Downey Brand LLP

Latest from Downey Brand LLP

It’s generally not easy to sue a deceased person’s estate in California. In most cases, claimants must file a creditor’s claim before proceeding with a lawsuit in the Superior Court, which may first require bringing a petition to open up probate of the decedent’s estate. Claimants must move quickly given the one-year statute of limitations under California Code of Civil Procedure section 366.2. In traffic accident situations, however, the claimant has a streamlined procedural…
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) often seems to be the Congressional-stepchild; everyone knows that it deserves some attention but everyone is too busy with their favorite child.  Unfortunately, the Program is scheduled to expire in May and when it expires, the consequences can be dire.  Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters has been a long-time proponent of the Program and the changes that are necessary to keep it running and make it work…
Are six sibling co-trustees too many cooks in the kitchen? Many California trust disputes arise from disagreements among sibling co-trustees over how to administer Mom and Dad’s trust after the parents have passed. They all have a strong sense of what Mom and Dad wanted, but they don’t agree on what it was.  Thus, trust and estate litigators can be described as “sibling lawyers.” A recent appellate opinion illustrates such co-trustee conflict and shows the…
On January 3, 2019 the Natural Resources Agency (“Agency”) announced that the long awaited comprehensive amendments to the CEQA Guidelines are now in effect.  The last major update to the Guidelines was in the late 1990s.  As a result, the Agency and the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) had a significant amount of material to synthesize in preparing these amendments, including several legislative changes and over two decades of CEQA case law. The amendments…
If you answer yes to the questions below, you should carve out some time to participate in the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) next Public Private Partnership (P3) webinar: You are the non-federal sponsor of a federally authorized Corps project; The project construction cost exceeds $50M; The construction of the project includes a design, build, finance, operation and maintenance approach or some combination of these elements; The construction schedule will accelerate project delivery; The…
American courts (including our California state courts), in contrast to courts in England, do not typically award attorneys’ fees to a lawsuit’s “victor.”  There are, of course, exceptions to this so-called “American Rule.”  Among them is the “common fund” exception, which provides that one who incurs fees winning a lawsuit that creates a fund for others may require those passive beneficiaries to bear a fair share of the litigation costs.  As the word “fund” suggests,…
On December 18, 2018, the First Appellate District, in McCorkle v. St. Helena (A153238), affirmed the trial court’s denial of a Petition for Writ of Mandate challenging the City of St. Helena’s approval of a multi-dwelling residential development.  First, consistent with Public Resources Code section 21151 and interpreting case law, the court held that the City Council properly delegated to nonelected officials—the Planning Commission—the project’s design review.  Second, the court found that the City did…
Trust and estate litigation attorneys are “trusted advisors.”  Like estate planning attorneys and other professionals who help clients with wealth management, we are fixers who assist clients with navigating conflict relating to a trust or estate.  While we spar in the probate departments of the Superior Court of California, at the end of the day our main function is to advise clients so they can choose a resolution that fits their needs and is achievable…
San Diegans for Open Government v. City of San Diego – filed Dec. 27, 2018, publication ordered Jan. 15, 2019, Fourth District, Div. One The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court judgment upholding use of the “existing facilities” categorical exemption for a lease for a beachside amusement park, finding no unusual circumstances barring use of the exemption. The Petitioner, San Diegans for Open Government (SDOG), failed to demonstrate any causal connection between…
Mental capacity issues are commonplace in California trust and probate litigation.  Jonathan Canick, Ph.D., who spoke last year at the Sacramento Estate Planning Council on the subject of “Aging, Cognition and Capacity,” graciously offered to share his thoughts with us here. Dr. Canick has practiced neuropsychology for over 30 years. He is a member of the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at California Pacific Medical Center, an associate clinical professor, University of California, San…