California Court of Appeals, First District, Third Division
Superior Court of Alameda County No. RG13708526 Trial Judge:
Michael M. Markman, J.
Offices of Craig S. Steinberg and Craig S. Steinberg for
Plaintiffs and Appellants.
for Legal Affairs, Francisco J. Silva and Long X. Do for
California Medical Association as Amicus Curiæ on
behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.
Becerra, Attorney General, Linda Schneider, Assistant
Attorney General, Diann Sokoloff and Gregory Tuss, Deputy
Attorneys General, for Defendant and Respondent.
an appeal from judgment after the trial court denied the
petition for writ of mandate filed by plaintiffs Anthony
Rudick, O.D., and Ridge Eye Care, Inc. (Ridge) and granted
summary judgment in favor of defendant State Board of
Optometry (Board) and against plaintiffs on their related
complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. On appeal,
plaintiffs seek reversal of the judgment and entry of an
order directing the trial court to find in their favor on the
ground that the trial court erroneously interpreted the
applicable statutory law. We affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
December 23, 2013, plaintiffs filed a combined verified
petition for writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory
and injunctive relief against the Board challenging its
denial of an application for a statement of licensure
submitted by Rudick. Plaintiffs' challenge arises from
the following set of undisputed facts.
is a licensed optometrist with his principal place of
practice in the Town of Paradise. Rudick is also a 49-percent
owner, director, and the vice-president of Ridge. Ridge, a
“medical corporation” under the Moscone-Knox
Professional Corporation Act (Moscone-Knox) (Corp. Code,
§ 13400 et seq.), has four office locations, including
in the towns of Paradise and Magalia. Joel Isaac Barthelow,
M.D., a licensed physician who practices ophthalmology, is
the majority owner, president, and a director of Ridge. Ridge
employs both ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide a
broad range of professional eye care services to its
patients. More specifically, Ridge employs optometrists (one
of whom is Rudick) at each of its four locations, who
practice optometry as defined by Business and Professions
Code section 3041. While the practices of ophthalmology
and optometry overlap in certain regards, there are critical
differences, including the fact that only ophthalmologists
and not optometrists are authorized to perform surgery and to
prescribe certain medications. (See, e.g.,
§§ 3041, 2052.) In addition, ophthalmologists,
unlike optometrists, may treat conditions beyond the eye and
its immediately surrounding tissues.
November 2011, Rudick submitted an application for statement
of licensure with the requisite fees to the Board for
Ridge's Magalia location, identifying himself as the
employer of the Magalia location and the Town of Paradise as
his principal place of practice. On April 25, 2012, the Board
denied Rudick's application. In its letter of denial, the
Board explained: “Your application for Statement of
Licensure was rejected because you list yourself as the
principal employer at the location. In your letter you state
that you are 49% shareholder in the business. Per BPC
[section] 3077 you need to submit a Branch Office License
application if you have a financial interest in that
location.” Rudick and Ridge thereafter brought this
lawsuit to challenge the Board's decision.
January 28, 2016, the trial court denied plaintiffs'
petition for writ of mandate, finding “[i]t is
reasonable for the Board to deny the request for a Statement
of Licensure when the applicant for the Statement of
Licensure is required to obtain a Branch Office License, as
otherwise the applicant could be disinclined to obtain the
required Branch Office License.” The parties then filed
cross-motions for summary judgment with respect to
plaintiffs' complaint, which were heard on February 14,
March 20, 2017, the trial court granted the Board's
motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiffs' motion
for the same, finding that the Board properly determined
Rudick must comply with the branch office licensing
requirements in section 3077 for his practice at Ridge's
Magalia office since his principal place of practice was in
Paradise. Judgment was thus entered in favor of the Board and
against plaintiffs on June 14, 2017, prompting this appeal.
lawsuit arises out of the licensing application submitted by
Rudick to the Board with respect to his practice of optometry
at a location other than his principal place of practice,
specifically, at Ridge's Magalia location. In California,
the practice of optometry is governed by the Optometry
Practice Act (Act) (§ 3000 et seq.). The Board is the
state agency charged with enforcing the Act. (§ 3010.5.)
On appeal, we are asked to address two issues relating to the
proper interpretation of two of the Act's provisions,
sections 3070 and 3077. First, we must decide whether the
trial court properly ruled in favor of the Board and against
plaintiffs on summary judgment after upholding the
Board's decision not to issue Rudick a statement of
licensure under section 3070 and to instead require him to
obtain a branch office license under section 3077 for his
practice at the Magalia location or face disciplinary action.
Second, we turn to whether the trial court properly denied
plaintiffs' petition for writ of mandate after finding
the Board had no mandatory duty under section 3070 to issue
Rudick a statement of licensure upon receipt of his
application and the applicable fees.
parties agree both issues before the court are purely legal
issues and are therefore subject to de novo review.
(Imperial Merchant Services, Inc. v. Hunt (2009) 47
Cal.4th 381, 387.) Accordingly, we apply the following rules.
“Under settled canons of statutory construction, in
construing a statute we ascertain the Legislature's
intent in order to effectuate the law's purpose.
[Citation.] We must look to the statute's words and give
them ‘their usual and ordinary meaning.'
[Citation.] ‘The statute's plain meaning controls
the court's interpretation unless its words are
ambiguous.' [Citations.] ‘If the statutory language
permits more ...