Category Archives: Lawsuits

Rex Schellenberg v. City Of Los Angeles — In September 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging Summary Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of An Elderly Disabled Homeless Man — And Seeking An Injunction Against These Practices — For Some Reason This Has Not Been Covered At All In The Media — Read The Initial Complaint Here

On September 3, 2018 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court against the City of Los Angeles, alleging that Rex Schellenberg, a homeless man living in the San Fernando Valley, stepped away from his property briefly only to have it confiscated and much of it destroyed by the LAPD and LA Sanitation personnel. I can’t find anything about this case in the media, in contrast to Sobel’s other pending case on the matter, Mitchell v. City of LA, which is covered extensively. You can read and get copies of the pleadings here on Archive.Org. I’ll update the collection as more stuff is filed.

The facts of the case are simple. Schellenberg, an elderly man homeless in Los Angeles for more than twenty years and disabled as well, lives in the San Fernando Valley. In July 2017 he left his property momentarily unattended to visit a convenience store and employees of the City of Los Angeles summarily confiscated and destroyed Schellenberg’s neatly stored possessions. In its monumental decision in Lavan v. City of LA, the Ninth Circuit had this to say about this practice:

As we have repeatedly made clear, “[t]he government may not take property like a thief in the night; rather, it must announce its intentions and give the property owner a chance to argue against the taking.” This simple rule holds regardless of whether the property in question is an Escalade or [a tent], a Cadillac or a cart. The City demonstrates that it completely misunderstands the role of due process by its contrary suggestion that homeless persons instantly and permanently lose any protected property interest in their possessions by leaving them momentarily unattended in violation of a municipal ordinance. As the district court recognized, the logic of the City’s suggestion would also allow it to seize and destroy cars parked in no-parking zones left momentarily unattended.

As with all of Sobel’s writing, the initial complaint makes compelling reading. You can get a copy of the PDF here, or turn the page for a transcription of selections.
Continue reading Rex Schellenberg v. City Of Los Angeles — In September 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging Summary Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of An Elderly Disabled Homeless Man — And Seeking An Injunction Against These Practices — For Some Reason This Has Not Been Covered At All In The Media — Read The Initial Complaint Here

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Venice Justice Committee Free Speech Lawsuit — City Of Los Angeles Settles — Agrees To Rewrite Beach Ordinance To Expressly Permit Leafletting, Petitioning, And So Forth On Boardwalk Until Midnight — And To Pay Carol Sobel $80,000 — When Will They Ever Learn?

Peggy Lee Kennedy and the Venice Justice Committee advocate for the rights of homeless people on the Venice Boardwalk. The LAPD has regularly threatened Kennedy with arrest for illegal vending in violation of the ordinance regulating such activities on the Boardwalk, that is to say, LAMC §42.15. Thus in February 2016 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court on behalf of the activists. The suit survived a motion to dismiss after an August 2016 hearing in which not only did the City’s oral arguments seem pathetically pro forma but the judge, Dean Pregerson, seemed openly skeptical of the City’s position.

And that’s pretty much where things stood for over two years until yesterday, Wednesday, October 10, 2018, when the City of Los Angeles passed a motion agreeing to settle the case. The terms are excellent for the plaintiffs. The City agrees to rewrite the relevant section of LAMC 42.15 to explicitly state that activities protected by the First Amendment, including the use of a table, are expressly allowed on the Boardwalk until midnight. The City will also pay Carol Sobel’s office $80,000 for her excellent work on this matter. Turn the page for the full text of the motion. You can also read most of the pleadings here on Archive.Org.
Continue reading Venice Justice Committee Free Speech Lawsuit — City Of Los Angeles Settles — Agrees To Rewrite Beach Ordinance To Expressly Permit Leafletting, Petitioning, And So Forth On Boardwalk Until Midnight — And To Pay Carol Sobel $80,000 — When Will They Ever Learn?

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Pete White v. City Of Los Angeles — Tons Of New Filings — The City Of LA — Evidently A Bunch Of Whiny Crybabies — Wants The Jury To Know That — (A) Pete White Is Really Really Mean And Is Not A Model Citizen Unlike Officer Kinney — (B) Pete White And LA CAN Hate The LAPD — (C) Pete White And LA CAN Have Made The Homeless Situation In LA Far Far Worse — (D) Pete White Has Made His Bed And Now He Must Lie In It — (E) Pete White Has A Potty Mouth And Therefore He Has Voluntarily Given Up All His Civil Rights

In May 2017 Pete White of the Los Angeles Community Action Network filed suit against the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD for violating his civil rights by arresting him for filming a homeless encampment cleanup. Last month White filed a number of motions seeking to exclude evidence that the City of LA sought to present to the jury. In the last week a bunch more paper has been filed in the case, including the City’s oppositions to those motions, White’s replies to those oppositions, and a lot of other more technical material. All of this and more is available here on Archive.Org and there are direct links to everything and some transcriptions after the break.

As before the most interesting material here has to do with the motions in limine, and in particular the City’s responses to them. If I’ve seen a more offensive and more presumptuous set of pleadings filed anywhere I couldn’t tell you where it was. The City stoops here to asserting, e.g., that Pete White has forfeited his civil rights because he swore at the cops who arrested them and repeatedly called one of them a murderer because he fired the bullet that killed Charly Keunang.

The author of these motions, presumably deputy city attorney Thomas H. Peters, explicitly blames Pete White and the LA Community Action Network for making the City’s homeless problem much worse. They repeatedly argue that Pete White hates the LAPD and therefore they should be allowed to present to the jury his past arrests and use of language that these snowflake cops find offensive. The arguments are forensically bankrupt and disgusting, the plaintiff’s replies are scathing and convincing, and there are links and quotes, as I said, after the break.
Continue reading Pete White v. City Of Los Angeles — Tons Of New Filings — The City Of LA — Evidently A Bunch Of Whiny Crybabies — Wants The Jury To Know That — (A) Pete White Is Really Really Mean And Is Not A Model Citizen Unlike Officer Kinney — (B) Pete White And LA CAN Hate The LAPD — (C) Pete White And LA CAN Have Made The Homeless Situation In LA Far Far Worse — (D) Pete White Has Made His Bed And Now He Must Lie In It — (E) Pete White Has A Potty Mouth And Therefore He Has Voluntarily Given Up All His Civil Rights

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Pete White V. City Of Los Angeles — Plaintiff Files Four Motions And A Declaration To Exclude Prejudicial Evidence That The City Wants To Present — Including Some Nonsense About Pete White Swearing After His Arrest Which The City Laughably Claims Shows “What The Officers Had To Deal With”

If you’re interested, here is the soundtrack to this evening’s post.

If you recall, Pete White filed suit against the City of Los Angeles in May 2017. The issue is that the LAPD arrested him for lawfully videotaping them interacting with homeless people on Skid Row in 2016, and you can find a generous selection of the pleadings here on Archive.Org. Not much has been happening with the case recently, but this afternoon, a whole bunch of motions and a declaration in support hit PACER and moved me to write this post.

The four motions are so-called motions in limine, which is to say that they’re asking the judge, James Otero, to exclude certain evidence that the City of Los Angeles is insisting on presenting at trial. There’s also a declaration by plaintiff’s attorney Catherine Sweetser explaining the course of negotiations between the parties with respect to the evidence. Here are links to the documents and brief descriptions. Turn the page for a transcription of one of the motions.

Motion to exclude evidence of past arrests

Motion to exclude evidence of past lawsuits

Motion to exclude defendants’ bodycam evidence — This is technically interesting. The plaintiffs actually want to have the cops’ bodycam evidence introduced, but the cops won’t let them see it in advance because they claim it’s privileged. If I understand the issue correctly, and I probably don’t, the claim is that if the City won’t let the plaintiffs see it in advance it can’t be introduced at trial.

Motion to exclude evidence of plaintiff’s cursing — This is both the most trivial and the most interesting to me of the four motions. Evidently Pete White told the arresting officer that he was a piece of shit for arresting him. The City wants to present this evidence to the jury because it illustrates “what the officers had to deal with.” To me it illustrates the shockingly low level of maturity and professionalism to be found among some LAPD officers, not to mention their implausible claim that being called names by people is somehow strange, unusual, unprecedented. They’ve had decades to get used to it, after all.

Declaration of Catherine Sweetser — Here one of the plaintiff’s attorneys explains what the City thinks this evidence means and gives various other reasons in support of its exclusion. This is the most essential item if you’re only going to read one.
Continue reading Pete White V. City Of Los Angeles — Plaintiff Files Four Motions And A Declaration To Exclude Prejudicial Evidence That The City Wants To Present — Including Some Nonsense About Pete White Swearing After His Arrest Which The City Laughably Claims Shows “What The Officers Had To Deal With”

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2016 Lawsuit Filed By LAPD Critic Patti Beers Against The City Of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, And Assorted Other Cops, Has Settled In Its Entirety — However, The Terms Of The Settlement Are Not Yet Known

This is just the quickest of notes to announce that mere moments ago radical videographer Patti Beers, who sued the City and a bunch of cops in 2016 over their abuse of her during the 2014 protests about Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO, announced that she’d settled all her claims and the City’s going to pay her an as-yet-undisclosed amount of money, some of which will no doubt go to her attorney, the renowned and heroic Morgan Ricketts.

You can read some details in my earlier post on the suit and you can read the notice of settlement, just filed on PACER about ten minutes ago, right here. Note that this settlement leaves the ongoing associated class action suit known as Chua v. City of LA untouched as far as I can see. That one’s scheduled for trial in November 2018. This one’s over. Also, turn the page for a transcription of the notice of settlement.
Continue reading 2016 Lawsuit Filed By LAPD Critic Patti Beers Against The City Of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, And Assorted Other Cops, Has Settled In Its Entirety — However, The Terms Of The Settlement Are Not Yet Known

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Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

Remember Don Duckworth? Big bad BID boss of both the Melrose BID and the Westchester Town Center BID?? We haven’t heard from Mr. Duckworth here on the blog in a long old time even though he is quite an interesting character, what with his BID analyst switcheroos and his kooky Brown-Act-flouting bylaws and that whole Calabasas episode and so forth.

His absence from my literary life has not, however, been by choice.1 The fact is that circa last June the guy just decided to stop responding to my CPRA requests altogether. No records, no answers, no nothing from Don Duckworth. Hence no joyously mocking blog posts and so on. Well, friends, that’s about to change, and change big-time!

You see, my lawyer, the incomparable Anna von Herrmann, recently filed two petitions, one for each of Duckworth’s BIDs, to compel compliance with the CPRA. You can find them here on Archive.Org on pages which I will update if/when the cases generate more paper:

Melrose BID petition
Westchester Town Center BID petition

And turn the page for some excerpts from the Melrose petition! And a little more commentary!!
Continue reading Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

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Venice Beach BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act

Yeah, perhaps you recall that in February 2017 I sent a public records act request to the newborn Venice Beach BID and executive directrix Tara Devine has been conscientiously ignoring it ever since. And so I hired a lawyer. And the lawyer filed this petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court. And served the petition on the BID yesterday.

Of course, this is the same course of action that the Larchmont Village BID recently thrust upon me. I wish there was some way to get these BIDdies to follow the law other than by filing petitions against them but the State Legislature, in its inscrutable wisdom, has made this the only remedy. Sad but true. Stay tuned for more information and turn the page for some excerpts from the petition.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act

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World Exclusive News Flash!! Lunada Bay Boys Surf Gang Has Started Rebuilding Illegal Rock Fort On Public Beach At Lunada Bay — Amended Class Action Complaint Filed By Plaintiffs In Los Angeles County Superior Court On Friday — A Gripping And Nauseating Account Of Decades Of Multigenerational Rapey Racist Violence By Spoiled Brat Zillionaire Localist Surf Thugs

As of April 2018 the vicious gang of zillionaire thugs known as the Lunada Bay Boys have started rebuilding their illegal rock fort on the beach at Lunada Bay. Click photos to enlarge.
For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on the federal lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in the federal case and see here for the state court pleadings. You can also read all my posts on both cases.

I haven’t been writing on the Lunada Bay Boys case since District Court Judge James Otero dismissed most of the federal part, although the state action still continues. This hasn’t been out of a lack of interest, but mostly because other things keep coming up, and also I’m familiar with PACER and know very little about state level courts’ document systems. But I’m taking the story up again!

The big newsflash is that the Lunada Bay Boys, thuggish white-privilege-fueled morons that they are, evidently couldn’t live without their damn rock fort. Or they couldn’t live with the fact that some government agency, controlled by darkies, just ask them, had the power to force the demolition of their damn rock fort. It amounts to the same thing in the end, and, as the photos at the top of this post, taken in April 2018, demonstrate, they have started rebuilding it, contrary to the laws of God and the State of California. This, they’re going to pay for. They’re too blinded by white privilege to see it, but it’s nevertheless true as true can be.

And I started a page on Archive.Org to collect the pleadings going forward. There are two items in there now, and turn the page for links and brief discussion.
Continue reading World Exclusive News Flash!! Lunada Bay Boys Surf Gang Has Started Rebuilding Illegal Rock Fort On Public Beach At Lunada Bay — Amended Class Action Complaint Filed By Plaintiffs In Los Angeles County Superior Court On Friday — A Gripping And Nauseating Account Of Decades Of Multigenerational Rapey Racist Violence By Spoiled Brat Zillionaire Localist Surf Thugs

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Judge James Chalfant Issues Final Judgment In Okulick Petition Against The Venice Beach BID — The News Is Not Good, Friends, Even Though It Seemed Last Month Like It Was Going To Be


I created a page on Archive.Org to collect pleadings from the Okulicks’ case, and you can find it right here. Unfortunately right now I only have the original petition and yesterday’s tentative ruling, since adopted as final. This article from the Times is also useful background.

Yesterday afternoon the final hearing in the Okulick’s lawsuit against the Venice Beach BID took place before Judge James C. Chalfant in Department 85 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. One of the petitioners’ claims was that BIDs don’t give any special benefits to property owners whose parcels are zoned commercial but are used solely as owner-occupied residential.

Last month, it seems, Chalfant agreed with the petitioners, stating in his tentative ruling at that time that:

The Petition for writ of mandate is granted in part. Only the portion of the assessment directed to properties used by their owner exclusively as their residence is unlawful. A writ shall issue directing a refund of that portion of the assessment and Petitioners are entitled to a declaratory judgment to that effect. In all other respects, the Petition is denied.

However, it seems that the respondents, i.e. the City of Los Angeles and the Venice Beach BID, convinced him to hold off on making this ruling final to allow for another round of briefing just on the specific part where he found in favor of the Okulicks. I don’t have copies of those briefs, but yesterday’s hearing consisted of the oral argument surrounding them. Whatever the City of LA put in its brief did the nasty trick, evidently.

By yesterday Chalfant had changed his mind completely, and nothing that the petitioners’ lawyer, the brave, the honorable Geoffrey T. Stover, could say would sway the judge. Turn the page for the money quote from yesterday’s bad news tentative ruling and a little bit of amateur discussion based on notes I took at the hearing.
Continue reading Judge James Chalfant Issues Final Judgment In Okulick Petition Against The Venice Beach BID — The News Is Not Good, Friends, Even Though It Seemed Last Month Like It Was Going To Be

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Mere Moments Ago Judge David Carter Issues Minute Order Extending His Temporary Restraining Order Against Orange County Or Cities Evicting Homeless People From Santa Ana River Bed Until The End Of Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 14

For background, see Luke Money‘s excellent coverage in the Times, starting with this January 29 article on the Lawsuit and continuing with this article on the February 13 hearing. Coverage is also being handled by Hannah Fry and Doug Smith. You can also download selected pleadings in the case from our Archive.Org site.

This morning a hearing was held before Judge David Carter on the plaintiffs’ motion to grant a temporary order restraining local governments from evicting or arresting homeless people on the bed of the Santa Ana River1 Last week, in anticipation of today’s hearing, Carter issued a temporary injunction which is set to expire at midnight tonight.

Today’s hearing was meant to determine whether the injunction should be extended. It seems that the hearing is continuing over until tomorrow, because mere moments ago he filed a minute order extending the temporary restraining order until tomorrow night “[b]ecause the hearing is continuing to February 14, 2018.”Look for the final order here, and find a transcription of tonight’s order after the break.
Continue reading Mere Moments Ago Judge David Carter Issues Minute Order Extending His Temporary Restraining Order Against Orange County Or Cities Evicting Homeless People From Santa Ana River Bed Until The End Of Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 14

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