California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1094.5
"Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5 governs judicial review of a . . . decision by an administrative agency if the law required a hearing, the taking of evidence, and the discretionary determination of facts by the agency. (Id., subd. (a).)
The petitioner must show that the agency acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, did not afford a fair trial, or prejudicially abused its discretion. (Id., subd. (b).)
An abuse of discretion is shown if the agency did not proceed in the manner required by law, the decision is not supported by the findings, or the findings are not supported by the evidence. (Ibid.)" (Pedro v. City of Los Angeles (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 87, 98-99.)
Where, as here, a fundamental vested right is not involved, we review the administrative agency's decision, not the trial court's decision. (Eskeland v. City of Del Mar (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 936, 941-942; accord, Ogundare v. Department of Industrial Relations (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 822, 828-829.)
We apply the substantial evidence standard, "'resolving all conflicts in the evidence and drawing all inferences in support of'" the agency's findings. (Ogundare, supra, at p. 829.) However, "with respect to questions of law, 'we are not bound by any legal interpretation made by the administrative agency or the trial court. Instead, we make an independent review of any questions of law necessary to the resolution of this matter on appeal.' " (Eskeland, supra, at p. 942.)
A line of California cases holds that if an administrative tribunal renders a quasi-judicial decision that could be challenged by administrative mandamus under Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5, a failure to pursue that remedy may collaterally estop a federal civil rights action.
This "is a form of res judicata, of giving collateral estoppel effect to the administrative agency's decision, because that decision has achieved finality due to the aggrieved party's failure to pursue the exclusive judicial remedy for reviewing administrative action."
(1) Briggs v. City of Rolling Hills Estates (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 637, 646;
(2) Westlake Community Hospital v. Superior Court (1976) 17 Cal.3d 465;
(3) Johnson v. City of Loma Linda (2000) 24 Cal.4th 61, 72.
"The theory of these issue-preclusion cases . . . is that when a state agency acting in a proceeding in a judicial capacity resolves disputed issues of fact properly before it which the parties have had adequate opportunity to litigate, federal courts must give the agency's fact-finding the same preclusive effect it would have in state courts." (McDaniel v. Board of Education (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 1618.)