This monthly update presents real estate related issues pending before the United States and California Supreme Courts. The cases are listed by subject matter. For cases previously reported by first tuesday, see “Recent Case Decisions.” An asterisk (*) indicates cases added since our prior issue. Two asterisks (**) indicate cases accepted by the court and written as a Recent Case Decision.

United States Supreme Court


Eminent Domain


*Wilkie v. Robbins


(No. 06-219) – Whether a government official acting under authority of their office can be guilty of extortion for taking property for the government’s use.


Environmental Law


*United States v. Atlantic Research Corp.


(No. 06-562) – Whether an individual potentially responsible for the cleanup costs of contaminated property may bring an action against another potentially responsible party.      


Government Property


*BP America Production Co. v. Watson


(No. 05-669) – Whether a statute of limitations period applies to federal agency orders demanding the payment of money claimed by the agency under a lease agreement.


California Supreme Court



Crawford v. Weather Shield Mfg., Inc.


(S141541) – Whether a subcontractor can agree with a general contractor to defend the general contractor in lawsuits arising out of the negligence of others.




Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP


(S147190) – Whether all employee non-competition provisions in employment agreements are unenforceable or only those employee non-competition provisions which prevent an employee’s pursuit of a lawful trade or business on termination of the employee.


Sterling v. Taylor


(S121676) – Whether oral evidence can be used to clarify the ambiguities in a written agreement to provide the terms needed for an enforceable agreement.


*Wagner Construction Company v. Pacific Mechanical Corporation


(S136255) – Whether a trial court ruling on a petition to compel arbitration arising from a contract dispute can adjudicate a statute of limitations defense rather than an arbitrator.




*City of Santa Barbara v. Superior Court (Janeway)


(S141643) – Whether parents of a child who died during activities operated by the city may sue the city for gross negligence after signing an agreement releasing the city of liability.


Eminent Domain


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California v. Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc.


(S141148) – Whether, in an eminent domain action to determine the amount of compensation for a taking, rules exist for considering the probability of a re-zoning.


Mt. San Jacinto Community College District v. Superior Court


(S132251) – Whether, in a quick-take eminent domain action, the property’s date of valuation is the date of trial or the date compensation is deposited with the court.


Environmental Documents


*Regional Council of Rural Counties v. State of California (Department of Water Resources)


(S138975) – Whether an environmental impact report which fails to include critical information is legally sufficient.


Environmental Law


Metcalf v. County of San Joaquin


(S144831) – Whether, for a public entity to be liable for an injury caused by a hazardous condition on its property, the injured person must show the public entity wrongfully created the hazard.


Land Use and Zoning


**City of Goleta v. Superior Court


(S129125) – Whether a vesting tentative map approved by the county for land which later became incorporated as a city can then be denied final approval by the city.


City of Santa Monica v. Gonzalez


(S145571) – Whether a city’s failure to give proper notice to a property owner before the city repairs or abates a nuisance invalidates the appointment of a receiver to remedy the substandard condition of the owner’s property.


Whether a receiver appointed by the city is permitted to sell or demolish substandard improvements on a property when the owner wishes to use the improvements as his family residence.


Hernandez v. City of Hanford


(S143287) – Whether an ordinance limiting furniture sales to retail stores of a minimum size in a particular commercial zone violates the equal protection rights of small retail store owners. 


Manta Management Corporation v. City of San Bernardino


(S144492) – Whether an adult nightclub accused of allowing prostitution on its premises is entitled to be compensated by the city when the city obtains a preliminary injunction based on a zoning ordinance later declared unconstitutional.


*Muzzy Ranch Co. v. SolanoCountyAirportLand Use Commission


(S131484) – Whether, for the purpose of state environmental impact law, a county’s land use plan which relocates a housing development near an Air Force base constitutes a “project.”


Property Management


Action Apartment Association, Inc. v. City of Santa Monica


(S129448) – Whether a city ordinance limiting a landlord’s ability to evict a tenant is preempted by state law.


Cacho v. Boudreau


(S133378) – Whether a mobilehome park owner’s inclusion of property taxes in rent as a pass-through charge violates the Mobilehome Residency Law.  


Castaneda v. Olsher


(S138104) – Whether a mobilehome park owner has a duty to prevent the occurrence of criminal acts of gang violence on his premises when the owner has knowledge of prior gang violence on the premises.


Fashion Valley Mall, LLC v. National Labor Relations Board


(S144753) – Whether a shopping mall owner may enforce a rule allowing individuals to protest on mall property so long as they do not boycott tenants of the mall.


Property Tax


*City of Dinuba v. County of Tulare


(S143326) – Whether a county tax collector is immune to claims that it wrongfully withheld tax revenue from a local agency.


Mayer v. L & B Real Estate


(S142211) – Whether, after the county fails to provide an owner with a notice of tax sale, the one-year statute of limitations to set aside the tax deed was suspended until the owner became aware of the tax sale.


Public Utilities


*Sprint Telephony PCS v. County of San Diego


(S14554) – Whether a county is prevented from regulating the installation of wireless cellular facilities in a public right of way.


Recently Decided Cases


City of Goleta v. SuperiorCourtofSanta BarbaraCounty(2006) 40 C4th 270 [See Recent Case Decisions for the month of April]