Fearing an infinite number of lawsuits challenging the issuance of High-Speed Rail bonds, the California High-Speed Rail Authority filed an arcane legal maneuver in the Sacramento Superior Court, seeking to force anyone wanting to sue to put up or shut up. The maneuver is called a Validation Suit. After the Authority has filed its Opening Brief, it asks all persons that are interested in challenging the issuance of bonds to come forward to file an Objection. After the Authority files a reply brief, the Court will then rule on whether challenges to the issuance of bonds are forever banned.
An especially fascinating aspect to this validation suit is that the defendants are identified as “All Persons Interested in the Matter of the Validity of the Authorization and Issuance of General Obligation Bonds to be Issued Pursuant to the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century, and Certain Proceedings and Matters Related Thereto.”
Interestingly, the Authority asserts that a validation ruling will not affect the ability of a taxpayers’ suit to challenge the expenditure of bond funds.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority filed a Validation Suit, seeking to smoke out all potential parties that would want to sue to block the issuance of Proposition 1A HSR rail bonds. The Court issued an Order for Publication of Summons, commanding all potential litigants to notify the Court of their interest.
Then the Authority filed its Opening Brief.
Defendants then filed opposition briefs explaining why the Court should not bar future challenges to bond issuance.
The plaintiffs in the Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority case filed these papers in opposition:
Declaration of Rita Wespi
Declaration of Kathy Hamilton
Declaration of Stuart Flashman
Request for Judicial Notice
(Many highly technical procedural motions were also filed, but they are not significant, now that their claims have been resolved.)
The Tos plaintiffs later filed a joinder, seeking to halt the validation litigation until the issue of CEQA preemption is resolved by the Court of Appeal. The plaintiffs joined the strategically brilliant Kings County Water District motion that asserts that if CEQA is ruled to not apply to the HSR project, that project cannot receive bond funds, and therefore, no bonds should be issued. At a minimum, therefore, the validation suit should wait until a decision comes down in the appeal.
The Authority filed a Reply Brief, attempting to invalidate all the papers that had been filed in opposition.
A hearing was held on September 27 in Sacramento. On November 25, 2013 the Court issued its ruling denying the request for validation on the grounds that the Finance Committee that approved the issuance of bonds had rubber-stamped the request for issuance from the Authority. It had not independently determined that the issuance of bonds was “necessary or desirable.”
This ruling was appealed by an Extraordinary Writ petition to the Supreme Court, and ultimately overturned. The lower court was directed to issue an order validating the issuance of bonds.