Appeals and Writs

KMTG appellate attorneys capitalize on years of experience prosecuting and defending appeals in both federal and state appellate courts to guide clients efficiently and successfully through even the most complicated appellate proceedings. Our appellate and writ attorneys have the knowledge and experience to address every step of the appellate process, from the beginning stages of record preparation through briefing and oral argument. When the need for emergency stays or original writs arise and time is of the essence, we have the means and experience to pursue writ relief expeditiously and effectively.

KMTG attorneys have successfully represented clients at every level of the federal and state appellate courts including the California Courts of Appeal, the California Supreme Court, Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court.

KMTG’s breadth of appellate experience provides us the ability to analyze and present the most complex issues of law or fact presented on appeal. In addition, KMTG appellate and writ specialists are able to draw on the firms breadth of expertise in such substantive legal areas as water, environmental, labor and employment, education, real estate and land use, eminent domain, banking, corporate and business, construction, and complex litigation in handling any appeal.

Published Decisions

United States Supreme Court

Orff v. U.S. (2005) 545 U.S. 596: KMTG lawyers represented Westlands Water District in a suit alleging that the federal government had breached its contract with an irrigation district by reducing the allocation of water to the district. The Supreme Court decided the case on jurisdictional grounds, holding that the Reclamation Reform Act did not waive government’s sovereign immunity.

Nevada v. U.S. (1983) 463 U.S. 110: KMTG lawyers represented the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District in a challenge involving water rights on the Truckee River. In this case, the Supreme Court rejected claims of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Indians that a former court decision adjudicating water rights on the Truckee River, and upheld the prior decision as res judicata. This was a unanimous victory for the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District that preserved valuable water rights.

Federal Circuit Courts

Corales v. Bennet (9th Cir. 2009) 567 F.3d 554: KMTG lawyers represented the California School Boards Association as amicus curiae in a successful defense of school administrator immunity from federal lawsuits.

Westlands Water District v. U.S. Dept. of Interior (9th Cir. 2004) 376 F.3d 853: KMTG water lawyers represented water agencies in an action involving application of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) to Trinity River Restoration Program. The Ninth Circuit held that while NEPA review was adequate, the biological opinions for the program were contrary to the ESA.

PLANS, Inc. v. Sacramento City Unified School District (9th Cir. 2003) 319 F.3d 504: Current KMTG education lawyers represented Sacramento City Unified School District and Twin Rivers School District in a successful defense of the districts’ innovative Waldorf instruction methods in public schools.

Cole v. Oroville Union High School District (9th Cir. 2000) 228 F.3d 1092: Current KMTG education lawyers represented the Oroville Union High School District, and other associated defendants and appellants, successfully defending the school district’s decision not to allow graduates to deliver a sectarian invocation and proselytizing co-valedictorian speech.

California Supreme Court

Professional Engineers in California Government v. Schwarzenegger (2010) 50 Cal.4th 989: KMTG lawyers represented Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the State of California in cases filed by public employee unions challenging Governor Schwarzenegger’s executive orders furloughing California state employees. The California Supreme Court validated the furloughs of state employees based on the California Legislature’s ratification of Governor Schwarzenegger’s furlough plan.

In re Bay-Delta Programmatic Environmental Impact Report Coordinated Proceedings (2008) 43 Cal.4th 1143: KMTG lawyers represented several water agencies in an action where the California Supreme Court reviewed the final program environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (PEIS/R) on the CALFED Bay-Delta Program for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Court reversed the Court of Appeal and concluded that the PEIS/R complied with CEQA. Among other holdings, the Court concluded that the agencies were not required to consider an alternative for reduced exports of water.

Wells v. One2One Learning Foundation (2006) 39 Cal.4th 1164: KMTG represented Camptonville Union Elementary School District before the California Supreme Court. The Court held that state and local government agencies, including public school districts, may not be sued under the California False Claims Act.

California Court of Appeal

City of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 1159: KMTG appeared as amicus counsel for the League of California Cities in an action brought by public employee unions against the City of Los Angeles seeking to compel arbitration of the City’s decision to furlough its employees. The League of California Cities argued, as amicus in support of the City of Los Angeles, that arbitration of the City’s decision to furlough its employees would constitute an improper delegation of the City’s municipal power. The Second District Court of Appeal held that any requirement to arbitrate employee grievances regarding furloughs was an improper delegation of the City’s budgeting and salary-setting discretion and authority. The Supreme Court has accepted review in this matter and KMTG will represent the League of California Cities and the California Association of Counties in the California Supreme Court.

Union of American Physicians and Dentists v. Brown (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 691: In a follow up case to Professional Engineers, KMTG lawyers represented Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and the State of California in an action challenging the application of the State of California’s furlough program to employees working in agencies receiving federal funds. In this published decision, the First District Court of Appeal ruled that the furlough program did not violate a state statute prohibiting any transfer of funds that would interfere with a special fund’s object and validated both the third furlough day and the furlough of federally funded employees.

Service Employees International Union, Local 1000 v. Brown (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 252: In yet another follow-up case to Professional Engineers, KMTG lawyers represented Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and the State of California in an action challenging the application of the State of California’s furlough program to state employees working in “specially funded” agencies. In this published decision, the First District Court of Appeal validated the furlough program for any state agency or department with one or more items of appropriation in the budget and ruled that the Legislature validated three unpaid furlough days per month by passing the 2009 Budget Act.

California Correctional Peace Officers Association v. State of California (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 646: KMTG lawyers represented the State of California and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in a class action brought by the State’s correctional officers’ union alleging that its members were being denied meal and rest breaks. The First District Court of Appeal ruled that the meal and rest period statutes contained in the California Labor Code, as well as the corresponding provisions contained in the Industrial Welfare Commission’s Wage Orders, were inapplicable to public employers.

California Correctional Peace Officers Association v. State of California (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 849: KMTG lawyers represented the State of California and the Department of Personnel Administration in a challenge brought by the State’s correctional officers’ union to the alternative work schedules used by the State of California. The First District Court of Appeal ruled that the State of California is permitted to use alternative work schedules for its correctional officers that are authorized under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act without incurring overtime liability.

Sonoma County Water Coalition v. Sonoma County Water Agency (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 33: KMTG lawyers represented the Association of California Water Agencies, League of California Cities, and California State Association of Counties as Amici Curiae on behalf of the Sonoma County Water Agency in a case affirming the legal adequacy of the Agency’s 2005 Urban Water Management Plan (the Plan). The Plan had been successfully challenged by the Sonoma County Water Coalition in the trial court, which issued a writ of mandate enjoining the Agency from adopting or implementing the Plan, and directing the Agency to adopt a legally adequate plan. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court failed to accord deference to the expertise and discretion of the Agency, improperly made de novo determinations, and imposed procedural requirements not found in the Urban Water Management Planning Act, Water Code, section 10610, et seq. The court ruled reviewing courts should defer to an urban water agency’s expertise in projecting long-term water supply availability from existing and planned future water sources. The decision also confirmed that the presence of endangered fish species and other environmental regulatory factors do not necessarily require a water agency to reduce or discount projections of long-term water supply availability, so long as the projections account for such environmental factors and are supported by substantial evidence.

California Water Impact Network v. Newhall County Water District (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 1465: KMTG lawyers represented the Association of California Water Agencies as Amicus Curiae on behalf of the Newhall County Water District in an action brought by an environmental group challenging a water supply assessment (WSA) prepared for a proposed land development project. The Court of Appeal found that a WSA is a technical informational document and not a “final” act or determination subject to direct mandamus review; the City had the authority to address the plaintiff’s claims concerning the WSA’s alleged overstatement of water supply availability; and until the City completed California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review and approved the land development project, the adequacy of the WSA was not subject to judicial challenge. The appellate decision confirmed that a water agency’s approval of a WSA is not subject to challenge separate from, and prior to, the local land-use agency’s completion of the CEQA review and approval process.

Bledsoe v. Biggs Unified Sch. Dist. (2008) 170 Cal.App.4th 127: KMTG lawyers represented Biggs Unified School District in a challenge brought by the Biggs Unified Teachers Association and an employee who was part of the school district’s layoff. KMTG lawyers successfully defended the school district’s reduction in force, which included “skipping” less senior teachers in front of the Third District Court of Appeal.

O.W.L. Foundation v. City Rohnert Park (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 568: KMTG lawyers represented the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties as Amici Curiae on behalf of the City of Rohnert Park in a case brought by an environmental interest group challenging the groundwater sufficiency analysis contained in a water supply assessment (WSA) prepared by the City of Rohnert Park pursuant to Water Code section 10910. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment granting the plaintiff a writ of mandate, holding that a WSA that cites groundwater as a sufficient source of supply to serve new urban development need not analyze groundwater pumping by all users in an entire basin. The appellate court also ruled that Water Code section 10910 did not specify a particular methodology for a sufficiency analysis and in that respect affords the water supplier substantial discretion in determining how to measure groundwater sufficiency. The Court of Appeal ruled that while that discretion is not boundless, the City acted well within its discretion in adopting the WSA.

El Dorado Irr. Dist. v. State Water Resources Control Bd. (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 937: KMTG lawyers represented Westlands Water District in a case in which the court concluded that the State Water Resources Control Board’s imposition of a condition on a water rights permit did not violate county of origin and area of origin statutes in California Water Code. Additionally, the court concluded that area of origin priority did not apply to stored Central Valley Project water.

State Water Resources Control Bd. Cases (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 674: KMTG lawyers represented Westlands Water District in this case reviewing State Water Resources Control Board Decision 1641 regarding amendments to water rights issued for Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project. The court made numerous rulings, including that CVP water contractors are entitled to the protection from injury afforded by California Water Code section 1702, that the amendments did not violate area of origin laws, and that the State Water Resources Control Board must balance among public trust uses and other uses of water.

Woodbury v. Brown-Dempsey (2003) 108 Cal.App.4th 421: KMTG lawyers represented the Board of Trustees of the Morongo Unified School District in a case in which the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the District and held that the issuance of subpoenas during student expulsion hearings is not mandatory upon request.

Southgate Recreation & Park District v. California Association for Park and Recreation Insurance (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 293: When a member agency of the CAPRI liability risk pool ran out of funds to complete a construction project, it sought coverage from the risk pool for the claims filed by its unpaid subcontractors and suppliers. KMTG lawyers successfully persuaded the Court of Appeal that the CAPRI liability risk pool members did not intend to cover construction contract claims when they wrote their risk-pooling agreement, and that there was no coverage for the claims of the subcontractors and suppliers on the project.

Jahr v. Casebeer (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 1250: Current KMTG lawyers represented County Counsel for Shasta County in a case brought by organized labor seeking to set county supervisor salaries by local ballot initiative. The California Supreme Court held that the California Constitution (specifically, article XI, section 1(b)) does not permit voters to use the initiative process to set county supervisor salaries.

Texas Producing, Inc., et al v. County of Kern (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 1029: Current KMTG lawyers represented the County of Kern and the County of Kern Assessor’s office in a case brought by Texaco Producing, Inc. challenging the appraisal methods used by the Kern County Assessor and the appraised value of the oil producing property owned by Texaco. KMTG prevailed before the Fifth District Court of Appeals, saving Kern County and the County of Kern Assessor’s Office approximately $3.5 billion.

Orange County Water District v. ACWA JPIA (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 772: KMTG lawyers successfully represented the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority in both the trial and appellate courts against a general contractor’s insurer’s claim that risk-pool funds should respond to an insured loss as “other insurance.” The Court of Appeal held that risk-pool funds are not “insurance” and that the general contractor’s insurer must pay the loss.

Olsen v. Breeze, Inc. (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 608: KMTG lawyers successfully represented snow-skiing equipment manufacturers at both the trial and appellate court levels against claims brought by an alleged class of recreational skiers seeking to enjoin the use of pre-injury releases in ski-equipment installation and servicing transactions. The Court of Appeal rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that such releases violated public policy and/or the Unfair Business Practices Act (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq.).

County of Los Angeles v. Sasaki (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1442; San Miguel Consol. Fire P. Dist. v. Davis (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 134: Current KMTG lawyers successfully represented community colleges and school districts in Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Marin counties on behalf of the California School Boards Association Education Legal Alliance in constitutional cases challenging the multi-billion dollar State property tax shift in favor of public schools.

Tenneco West v. County of Kern (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 596: Current KMTG lawyers represented the County of Kern and the County of Kern Assessor in the appeal of an equalization hearing, and resultant trial, involving the assessment of mineral rights and underground gas storage rights in Kern County, California. The Fifth District upheld the decisions of the County of Kern assessor on each point of law and fact.