyer of the Year” awards in under three years.  She founded her San Diego firm, Brown Law Group, in 1999 and has served local corporations and Fortune 50 companies headquartered throughout the U.S. for over 20 years. In October 2020, Brown Law Group merged with Meyers Nave, a firm that serves businesses, public entities, nonprofits and P3s throughout California. The merger not only expanded Meyers Nave’s presence in San Diego, but it also builds on its commitment to fostering diversity in its overall practice.

At Meyers Nave, Brown is a Principal in the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice, Workplace Investigations Practice and Commercial Litigation Practice, rapidly growing fields of law in California. “Janice and her team bring exceptional experience and depth in high-impact employment litigation, both in Southern California and statewide,” said David Skinner, Managing Principal at Meyers Nave. “By joining forces, Meyers Nave and Janice’s team are uniquely qualified to meet the increasing demand for high quality labor and employment services on challenging and complex matters in the private and public sector.”  With more than 35 years of experience in trial, arbitration and appellate experience in state and federal courts, Brown was drawn to the complex and people-oriented practice of employment law. She primarily represents companies with a pro-active and relationship focused approach that ensures employers are educated on the ever-changing labor laws.

Diverse Leadership
Brown said the decision to join Meyers Nave was one of the best choices she’s made. She knew she wanted to sell her firm eventually, but what really attracted her to Meyers Nave was the diverse leadership. “It felt like a place that I could be myself in,” Brown said. “What I’ve come to realize is the more yourself you are, the more…almost like magnetic, you are, because you’re comfortable in your own skin. So I knew I needed to go someplace where I was comfortable in my own skin.”

Skinner proudly shared that 60% of the firm’s attorneys are comprised of women and minority attorneys and eight of the firm’s practice group leaders are women and/or minority attorneys. “What works for us at Meyers Nave is “hard-wiring” diversity and inclusion into every aspect of our business,” Skinner said. “This is not just a core value. It is a key part of our strategic planning, business development training, recruiting and retention — including our summer diversity fellowship.”

Building Business
Brown said another benefit to joining Meyers Nave was that it allowed her to continue working on her business venture called Beyond Law.  She helps lawyers not only build their own book of business, but understand how to manage a network of clients that will grow their career and ultimately their confidence. Also, with this understanding she said that her experience founding a minority, woman-owned business has been a strength in her career in more ways than one.  “To be an entrepreneur, to have a business, you need to be resilient,” Brown said. “Because you’re gonna have people say no. And so, if people say no, you have to be comfortable with overcoming it.”

Newly Adopted Cal/OSHA Emergency Standards Require Immediate Action by California Employers

On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal/OSHA) unanimously adopted emergency temporary standards to protect workers from workplace hazards related to COVID-19.

When do the emergency standards go into effect?
The newly adopted emergency standards will go into effect on November 30, 2020. Employers should review their COVID-19 prevention plans and ensure that they are in compliance with the emergency standards. Prior to the adoption of these emergency standards, Cal/OSHA had primarily recommended that employers follow its general and industry-specific guidance in order to minimize their employees’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. However, the new emergency standards will be enforceable against most California employers. Non-compliance with these regulations may result in employers having to pay fines in accordance with Cal/OSHA’s penalty structure.

Who does it apply to?
All employees and places of employment, with the following exceptions:

  1. Workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other persons
  2. Employees working from home
  3. Employees when covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard in Section 5199, which include:
    • Employees who work in certain health care facilities, such as:
      • Hospitals
      • Clinics, medical offices, and other outpatient medical facilities
      • Long term health care facilities and hospices
    • Employees who provide certain services, such as:
      • Police services, provided during transport or detention of persons that have, or suspected to have, contracted COVID-19
      • Police services provided in conjunction with health care or public health operations
      • Paramedic and emergency medical services, including those provided by firefighters and other emergency responders
      • Medical transport and medical outreach services
    • Employees that work in any of the following:
      • Correctional facilities and other facilities that house inmates or detainees
      • Homeless shelters
      • Drug treatment programs

What do the new emergency standards require?
Under the new regulations, employers must establish, implement, and maintain an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Plan that protects employees and addresses the following:

  • Accessibility of COVID-19 Prevention Plan – making the COVID-19 Prevention Plan accessible to employees and employee representatives.
  • System for communicating information to employees about COVID-19 prevention procedures, testing, symptoms and illnesses, including a system for employees to report exposures without fear of retaliation.
  • Identification and evaluation of hazards – screening employees for symptoms, identifying workplace conditions and practices that could result in potential exposure.
  • Investigating and responding to cases in the workplace – responding immediately to potential exposures by following steps to determine who may have been exposed, providing notice within one business day about potential exposures, and offering testing to workers who may have been exposed.
  • Correcting COVID-19 hazards – including correcting unsafe conditions and work practices as well as providing effective training and instruction.
  • Physical distancing – implementing procedures to ensure workers stay at least six feet apart from other people if possible.
  • Face coverings – providing free face coverings and ensuring they are worn.
  • Adopting site-specific strategies such as changes to the workplace and work schedules and providing personal protective equipment to reduce exposure to the virus.
  • Removal of COVID-19 exposed workers and COVID-19 positive workers from the workplace with measures to protect pay and benefits.
    • This includes paying employees that need to quarantine for 14 days.
  • Return to work criteria for COVID-19 cases – employees recovering from COVID-19 may not return to work until:
    • At least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 or higher has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications;
    • COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and
    • At least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared
  • Return to work criteria for exposed employees – exposed employees are required to quarantine for 14 days
  • Negative COVID-19 test – employers are restricted from requiring a negative test prior to returning employees to the workplace.
  • Recording requirements – recording positive COVID-19 case and illness recording requirements, such as:
    • Reporting information about COVID-19 cases in the workplace to the local health department when required by law
    • Reporting to Cal-OSHA any COVID-19 related “serious illness or death” of an employee occurring in a place of employment or in connection with any employment
      • Serious injury or illness” here means any positive COVID-19 case occurring in the workplace or in connection with any employment that requires inpatient hospitalization
    • Keeping records of and tracking all COVID-19 cases with the employee’s name, contact information, occupation, location where the employee worked, the date of the last day at the workplace, and the date of a positive COVID-19 test. Medical information must be kept confidential in accordance with applicable law.
  • Requirements for testing and notifying public health departments of “workplace outbreaks” (three or more cases in a workplace in a 14-day period) and “major outbreaks” (20 or more cases within a 30-day period).
    • Employers must provide COVID-19 testing to all employees if there is a “workplace outbreak” (defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in an exposed workplace within a 14-day period)
  • Infection prevention – specific requirements for infection prevention in employer-provided housing and transportation to and from work.

Next Steps for Employers
The information above is not exhaustive of the entire new emergency temporary standards. Employers are strongly encouraged to consult with their attorneys to obtain and review the complete list of new requirements and the description of all covered employees and places of employment. Employers should begin by carefully reviewing any COVID-19 prevention plans they currently have in place.

Meyers Nave Litigators Secure $6.6 Million Award for County of Los Angeles in Land Use, Environmental Protection Case

In a closely watched victory for the County of Los Angeles, a Meyers Nave trial team won a final ruling for the County that awarded a total of $6,673,496.22 in civil penalties, discovery sanctions, costs and attorneys’ fees, plus permanent injunctive relief, in a case that involved the illegal transport and dumping of concrete and other construction debris in the Santa Susana Mountains. The court entered judgement on October 19, 2020, ending years of litigation that was covered in the Los Angeles Times on May 31, 2018. (County of Los Angeles and People of the State of California v. Fishback and ABC Waste Management, Case No. PC056481, Oct. 20, 2020)

Unpermitted Dump
Beginning in at least 2014 and without permits, defendant Wayne Fishback and his company ABC Waste Management Corp. began operating a large commercial dump in an ecologically sensitive area of the Santa Susana Mountains. Six days per week, 100 or more trucks per day trekked up a narrow mountain road, paying Fishback/ABC $100-$120 per load to dump concrete, brick, demolition debris and construction waste over hillsides and into ravines, and using earthmoving equipment to create, widen, and flatten roadways to make truck access easier. Their operation was subject to County land use regulations, including those requiring permits for dumping material, grading roadways for truck traffic, and building structures. The operation as a whole also constituted a nuisance and violated unfair competition laws because it was illegal yet held itself out as an authorized business. Fishback argued the operation was not subject to land use regulations because it constituted a recycling operation covered by regulations promulgated by different regulatory agencies. In the May 31, 2018 Los Angeles Times article, Fishback commented that he was not operating a dump. Instead, he was recycling materials to ultimately level undeveloped terrain where he would eventually build a 250-acre Liberty Ranch which would “be a big, beautiful park with cabins, horses and zip lines, too.”

Defendants Violated Court Orders
Because defendants had not complied with County land use regulations, the County cited their operation as an unpermitted “land reclamation project” and “waste disposal facility.” When defendants subsequently continued their operation, the County filed suit and a court issued a preliminary injunction on December 23, 2015 directing defendants to cease operating and ordered them to apply for required County permits. Although defendants repeatedly assured the Court that they were complying with the order and preliminary injunction, they never applied for County permits and evidence (consisting of drone surveillance and more than 500 exhibits) presented to the Court showed defendants continued their operation. After considering this evidence, on August 13, 2018 the Court amended its prior preliminary injunction by barring commercial size dump trucks from entering defendants’ property.

Court Grants County’s MSJ, Issues Permanent Injunction, Awards $6.6+ Million
The County moved for summary judgment on its six causes of action against defendants: four causes of action for violating the County’s Zoning, Building, and Grading Codes; one cause of action for unfair competition (brought in the name of the People of the State of California); and one cause of action for nuisance. The Court granted the motion in its entirety, including granting a permanent injunction that mirrored the terms of the then-existing amended preliminary injunction. The Court also granted the County’s request for civil penalties, court costs, attorneys’ fees, and sanctions, and awarded the County a total of $6,673,496.22. This amount includes civil penalties of $5,693,000; court costs of $33,803.89; attorneys’ fees of $945,192.33; and discovery sanctions of $1,500. The Court also ordered that before engaging any use of the property, defendants must retain a licensed Geologist and a licensed Geotechnical Engineer to submit a permit application to address erosion control and hillside stability issues.

Deborah Fox Selected Among the “Top 100 Lawyers in California”

Meyers Nave proudly announces that the Daily Journal selected Deborah Fox to its 2020 list of the “Top 100 Lawyers in California.” The list honors “those whose superior achievement and stellar results place them in a super-elite category.” The State Bar of California licenses more than 266,000 attorneys to practice law in California, making Deborah’s recognition that much more outstanding. The honor is one of the California legal profession’s most highly respected and coveted recognitions of legal expertise, exceptional client service, consistent results and team leadership.

Deborah chairs Meyers Nave’s First Amendment Practice and Trial & Litigation Practice. Her cases frequently attract intense media attention and public scrutiny, including matters of first impression and matters requiring her additional expertise in crisis management. For example, Deborah represents the County of Santa Barbara in a dispute with Southern California Edison regarding potential liability for the 2017 Thomas Fire and subsequent Montecito debris flow and she recently achieved a victory for the County of Los Angeles in a final ruling that awarded $6.6 million in attorneys’ fees, sanctions and civil penalties plus permanent injunctive relief in a case that involved the illegal transport and dumping of concrete and other construction debris in an ecologically sensitive region in the Santa Susana Mountains.

Below is the “Top 100 Lawyers” description of Deborah’s legal expertise, which focuses on her pioneering defense of counties, cities and named public officials throughout California in a new wave of federal litigation challenging Shelter In Place Orders and Reopening Plans related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fox successfully defended government entities in cases in which two churches and a gym are fighting orders to close or limit operations because of the coronavirus. “The first two are pastors and congregations who want to have in-person church. The last is a mega-fitness center who wants to have in-person classes and say they have a constitutional right to work out on an elliptical machine,” she said. Gish v. Newsom, et al., 2020 WL 1979970 (C.D. Cal. filed April 24, 2020); Cross Culture v. Newsom, et al., 2020 WL 2121111 (E.D. Cal. filed May 5, 2020); Best Supplement Guide v. Newsom, et al., 2020 WL 2615022 (E.D. Cal. May 22, 2020).

Fox isn’t one to gloat. She offered high praise for her main adversary but notes that the public entities have prevailed  across the board – at the district court, the 9th Circuit and even the Supreme Court of the United States. Noting that even Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh have deferred to the ability of the public entities to decide how they’re going to combat this deadly virus.

Fox’s victories mostly rest on a 1905 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that local governing bodies had the right to mandate vaccinations during a smallpox outbreak. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905). “It is within the police power of a state to enact a compulsory vaccination law, and it is for the legislature, and not for the courts, to determine,” the court wrote. Nevertheless, Fox said she has sympathy for the plaintiffs she is fighting. “There’s some folks who try to pit this as a political and ideological debate and demonize people, but these plaintiffs have very heartfelt religious convictions,” she said. “They’re well intended people of faith but it is the responsibility of public health to protect the public. The consequences are extremely high.”

Meyers Nave Merges with Brown Law Group, Expands Statewide Labor and Employment Practice

On October 1, 2020, Meyers Nave merged with Brown Law Group, a prominent boutique employment law firm based in San Diego serving many of the nation’s largest employers for more than 20 years. Combining Brown Law Group with Meyers Nave’s Labor and Employment Law Practice reflects the rapidly growing market for labor and employment law services throughout California and expands and enhances the firm’s capabilities representing employers in high impact litigation.

The merger received state and national news coverage which also focused on both Firms’ demonstration of their commitment to diversity.

“We are thrilled that Janice and her team will be joining Meyers Nave. As a mid-sized California law firm, we have been looking at opportunities to grow our employment law and litigation capabilities,” said David Skinner, Meyers Nave’s Managing Principal. “Janice is a power-house. She built a highly successful, dynamic, woman- and minority-owned law firm which focuses on employment law, commercial litigation and general business litigation. Together, we significantly increase our respective depth of experience to serve our clients’ growing needs for legal services.”

Janice Brown, the founder of Brown Law Group, serves as general counsel to a number of large employers and is a seasoned litigator well known for her 35 years of experience representing nationally prominent clients. Brown has also been named to the Super Lawyers list by Law & Politics magazine since 2007.

Meyers Nave and Brown Law Group have been committed to attracting top legal talent that reflects the diversity of California. Meyers Nave is proud to note that women and minority attorneys make up approximately 60% of the firm’s lawyers and eight of the firm’s practice groups are led by women and/or minority attorneys.

“Meyers Nave provides a statewide platform to help me serve the needs of my clients throughout California and increase the range of legal services I can offer my clients,” Brown stated. She emphasized that Meyers Nave’s demonstrated commitment to inclusion was a major factor in the merger. “Finding a law firm with the right culture is not just about work. I’m proud to join a firm where diversity is a core value and not just a slogan. It shows in the people they have in leadership and that I am coming in as an owner.”

Meyers Nave’s Labor and Employment Law Practice is led by Camille Hamilton Pating who also chairs the firm’s Workplace Investigations Practice. The group represents public entities, businesses, non-profit organizations, and public-private partnerships in comprehensive labor and employment law advice, counseling, employee relations, investigations, administrative hearings, and litigation in state and federal courts. “Janice and her team bring an extraordinary level of expertise. Her arrival will be a win for our clients who will continue to receive high quality legal counsel while now benefiting from our expanded capabilities, especially in employment litigation,” Pating stated.

About Janice P. Brown and the Brown Law Group
Brown Law Group is a woman- and minority owned law firm founded by Janice P. Brown, whose highly acclaimed career began as a U.S. Justice Department trial attorney where she earned Trial Lawyer of the Year. Janice founded Brown Law Group in 2003 and, as BLG’s Chief Strategy Officer, she created a successful employment law boutique while maintaining a full client workload. BLG’s employment counseling, training and litigation expertise is highly regarded among local employers as well as Fortune 50 companies headquartered throughout the country. Janice is a past Board member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association and the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms, and the immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

For more information about the merger, please contact:

Janice P. Brown
Email | 619.330.1700

Janice is the founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Brown Law Group, a specialty employment law boutique that merged with Meyers Nave in 2020. Janice has more than 35 years of experience as a trial lawyer with significant trial, arbitration and appellate experience in all areas of employment law, as well as extensive expertise in employment law advice, counseling and training.

David W. Skinner
Email | 800.464.3559

David is the Managing Principal of Meyers Nave. He is a trial attorney with more than 29 years of experience representing public agencies and private parties in complex transactions and high-profile litigation matters. He has successfully tried numerous jury and bench trials in Southern and Northern California, and has handled several appeals that have established legal precedent.

About Meyers Nave: Meyers Nave is a full-service law firm providing transaction, litigation, regulatory compliance and general counsel legal services to corporations, public entities, non-profit organizations and public-private partnerships throughout California. www.meyersnave.com

Women’s Initiative: Meet The Women Who Lead Practices at Meyers Nave

Meyers Nave is proud of our demonstrated commitment to recruit, train, mentor and advance women attorneys throughout our firm. For example, half of Meyers Nave attorneys are women, nine practice groups are led by women, one of three executive committee members is a woman, two of four attorneys elevated to Principal since 2018 are women, four of our six Diversity Fellowship Program participants are women, and Law360 highlighted our commitment to diversity as a key to our merger with the Brown Law Group, a prominent woman- and minority-owned law firm. (“Diversity Is Key In Calif. Boutique Merger With Meyers Nave,” Law360, 9/3/2020). On February 1, 2021, the San Diego Business Journal featured Principal Janice Brown in an article titled “Encouragement Changes Lives: Celebrating Black Entrepreneurship.”

Meet Our Women Leaders
To help introduce the women listed below who lead practice groups at Meyers Nave, we created a Meet Our Women Leaders flyer that briefly describes each attorney’s areas of expertise and includes a quote from a woman leader who inspires each Meyers Nave attorney.

Sharing Their Advice and Experience
Meyers Nave proudly served as a Gold Sponsor of the Daily Journal’s inaugural Women Leadership in Law conferences held in San Francisco and Los Angeles which brought together women who are leading all sectors of the legal profession, including in-house law departments, law firms and the judiciary. To share their personal experiences and professional insight for women litigators, Deborah Fox, Chair of our First Amendment Practice, Trial & Litigation Practice and Crisis Management Practice, spoke at the Los Angeles event and Nancy Harris, Chair of our Commercial Litigation Practice, spoke at the San Francisco event.

Other prominent presentations about women in the legal profession include Brenda Aguilar-Guerrero, Chair of our Eminent Domain & Inverse Condemnation Practice, who spoke about “Pathways to Partnership” at a California Women Lawyers conference as well as the Women’s Leadership Summit for the Municipal Management Association. Brenda also participated on the “Battling Bias” discussion panel at the Women In Law Series hosted by the Alameda County Bar Association and Women Lawyers of Alameda County and spoke about “Career Advancement Obstacles and Opportunities” at a Women Lawyers’ Retreat sponsored by the Alameda County Bar Association, Women Lawyers of Alameda County, Contra Costa Bar Association’s Women’s Section, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, and California Women Lawyers.

Camille Hamilton Pating, Chair of our Labor & Employment Practice and Workplace Investigations Practice, participated on the panel discussing “Overcoming the Imposter Syndrome” at the Women of Color Forum at the California Minority Counsel Program’s Business Conference. Camille also participated on a panel discussing “Organizational Transformation: A Conversation on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” for the Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment.

For more information about Meyers Nave’s Women’s Initiative, please contact the women listed above. Additional information is also available on our Women’s Initiative page.