Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, November 9, 2022


Page 1


Court of Appeal:

Appeal From Writ Denial Belonged in Appellate Division

Opinion Says Challenge to Fine, Under $25,000, Pursuant to Ordinance, Is Limited Jurisdiction Case


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Court of Appeal for this district, applying syllogistic reasoning, held yesterday that the Appellate Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court erred in rejecting a notice of appeal from a decision denying a writ of administrative mandamus in a dispute over a $1,000 fine for alleged violations of city ordinances governing the condition of real property.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Albert T. Harutunian III, sitting on assignment to Div. Eight, wrote:

“The appellate division of the superior court has jurisdiction over appeals in limited civil cases. This is a limited civil case. As such, the appellate division has jurisdiction over this matter. We do not.”

The appeals panel shunted the case to the Appellate Division which, in bouncing the notice of appeal, said:

“The appellate division does not have jurisdiction over appeals regarding administrative hearings.  Please see local Rule, 2.7.”

That rule says that the division handles “[a]ppeals from judgments and orders in misdemeanor, infraction, and limited civil cases (except small claims cases), from anywhere in the County.”

Classification of Case

When Dedication and Everlasting Love to Animals, Inc. sought a writ of mandate in the Superior Court direction that fines imposed by the City of El Monte based on the condition of a vacant lot owned by DELTA, it was denominated a limited jurisdiction case, inasmuch as the amount in controversy was less than $25,000.

In support of his major premise—that the Appellate Division decides appeals from limited jurisdiction cases, Harutunian cited Code of Civil Procedure §904.2(e) which says: “An appeal of a ruling by a superior court judge or other judicial officer in a limited civil case is to the appellate division of the superior court.”

Minor Premise

To validate the minor premise—that “[t]his is a limited civil case”—he cited Government Code §52069.4(b)(1). That provision says that an appeal from a “final administrative order or decision of the local agency…pursuant to an ordinance enacted in accordance with this section regarding the imposition, enforcement, or collection of the administrative fines or penalties…is a limited civil case.”

Harutunian said:

“The case before us was an appeal from an administrative hearing under section 52069.4; it had an amount in controversy of less than $25,000; and it was designated a limited civil matter from the outset. 

“Accordingly, it is a limited civil case.”

In determining that the proper procedure is to transfer the case to the Appellate Division, the visiting jurist pointed to Government Code §68915 which specifies:

 “No appeal taken to the Supreme Court or to a court of appeal shall be dismissed for the reason only that the same was not taken to the proper court, but the cause shall be transferred to the proper court upon such terms as to costs or otherwise as may be just, and shall be proceeded with therein, as if regularly appealed thereto.”

The case is Dedication and Everlasting Love to Animals, Inc. v. City of El Monte, 2022 B318078.

Attorneys on appeal were Drew E. Pomerance and Vincent S. Gannuscio of Roxborough, Pomerance, Nye & Adreani for the landowner and Terence J. Gallagher and Leslie Anne Burnet of Olivarez Madruga Law Organization for the city.


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