Hanson Bridgett Secures Major Sixth District Appellate Victory

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November 2, 2021 (San Francisco, CA)Hanson Bridgett LLP, partners, Andrew Bassak and Christopher Rheinheimer secured a major victory with the Sixth District Court of Appeal upholding a 2017 trial court win from Monterey Superior Court for firm client, Aera Energy, LLC (“Aera Energy”). Bassak and Rheinheimer also represented co-lead Plaintiff, Aera Energy in the underlying action, which involved a four-day combined mandate and takings trial of six consolidated cases to avoid a regulatory taking of oil and gas operations valued in excess of $1 billion.

The decision of the trial court was to invalidate, on constitutional and other grounds, Monterey County Measure Z, a voter-approved ballot measure designed to end oil and gas production in Monterey as a “pretextual attempt” by the ballot measure proponents “to do indirectly what it [the county] cannot do directly,” the appeals court said. The Sixth District upheld the decision finding that the state has authority over all practices that “increase the recovery of oil and gas.”

"Measure Z is not a local zoning ordinance that simply regulates the location of oil drilling operations. Instead it bans particular methods and practices," the appeals court said. Thus, “Measure Z forbids the state from permitting certain methods and practices while [the state statute at issue] encourages those methods and practices and mandates that the State be the entity deciding whether to permit [said] methods and practices.”

Bassak is a partner in the firm’s litigation section with 30 years of experience in devising and executing comprehensive legal strategies for clients in complex, high-stakes cases. Bassak regularly resolves disputes arising from actions and inactions by federal, state, and local governmental bodies, both in administrative proceedings and in the courts. He advises and represents clients who are key players in industries such as real estate, energy, senior care, and financial services, among others.

Rheinheimer is a partner in the firm’s Real Estate and Environment section. Rheinheimer is a versatile trial lawyer who has litigated a wide variety of complex cases in state and federal court, through private arbitration, and before regulatory agencies. He represents and advises clients in environmental, energy, and real estate-related matters, including representation of leading energy companies, business operators, and numerous real estate owners, developers, and investors. Rheinheimer also regularly represents clients in land use and CEQA litigation.

Bassak and Rheinheimer have deep and sophisticated experience in protecting and advancing property owners’ interests where third parties attempt to interfere with property owners’ rights. In addition to their significant experience successfully challenging voter initiatives in court, they regularly defend development projects from CEQA challenges.

The case is Chevron USA Inc. et al. v. County of Monterey (C.A. 6th; Oct. 12, 2021; H045791 __ Cal.App.5th __ [205 C.D.O.S 10548]).

About Hanson Bridgett LLP

Founded in 1958, Hanson Bridgett is a multidisciplinary AmLaw law firm with 190 attorneys throughout California. Our clients range from multinational Fortune 500 corporations to individuals which we serve in transactions around the world. We are a certified B Corp and are socially responsible members of our communities. Our firm is driven by a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; charitable giving; pro bono legal work; and hands-on service.

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