Those of you who closely followed the heavy trial-level activity post-Prop. 64 may remember a significant ruling on Prop. 64 standing in a group of 13 cases that were pending before Judge Ronald M. Sabraw when Prop. 64 passed (see this blog post for more). In Center for Biological Disversity, Inc. v. FPL Group, Inc., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Sept. 19, 2008), the Court of Appeal (First Appellate District, Division Three) reviewed a later ruling of Judge Sabraw in one of those cases.
The case sought to employ the UCL to enforce the "public trust doctrine" against operators of wind turbine electricity generators in the Altamont Pass. Slip op. 3-4. The opinion interprets the public trust doctrine quite broadly (id. at 8-17), but concludes that any claim for breach of the public trust must be brought against the appropriate regulatory agency or governmental body (id. at 17-22). The opinion goes on to hold that, even were a UCL action against the turbine operators appropriate, the court should decline to entertain it under the doctrine of equitable absention and should "defer to the regulatory oversight being provided by public authorities." Id. at 22-25.