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  • Writer's pictureSteve Morasse

Conditional Refunds Offered After Expiration of Notice Period may not be Subject to Requirements

Hill RHF Housing Partners, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles (2021) 12 Cal.5th 458

Daneshmand v. City of San Juan Capistrano (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 923 [Fybel, Aronson, and Goethals]

In Daneshmand, the Plaintiffs, sought to collect partial refunds through a refund program for ratepayers from the City of San Juan Capistrano, after the City imposed tiered water rates that violated Proposition 218. The City offered to refund its ratepayers in exchange for a release of all other claims against the City relating to tiered water rates. The Trial Court found that the Plaintiffs who signed the release and then collected the refunds were then bound by the releases. They also held that the Plaintiffs who did not sign the releases were barred by the one-year notice provision of the Government Claims Act.

On appeal, the Plaintiffs that did not sign the releases argued that the City acted inconsistently, and thereby waived the one-year notice requirement, when the City provided refunds to some rate-payers after the one-year notice provision expired; however, the Court of Appeal disagreed. The Court of Appeal explained that the refunds were only provided outside the notice period for ratepayers that applied for the City's Refund Program and signed the required release. In addition, the refunds were denied in a consistent manner for those that did not participate in the refund program or sign the releases. Accordingly, the Court held that this was not inconsistent with an intention to enforce the notice period for those who did not participate in the Refund Program, because the Refund Program was separate from the standard process by which government claims are served and resolved.

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