• Are You Set Up to Protect Your CEQA Exempt Project?

    Posted June 15, 2012 By in Recent News With | No Comments

    New Case Update: Tomlinson v. County of Alameda – Are You Set Up to Protect Your CEQA Exempt Projects?

    In the recent opinion of Tomlinson v. County of Alameda (June 14, 2012) 2012 Cal. Lexis 5261, the California Supreme Court addressed the question of whether a party must exhaust administrative remedies before it may challenge a public entity’s decision that a project is exempt under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).

    The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies requires that a party raise its concerns regarding a proposed project before the project is approved by the public entity. If a party does not raise its concerns before the project is approved, the party may be barred from raising its concerns in court.

    In Tomlinson, the California Supreme Court held that if a party was given an opportunity to raise its concerns about a proposed project considered exempt from CEQA at a public hearing prior to project approval then the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies does apply.

    The Court’s decision is a major departure from the majority of prior appellate decisions that had held that a party does not need to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to challenging a public entity’s decision that a project is exempt. As such, it is likely that your entity does not have the proper procedures in place to take advantage of the protections afforded by the Tomlinson opinion.

    Should you like more information on how your entity can implement the holding in the Tomlinson decision to better protect your projects from CEQA challenges, please contact Brian J. Bergman at (310) 470-6110 or bbergman@bdgfirm.com.

  • Recent Results (April 2012)

    Posted March 29, 2012 By in Recent Results With | No Comments

    The results mentioned are representative and do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.

    EMPLOYMENT LITIGATION

    1. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a southern California City in an action brought by a retired Finance Officer alleging a single claim of whistleblower retaliation pursuant to Section 1102.5 of the California Labor Code. Recognizing that the vast majority of the retiree’s claims did not constitute violations of state or federal law—the necessary predicate under Section 1102.5—and that many of his other claims of retaliation failed to constitute adverse employment actions as a matter of law, Bergman Dacey Goldsmith took the former employee’s deposition and drafted a comprehensive motion for summary judgment, which was subsequently granted by the Court. By employing our expertise in employment law, and specifically in whistleblower retaliation claims, not only did Bergman Dacey Goldsmith terminate the former employee’s case, but we were able to recoup an award of incurred costs to offset some of the City’s costs in defending this matter to a successful end. In the end, the entire cost of disposing of this case constituted less than 10% of the damages claimed, with the employee owing costs to the City.
    2. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a southern California City in an action brought by a terminated police officer alleging various Constitutional claims and discrete violations of the California Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act in conjunction with his termination. After investigating the claims and confirming that California law strongly protects public entities against claims brought on the facts particular to this matter, Bergman Dacey Goldsmith – before even incurring the expense of filing a responsive pleading – negotiated an early resolution so that the City could avoid incurring any significant litigation fees or costs. The combined effect of Bergman Dacey Goldsmith’s expertise of the applicable law, combined with deft negotiation skills, resulted in a resolution of the matter for a de minimis sum compared to the anticipated damage claim. Such sum constituted a mere fraction of the fees and costs that would have been incurred by the City had this matter proceeded to litigation and trial.
    3. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a fast food restaurant and its owner in a lawsuit filed by a former employee who alleged eleven causes of action, including wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, fraudulent concealment, unfair business practices, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith quickly obtained all relevant documents related to the claims, evaluated the merit of the claims, and was able to negotiate a settlement, the value of which was 30% of the former employee’s original demand. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith’s efficient handling also significantly reduced the legal expenses incurred by the client.

    FACILITIES AND CONSTRUCTION LITIGATION

    Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a school district (“District”) in an enforcement of a stop notice action related to a multi-million dollar school modernization project filed against it by a subcontractor. Due to circumstances not within the control of the District, the subcontractor alleged that it was not paid by the general contractor and sought to enforce a stop notice against the District. At minimal litigation expense to the District, Bergman Dacey Goldsmith was able to negotiate and procure the dismissal of the District from the subcontractor’s lawsuit without the District having to expend any funds to settle the matter.

    TEACHER DISMISSAL

    1. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represents a large southern California school district in a teacher dismissal action. When the teacher attempted to modify his pled affirmative defenses merely days before the discovery cutoff, Bergman Dacey Goldsmith filed a motion to continue the hearing for good cause to conduct discovery on the newly pled defenses. When the tribunal denied the motion, Bergman Dacey Goldsmith immediately drafted and filed ex parte papers with the Los Angeles Superior Court to stay the dismissal matter, and then commenced a writ proceeding to obtain an order from the Superior Court compelling the underlying tribunal to provide the school district with more time to conduct discovery. The Superior Court issued a writ of mandate providing the school district with all of its requested relief. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith’s responsiveness preserved the status quo in the lower tribunal, while safeguarding the school district’s procedural rights, ultimately assisting the school district with its preparation for the dismissal hearing itself.
    2. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a large southern California school district in a teacher dismissal action. The teacher was accused of unprofessional conduct and other related charges. Because the district’s case was built around circumstantial evidence, Bergman Dacey Goldsmith immediately began interviewing key witnesses and assembling as strong an evidentiary position to bring into a settlement conference with the accused teacher. Once presented with this evidence, the teacher conceded her case and agreed to resign in exchange for a modest settlement payment as consideration. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith’s responsiveness and litigation planning kept the district far ahead of the teacher and her counsel as the dismissal hearing approached, and ensured that the ultimate goal—the teacher’s separation—was achieved at modest expense.

    BUSINESS LITIGATION

    1. A worldwide financial firm retained Bergman Dacey Goldsmith on the Friday before the 3-day Christmas weekend to file a lawsuit and obtain a temporary restraining order against one of its former branch managers, who had recently resigned without notice and gone to work for a competitor. The former branch manager was accused of having misappropriated confidential and trade secret information by e-mailing it to his home computer, and then using that information to solicit the client’s customers and employees. Working through the holiday weekend, the lawyers at Bergman Dacey Goldsmith interviewed the key witnesses and marshaled the available evidence, drafted the necessary complaint, researched the applicable law, prepared an application for a TRO and Order to Show Cause re Preliminary Injunction together with supporting documents to present the relevant evidence and the controlling legal authorities, and–within 5 days of being retained—went to court to present the TRO application to a judge. Upon considering the TRO application and the supporting papers, the court issued an immediate restraining order by which the former branch manager was prohibited from initiating contact with the client’s customers or employees and was directed to make all of his electronic devices capable of storing information available for inspection and cleansing within a week. The former branch manager was also ordered to return to the client, within a week, all confidential or trade secret information he had taken.
    2. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a private defendant in a collection matter. This matter involved thousands of dollars, as well as the collector’s persistent efforts to recover the interest and penalties associated with the alleged amount owed. After months of intense negotiations with the collector, the matter was settled for an amount that did not include penalties and/or interest on the amount owed, both costs the client could have owed if the matter proceeded to trial.

    CLASS ACTION LITIGATION

    Bergman Dacey Goldsmith defended a Southern California City in a class action lawsuit where the Plaintiff alleged that the City had failed to provide the proper amount of time to contest parking citations for years, thereby causing numerous individuals to be improperly charged late fees on parking citations. The City’s potential exposure was in the millions of dollars. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith attorneys aggressively litigated the mater to set up favorable settlement negotiations. Through Bergman Dacey Goldsmith’s litigation and negotiation efforts the City settled the matter for approximately 1% of its potential liability exposure. Further, after settlement was achieved, Bergman Dacey Goldsmith was able to cost effectively manage the terms of the class action settlement, including all required class action notice and payment procedures.

  • Daily Journal: “Dismissing a Teacher is Not Easy – the Process School Districts Must Follow”

    Posted March 16, 2012 By in Recent News With | No Comments

    In recent weeks, the media has flooded us with news of teachers being removed from classrooms and fired by school boards. The public, however, may have little knowledge of the cumbersome or complex process that is involved in a teacher dismissal action. On March 12, 2012, the attached article was published in the Daily Journal, written by our shareholder Michele M. Goldsmith, describing the process and pitfalls to the current procedures under the California Education Code.

    Also, Larry Mantle’s AirTalk, on KPCC 89.3, featured Michele in the segment “Can a teacher be fired for being a former porn actor?” Michele and Larry discussed the standards of teacher dismissal actions and “immoral” conduct as a cause for dismissal, specifically in the context of an Oxnard teacher who appeared in an adult film that was obtained by and watched by district students, parents and teachers. To listen to this KPCC program, please go to Larry Mantle’s AirTalk.

    Michele has a varied and extensive practice for both private and public clients, focusing on labor and employment matters. She litigates employment matters in both State and Federal Court. She also represents public agencies, including school districts, in certificated and classified personnel appeal hearings, before hearing officers and at the Office of Administrative Hearings. Many clients look to her to represent their interests in labor negotiations.

    Bergman Dacey Goldsmith is a full service law firm founded in 1983 on the premise that serving our clients’ needs is paramount. We provide personalized and cost-effective service to multiple California public entities and school districts, Fortune 500 corporations, and individual clients. Our unique attention to our clients distinguishes Bergman Dacey Goldsmith from other law firms. We have earned our reputation as a “no surprises” law firm.

    For further information regarding Michele, our firm, and what we can do to help you through the teacher dismissal process, please visit our website at www.bdgfirm.com or contact us at any time.

      Dismissing a Teacher is Not Easy – the Process School Districts Must Follow

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