Category Archives: Lawsuits

Charmaine Chua V. City Of Los Angeles — Motion For Leave To Present Classwide Damages Filed — Hearing Scheduled For January 14, 2019 At 8:30 A.M. Before Judge John Kronstadt — First Street Courthouse Courtroom 10B

UPDATE: This hearing has been changed to February 4, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. The trial has been reset as well. The new dates are set here in this order.

Almost three years ago now, in January 2016, Charmaine Chua and others sued the City of Los Angeles for civil rights violations arising from 2014 protests over the killing of Michael Brown in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. In May 2017 the case was certified as a class action, but it seems like not that much has happened since then, I guess maybe because it still seemed like there was some chance that it might settle.

Well, evidently that’s not going to happen, and the case is revving up again. In September of this year Judge John Kronstadt issued a scheduling order which, in part and barring settlement, which didn’t happen, ordered the plaintiffs ” to file a motion (“Motion”) for leave to present claims of alleged general damages on a classwide basis at trial of the corresponding claims for liability, which shall include a proposed trial plan for the presentation of evidence as to such alleged damages.”

I guess the point is that usually in a lawsuit the plaintiff can get damages to make up for what the defendant’s conduct cost them but if they’re suing for so-called general damages, where no specific objective dollar value can be assigned, it’s necessary to argue that such payments are appropriate. Anyway, as always, I’m not a lawyer, but that seems to be what the motion, filed by plaintiffs on November 5, 2018, seems to be arguing.1

It seems that the way to make this argument in cases of police misconduct, false imprisonment, and so on, is to introduce an expert witness who has studied and/or been involved in many such cases. The plaintiffs also filed, therefore, a declaration by Michael Avery, who analyzes more than 20 cases of police misconduct involving wrongful imprisonment in which, at least in the class action ones, victims were paid between $1,800 and $23,000 as compensation for their loss of liberty. There is a transcription of this after the break, along with links to other interesting materials and a little background as well.

Note that the hearing on this motion is scheduled for January 14, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. in John Kronstadt’s courtroom in the First Street Federal Courthouse, which is 10B. Don’t be misled by the wrong date which appears on a bunch of these pleadings. It was an error, as reflected in this notice of error filed with the court a couple days ago.
Continue reading Charmaine Chua V. City Of Los Angeles — Motion For Leave To Present Classwide Damages Filed — Hearing Scheduled For January 14, 2019 At 8:30 A.M. Before Judge John Kronstadt — First Street Courthouse Courtroom 10B

Share

Oh Man! — The LA Times Sure Left A Lotta Tea Unspilled On Mayra Alvarez’s Allegations Against Rapiest Councilboy Of ‘Em All — Her Former Boss, José Huizar — Facebook And Instagram Stalker — Notebook Thrower — Whiny-Baby Tea Drinker — Hypocritically Jealous Adulterer — Subordinate Intimidator With A Butt-Grabbing Brother — Read All About It Right Here Cause We Finally Got A Copy Of The Actual Complaint As Filed!

Everybody who’s reading this blog by now knows that Mayra Alvarez, who is José Huizar’s former scheduler, is suing him for harassment, retaliation, and various other important matters. David Zahniser had an excellent story about it in the Times a few weeks ago when the suit was filed. And David Zahniser covered some important allegations. For instance, Huizar ordered Alvarez to alter his calendars in front of public records act requests and when she objected he took away her responsible position as scheduler and made her into his receptionist. And to work on the 2020 election campaign of Mrs. José Huizar on City time. And so on.

But the Times, for whatever reason, journalistic integrity, admirable prudence, pure good sense, lack of space, an instinct for dignity, didn’t provide a copy of the complaint and also didn’t reveal many of the most lurid and yet entirely believable allegations against José Huizar who, it turns out, is even rapier than we thought, and that was already pretty damn rapey. Fortunately we here at MK.Org suffer from not one of those impediments! The purpose of tonight’s post is to fill both of the gaps left by David Zahniser’s reporting. The second comes first. Here’s the initial complaint filed by Mayra Alvarez in Los Angeles County Superior Court on October 22, 2018.

And what kind of creepy crapola did José Huizar get up to? All kinds of stuff, from repeatedly texting the word “tea” to her from his office in response to her putatively slow tea service to obsessively stalking her Facebook and her Instagram and emailing her with extra work every time she posted a picture of her with her husband.

Huizar’s extramarital affairs have been widely reported, but this is the first time we learn that he, evidently out of wildly hypocritical jealousy, forbade some of his own male staffers from working closely with his paramours. And his brother, it seems, is a butt-grabber, and José Huizar in response is an intimidator of women whose butts are grabbed, cause it’s going to make him look bad if they complain. And, because why not, he also evidently threw stuff at Mayra Alvarez during his tea tantrums. All in all he’s bad news indeed. Turn the page for transcribed selections from the complaint.
Continue reading Oh Man! — The LA Times Sure Left A Lotta Tea Unspilled On Mayra Alvarez’s Allegations Against Rapiest Councilboy Of ‘Em All — Her Former Boss, José Huizar — Facebook And Instagram Stalker — Notebook Thrower — Whiny-Baby Tea Drinker — Hypocritically Jealous Adulterer — Subordinate Intimidator With A Butt-Grabbing Brother — Read All About It Right Here Cause We Finally Got A Copy Of The Actual Complaint As Filed!

Share

Rebecca Cooley v. City Of Los Angeles — On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging The Illegal Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of Rebecca Cooley, Benjamin Hubert, And Casimir Zoroda — Three Disabled Homeless People Living In Venice At The Time — Seeks Class Action Status For Approximately 60 Others Similarly Situated

On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court against the City of Los Angeles on behalf of three named homeless people along with about sixty others similarly situated. The three, Rebecca Cooley, her husband Benjamin Hubert, and Casimir Zaroda, are homeless people who were living on the streets in Venice in September 2017 when the City of Los Angeles, without notice and without any kind of process, confiscated and destroyed their property, including tents, blankets, essential paperwork, transit passes, and other items essential to the maintenance of human life. The suit comes just as the City is resuming its horrific, indiscriminate sweeps of homeless encampments outside of neighborhoods covered by the various injunctions.

The initial complaint claims that the City’s actions violate constitutional bans on takings and on unlawful seizure as well as the constitutional guarantee of due process. These familiar theories have been consistently upheld by federal courts up to and including the Ninth Circuit,1 all of which have been willing to issue and/or uphold injunctions against the City’s property confiscation and destruction policies. So it’s hard to imagine that the City can prevail on these issues.

Also, because two of the three named plaintiffs are disabled along with many of the similarly situated unnamed plaintiffs, the complaint also alleges that the City violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by confiscating their essential papers and means of transportation, by storing confiscated property in locations and facilities not properly accessible to disabled people, and, in general, by following policies and practices with respect to homeless people’s property that disproportionately burden disabled people.

Turn the page for transcriptions of selections from the initial complaint.
Continue reading Rebecca Cooley v. City Of Los Angeles — On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging The Illegal Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of Rebecca Cooley, Benjamin Hubert, And Casimir Zoroda — Three Disabled Homeless People Living In Venice At The Time — Seeks Class Action Status For Approximately 60 Others Similarly Situated

Share

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

Share

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?

Share

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

Share

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”

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share