Labor & Employment associate David Middleton was recently elected president of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to represent the interests of the African American legal community in San Diego County. David has been an Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation board member for three years.
Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report have announced the release of the 2023 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings in which Meyers Nave received rankings in eight categories, including two Tier 1 rankings in Environmental Law and Natural Resources Law in the Metropolitan Oakland area.
In addition to our Tier 1 rankings in Environmental Law and Natural Resources Law in the Metropolitan Oakland area, the firm was also ranked in the following categories:
Metropolitan Tier 2
- Los Angeles – Litigation – Land Use & Zoning
- Oakland – Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law and Municipal Law
Metropolitan Tier 3
- Los Angeles – Litigation – Environmental
- Oakland – Land Use & Zoning Law
- Sacramento – Municipal Law
Firms included in the 2023 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.
To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must first have a lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America®, which recognizes 6% of lawyers practicing in the United States. Eight of our attorneys were recognized in 2023 as “Best Lawyers” in their fields.
The Best Law Firms list is determined by client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in the field and review of additional information provided by law firms.
Best Lawyers says, “Achieving a tiered ranking in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.”
Meyers Nave lawyers Russell Morse, Jon Goetz and Blake Senet represented the Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy in one of the first private land returns to Native Americans in the Los Angeles area. This historic event was widely reported by several Los Angeles media outlets and marks the first time in the nearly 200 years since the California mission system ended that land has been returned to the Tongva people.
Reclaiming ancestral land is rare for any Native American nation, tribe, or band. It is particularly complicated for the Tongva, who lack federal tribal status. Because the tribe was not equipped to process the bequest, Meyers Nave stepped in to provide legal support and advice to the Conservancy which resulted in the successful donation of the property, located in Altadena.
As noted in last week’s Los Angeles Times, “Tongva leaders said they hope the land can provide paths for the community to reconnect with its culture and promote healing from the centuries of trauma.”
Meyers Nave is proud to represent the Conservancy and to have helped secure this landmark victory for the Tongva people.
Neha Shah has joined the firm as a senior associate in the Labor and Employment Practice continuing the group’s strategic growth and strengthening its client offerings. She is based in the firm’s Los Angeles office.
She handles a broad range of matters, including labor and employment with an emphasis on traditional labor relations, advice and counsel, and workplace investigations. She guides employers to minimize liability through preventative measures and providing practical guidance and training to executives and HR professionals.
Neha has significant first-chair experience representing the employer in arbitration, mediation, administrative proceedings, collective bargaining and negotiations. She has conducted several investigations, including claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, Title IX, hostile work environment, collective bargaining agreement violations, and health and safety violations.
She is also a frequent presenter and has shared her expertise at conferences and seminars on the topics of public sector labor law, practicing at PERB, equity and inclusion, and human resources best practices.
Prior to joining Meyers Nave, Neha was a senior labor relations manager and Public Employment Relations Board Lead at the California State University, Office of the Chancellor where she served as the lead for unfair practice charge proceedings for a university system comprised of 23 campuses, more than 60,000 employees and 13 bargaining units with a collective annual compensation cost in excess of $4.2 billion.
Meyers Nave’s Labor and Employment lawyers represent corporations, public entities, non-profit organizations, and public-private partnerships throughout California. We provide day-to-day counseling, draft and review employee handbooks, and conduct internal training programs. Our lawyers also handle workplace investigations, administrative claims, grievances, unfair labor practices and employee relations issues, mediation, arbitration and litigation in state and federal courts.
In 2020, Meyers Nave merged with Brown Law Group, a prominent woman- and minority owned 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 increased the size, state-wide reach and depth of capabilities for representing employers in high-impact litigation.
Learn more about our Labor and Employment practice.
Meyers Nave successfully obtained the dismissal of two high-stakes federal lawsuits brought by AT&T and Verizon, respectively, asserting claims against the City of Los Altos under the Telecommunications Act.
The carriers filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Judge Davila) after their combined 13 small cell wireless facility applications were denied by Los Altos for allegedly failing to comply with the City’s 2019 wireless ordinance. The carriers each filed motions for summary judgment, contending that the City’s denials of their small cell sites were not supported by substantial evidence, and that the denials violated the Telecommunications Act for effectively prohibiting the provision of wireless services in Los Altos.
While the motions for summary judgment were pending, Meyers Nave led a team of land use and telecommunications experts to devise a state-of-the-art wireless ordinance for Los Altos that achieved the City’s land use policy objectives while avoiding provisions that were at a greater risk of being successfully challenged under the Telecommunications Act.
In addition to drafting the ordinance, the Meyers Nave team shepherded the ordinance through the complex CEQA process and approval by the Planning Commission and City Council after a series of public hearings. The process required for the development and adoption of a new wireless ordinance – while the prior wireless ordinance was the subject of federal litigation – was highly nuanced and strategic, requiring careful guidance of the City in the face of scrutiny from the carriers and the public alike.
Following the successful adoption of the new ordinance, the Meyers Nave team moved the Court to dismiss the carriers’ pending cases on mootness grounds. Although hotly contested by the carriers, Judge Davila sided with the City and dismissed both cases on the precise grounds articulated in the briefing.
Deborah Fox, who led the Meyers Nave team on this matter, said: “The rights of localities to regulate wireless facilities under the Telecommunications Act is a rapidly evolving area of the law where the advocacy of legal counsel plays an especially critical role in shaping the developing jurisprudence in this area. That, combined with simultaneously litigating an existing wireless ordinance while developing a new wireless ordinance, made this case particularly intellectually and strategically complex. We were happy to both defeat the two federal cases while at the same time assisting Los Altos with the adoption of a new state-of-the-art wireless ordinance.”
Meyers Nave is proud to once again be named among the 2022 Most Admired Law Firms by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
The publication noted that the firms selected are “consciously working towards creating diverse, positive and supportive environments to help drive the success of their attorneys.”
The publication noted that Meyer Nave has “tallied numerous wins in pro bono and land use matters with a strong public interest, including the new Los Angeles Clippers stadium and the site for the City of Anaheim’s “Big A 2050” mixed-use plaza for the Los Angeles Angels.”
Meyers Nave aims to distinguish itself by the meaningful work it does for its clients, the difference it makes in its communities and the leadership roles its attorneys hold in the legal profession. The firm is also committed to improving diversity and inclusion throughout its offices, in the legal profession and California’s communities.
Of counsel Catherine Carlisle was recently named a lawyer to watch by Best Lawyers in the Commercial Litigation category.
The Best Lawyers’ Ones to Watch recognitions given to attorneys who are earlier in their careers for outstanding professional excellence in private practice in America. Learn more about Cathy and her background.
Meyers Nave’s Eminent Domain Team is proud to partner with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“Metro”) on its property acquisition needs to extend the Westside Purple Line Subway Extension Project from Downtown Los Angeles to Westwood/UCLA. We recently concluded trials relating to subsurface subway tunnel easements located beneath the Beverly Hills High School and Beverly Hills Unified School District Administration Building.
David Skinner, lead counsel from Meyers Nave’s Eminent Domain Team, explains, “Certainly, trials should be a last resort in eminent domain proceedings. Public entities should always try to resolve their property acquisition needs with landowners by settlement. This is particularly true where the landowner is another public entity.” But, here, there were two separate trials to resolve BHUSD’s legal claims. The first was a “bench trial” in December 2019 to confirm Metro’s legal right to acquire the subsurface subway tunnel easements (as a “compatible” and/or “more necessary” public use) by eminent domain. The second was a “jury trial” in July 2022 to resolve BHUSD’s claims for “just compensation,” including the fair market value of the subsurface easements and severance damages to the remainder property. Ultimately, while BHUSD asked the jury to award (for both cases) a total of $53,814,000, the jury verdict was $1,046,000.
These trial results support Metro’s efforts to reduce traffic, congestion and carbon emissions from automobile use, and to make affordable public transportation options available to all in Los Angeles.
In addition to David Skinner, the Meyers Nave team also included associate Kristof Szoke.
Attorneys Janice Brown, Arlene Yang, and Nicole Ries Fox prevailed in a recent decision by the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, in an employment litigation case in which the plaintiff sought more than $2.8 million, plus punitive damages.
Following seven years of litigation and a ten-day bench trial, Judge Eddie C. Sturgeon ruled in favor of the defendants on all counts, a rare occurrence in employment law cases.
The case, Horner v. Leone, concerned a former executive of Mr. Copy, Inc., dba MRC Smart Technology Solutions, Inc., who alleged that his former employer, and its founder and former president, Robert Leone, constructively terminated his employment, discriminated against him based on his age, retaliated against him, and promised to employ him for his working life, and failed to pay him wages, sales commissions and reimbursements.
At trial, witness testimony highlighted the fact that the plaintiff had actually accepted a new job for more pay before he resigned, that he had years of poor performance, and that he sought commissions for accounts that he stopped managing months earlier.
The Court concluded that the plaintiff did not prove that Mr. Copy or Mr. Leone breached any employment agreement; defrauded him; discriminated against him based on his age; retaliated against him; constructively terminated his employment; or failed to pay his wages, commissions, and reimbursements.
Janice Brown, Principal in Meyers Nave’s Labor and Employment Practice, Workplace Investigations Practice and Commercial Litigation Practice, noted, “We tried multiple times to resolve this case without trial, but could not reach agreement. In the end, the Court agreed that our clients’ position was meritorious, and we prevailed on all counts. We thank the Court and the Honorable Eddie C. Sturgeon for his diligence and patience in overseeing this seven-year case. Arlene, Nicole and I recognize the challenge of receiving such a favorable ruling for the defendants in an employment law case. We’re particularly pleased for the founder of Mr. Copy, Inc., Robert Leone, who was the executive who hired Mr. Horner, and who felt the weight of this action. He feels vindicated and deservedly so.”
Why Meyers Nave
Since 1986, Meyers Nave helps clients resolve their most nuanced, challenging, and complex transaction, litigation, and regulatory compliance issues. We are known for our outstanding track record of successful outcomes as well as the creativity we bring to solving high-stakes precedent-setting matters. A highly regarded leader in our founding practice of municipal and special district law, we are also go-to counsel for our wide-ranging experience in land use, environmental law, construction, public contracts, eminent domain, First Amendment law, commercial litigation, labor and employment, workplace investigations, trial and litigation, crisis management, public finance, real estate, and housing, among many other key disciplines. Meyers Nave offers the statewide reach of a California firm with the client service flexibility of a medium-size team. For more information about Meyers Nave, please visit https://www.meyersnave.com/.
After an expedited rulemaking process, the State Water Resources Control Board’s (“Water Board”) emergency drought regulations (“regulations”) became effective when the Office of Administrative Law approved them on May 15. The regulations are designed to result in an immediate statewide 25% reduction in potable urban water usage, in compliance with the Governor’s April 1, 2015 Drought Emergency Executive Order (“Order”). The regulations will remain in effect for 270 days, unless the Water Board determines that they are no longer necessary, due to changed conditions. Agencies subject to the regulations must begin implementation immediately. To support implementation, the Governor has committed funds through legislation and state budget revisions and the Water Board has approved funding guidelines.
The regulations will require urban water suppliers (suppliers serving more than 3,000 connections) to meet individualized water-conservation standards. Urban water suppliers are assigned to one of nine conservation standards (requiring a reduction of between 4% and 36%). Consistent with the Governor’s directive, the Water Board assigned urban water suppliers to higher or lower conservation standards based on their per-capita water usage. Each urban water supplier’s conservation standard can be found here. The conservation standard will be applied on a monthly basis beginning in June 2015 and continuing through January 2016 relative to the water usage in the same month in 2013. Compliance will be measured on a cumulative basis, meaning a water supplier assigned a conservation standard of 25% that reduces usage by 30% in June would not be out of compliance if it failed to meet the 25% standard in July, so long as the cumulative reduction over the two months is more than 25%.
The Water Board has advised that agencies failing to meet the conservation standard can be issued cease and desist orders and the Water Board can impose civil liability of $10,000 per day for violations of the orders.
Non-urban water suppliers can choose between implementing either a 25% reduction or restricting outdoor irrigation to two days per week.
The regulations will allow urban water suppliers to seek a reduced conservation standard if more than 20% of their water is supplied to commercial agriculture or if they have adequate supplies of local surface water. Requirements to apply for the reduced conservation standard were issued on May 21 and are available here.
The regulations prohibit irrigation outside of newly constructed buildings not in compliance with standards to be issued by the Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development. The Building Standards Commission will consider regulations on May 29 to implement this aspect of Governor’s directive.
The regulations also prohibit irrigation of public street medians with potable water. The prohibition against irrigation could potentially apply to turf that provides storm water treatment, slope stabilization, or even dust control functions. One of the Fact Sheets accompanying the draft emergency regulations indicates that implementation guidance will be provided on these prohibitions to ensure that “existing trees remain healthy and do not present a public safety hazard.”
State Funding for Drought Relief
Over the past few months, the state has taken a number of actions to support public agencies’ drought response efforts and Water Board program implementation. On March 27, 2015, the Governor approved a $1 billion emergency drought relief package allowing the Water Board to develop and implement new drought response programs. As a result, on May 19, the Water Board approved guidelines for $19 million in funding to help public agencies, community water systems, not-for-profit organizations, and tribal governments meet emergency drinking water needs. Additional information and resources on this program can be found here.
On May 14th, the Governor released his May Revision of the State Budget, which includes an additional $2.2 billion in one-time resources to continue the state’s response to drought impacts. $1.7 billion is allocated for State Water Board Programs. The Governor proposed a portion of the funds to support local agency and small community efforts to build or upgrade their wastewater systems to meet current standards.
Meyers Nave’s Multidisciplinary Drought Response Team: For nearly three decades, Meyers Nave has assisted public and private clients confronted with complex regulatory and legal challenges. California’s historic drought is raising the stakes and increasing the complexity of water issues that were difficult in times of normal water supply. The drought has also spurred development of new laws and regulations, including the State Water Resources Control Board’s emergency regulations and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The most creative, effective and practical solutions to these new challenges require the comprehensive expertise of our multidisciplinary Drought Response Team, which consists of attorneys who specialize in all key areas of law including Land Use, Environmental, Litigation, Eminent Domain, Infrastructure Development, Construction, and Public Agency, Contracts and Finance. www.meyersnave.com