Tag Archives: James Otero

Lunada Bay Boys Judge Otero Grants City Of Palos Verdes Estates And Former Chief Jeff Kepley’s Motion For Summary Judgment, Meaning They Are Out Of The Case!

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

This is a very short note to announce the breaking news that James Otero, judge in the Lunada Bay Boys case, filed an order last night granting the motion of the City of Palos Verdes Estates and Jeff Kepley for summary judgment. Thus these two defendants are out of the case at this point. The plaintiffs’ theory with respect to these defendants was that they conspired with the Bay Boys to keep outsiders from surfing Lunada Bay.

Plaintiffs alleged two means by which this happened. First, that the City enforced laws, e.g. traffic laws, more harshly against outsiders than against locals. Second, that the City refused to protect outsiders from harassment by locals. The basic finding in the order is that the plaintiffs don’t have enough evidence to support the first kind of claim and that the City as a matter of law has no affirmative duty to protect anyone from harassment or attacks. I apologize for the fact that I don’t have time this morning to transcribe even part of the order, but I recommend it as very interesting, if disappointing, reading.

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Lunada Bay Boys Judge James Otero Accepts Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver’s Report And Recommendation With Respect To Defendant Brant Blakeman, Thereby Putting Him On The Hook For Monetary Sanctions To Plaintiffs, A New Deposition On His Dime, And Plaintiffs Will Be Allowed To Present Evidence At Trial About Blakeman’s Missing Texts

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

Listen, I really apologize for the fact that the last you, my audience heard, the Lunada Bay Boys trial was scheduled for February 6. In December Otero cancelled this trial date and has not yet set a new one. I’m not sure why I didn’t write about it, but I didn’t. As soon as a new trial date is set I’ll let you know, and will do my very best to keep on top of announcing cancellations.

The last time we heard from the Bay Boys or their attorneys was in January of this year, with Brant Blakeman mouthpiece Thomas Stobart arguing against Rozella Oliver’s report and recommendation for sanctions against Blakeman for his failure to preserve a bunch of his text messages. His argument essentially consisted of putting scare quotes around everything Oliver wrote in her report, possibly intending to make her recommendations against his client seem silly or something.

That her recommendations were not silly was and is completely obvious to anyone who read Oliver’s report, and thus it was in some sense no surprise that this morning, Judge James Otero filed an order accepting Oliver’s report and recommendations for sanctions against Brant Blakeman. There’s a transcription of this PDF after the break.

In short, though, it requires Blakeman to pay plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs for the motion for sanctions against him and to submit to another deposition about the text messages he did not preserve (and to pay plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs for the deposition). It also allows the plaintiffs to present evidence at trial about the missing text messages. It’s not the entire war, but it’s a significant tactical victory for the plaintiffs. Turn the page for a transcription of Otero’s order.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Judge James Otero Accepts Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver’s Report And Recommendation With Respect To Defendant Brant Blakeman, Thereby Putting Him On The Hook For Monetary Sanctions To Plaintiffs, A New Deposition On His Dime, And Plaintiffs Will Be Allowed To Present Evidence At Trial About Blakeman’s Missing Texts

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Lunada Bay Boys Defendant Brant Blakeman Objects To Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver’s Recommendation That He Be Sanctioned Via The Sarcastic Use Of About A Zillion Scare Quotes — Meanwhile Judge Otero Issues Order Accepting Oliver’s Recommendations With Respect To Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang Lee And Thereby Casts Much Doubt On The Likely Efficacy Of Blakeman’s Middle-School-Style Strategy

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

So maybe you recall that in December, Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver filed an amended report and recommendation to the court regarding the plaintiffs’ motions for sanctions against Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang Lee for their plausibly willful mishandling of evidence in the case. Yesterday Judge James Otero filed an order accepting Oliver’s recommendations. In particular, following Oliver’s recommendations precisely, Otero ruled:

… that Plaintiffs are permitted to depose Defendants Sang Lee, Charlie Ferrara, and Frank Ferrara regarding issues relevant to spoliation, with costs to be shared by Plaintiffs and the deposed Defendants. At trial, the parties will be permitted to present evidence and argument related to the unrecoverable text messages for Defendant Lee and the Ferrara Defendants and the unavailable cellular billing records for Charlie Ferrara.

This was not unexpected, but it’s interesting nevertheless. However, the plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions against these three clowns was not the only such motion concerning which Rozella Oliver has recommendations. There’s also, of course, her report on Brant Blakeman and his wildly antisocial handling of evidence in his possession. Well, on December 27, John Stobart, Blakeman’s lawyer, filed an opposition to Oliver’s recommendations, and this morning the plaintiffs responded to Blakeman’s objection. The two pleadings are available here:

The plaintiffs’ response was written by the agressively sane Samantha Wolff of Hanson Bridgett. And it’s definitely worth reading, but it’s, you know, competent, prudent, measured, and so on. Therefore there’s not much for me to comment on.

On the other hand, Brant Blakeman’s objection, written by John Stobart, is, as befits the rapiest Bay Boy, a surreal sludge pot of scare quotes, sophomoric sarcasm, and generalized cack-handedness, and, as such, is required reading!1

Selections after the break, and please, note that I didn’t add a single quotation mark. Not a single one. Footnotes also are as in the original,2 and read them if you want to see some of John Stobart’s most flamboyantly weird scare quotation.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Defendant Brant Blakeman Objects To Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver’s Recommendation That He Be Sanctioned Via The Sarcastic Use Of About A Zillion Scare Quotes — Meanwhile Judge Otero Issues Order Accepting Oliver’s Recommendations With Respect To Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang Lee And Thereby Casts Much Doubt On The Likely Efficacy Of Blakeman’s Middle-School-Style Strategy

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Lunada Bay Boys Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver Recommends That Because Defendant Brant Blakeman Failed To Preserve Text Messages After He Became Aware Of The Lawsuit He Must Pay Attorneys’ Fees And Costs For Motion For Sanctions And Cover Costs Of Additional Deposition On Subject Of What Happened To The Damn Text Messages!

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

At this point the Lunada Bay Boys discovery-related complaints, cross-complaints, bitching, cross-bitching, moaning, cross-moaning, and so on and on and on have gotten so tortuously complexicated that there’s essentially no way to summarize them any longer. However, I will remind you all that there was a hearing on December 6 before Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver on spoliation of evidence by the City Defendants1 and most rapiest Bay Boy defendant Sr. Brant Blakeman.

At issue were some text messages that Blakeman failed to preserve. The texts were on a phone issued to him by the City of PVE, which is why they were involved. The plaintiffs asked Oliver to find that Blakeman and the City not only had a duty to preserve the texts but that they had been so adversely affected by their destruction that the court ought to make Blakeman and the City pay fines, pay fees, pay costs, their motions for summary judgment ought to be denied out of hand, and an instruction to the jury stating that they should draw an adverse implication from the destruction of the texts. Blakeman and the City argued that they didn’t do anything wrong at all because they had no duty to preserve anything. Just yesterday Magistrate Judge Oliver issued her report and recommendations on the issues raised during the hearing.

With respect to the City, Oliver found that while they did have a legal obligation to preserve evidence starting earlier than they claimed, no evidence was lost specifically due to the City’s inaction, so she declined to recommend any sanctions against the City. Blakeman, on the other hand, did a few bad things, according to the Magistrate Judge.

First of all, he did have a duty to preserve the text messages. Also he failed to take reasonable steps to preserve them. Finally, the text messages were lost because of his inaction, and this prejudices the plaintiffs’ case. However, Oliver declines to find that Blakeman did it on purpose,2 and so she declines to recommend the most harsh sanctions possible.

Basically, she’s recommending that Blakeman have to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys for their costs and fees in bringing the motion for sanctions against him, and that he submit to an additional deposition that he pay for on the subject of what happened to the text messages. Additionally she recommends that the plaintiffs be allowed to present evidence to the jury about his failure to preserve and that if Judge Otero thinks it’s justified at trial, he consider allowing an instruction to the jury on what kind of inferences they can draw from Blakeman’s actions. Finally, she declined to recommend that Blakeman’s motion for summary judgment be dismissed a priori. Turn the page for transcribed selections.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver Recommends That Because Defendant Brant Blakeman Failed To Preserve Text Messages After He Became Aware Of The Lawsuit He Must Pay Attorneys’ Fees And Costs For Motion For Sanctions And Cover Costs Of Additional Deposition On Subject Of What Happened To The Damn Text Messages!

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Lunada Bay Boys Defendants Blakeman And City of PVE File Timely Oppositions To Plaintiffs’ Motion For Sanctions, Blakeman Throws His Co-Defendant Frank Ferrara Under The Bus To Some Extent

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

OK, so the Lunada Bay Boys plaintiffs filed a motion for sanctions against defendants Brant Blakeman, the City of PVE, and some others. The motion is here. And a couple weeks ago Judge James Otero ordered all relevant parties to brief Rozella Oliver, the magistrate judge in the case, on the issues. She turned around and set a briefing schedule and a hearing, which will happen in her courtroom on Spring Street on Wednesday, December 6, at 1:30 p.m.

That order required Blakeman and the City defendants to file briefs in opposition by November 27, which they did, and which are the reason for today’s post.1 The issue is, of course, whether these particular defendants destroyed evidence, mainly text messages, after they had a legal duty to preserve it. No one seems to deny that they did destroy the texts, so the argument is mostly about precisely when their duty to preserve evidence was activated.2

You might recall that at some point various Ferraras argued that their duty to preserve only attached when they were served with papers in the suit, but Rozella Oliver wasn’t buying it. She said that because Frank Ferrara had been interviews by the Daily Breeze prior to service he knew about the suit and ought to have not destroyed his texts. Well, Blakeman turns that argument to his own account by asserting that because he wasn’t interviewed by the paper, there’s no evidence that he knew about the suit prior to service.

Anyway, here are the briefs filed, and there are selected transcriptions from Blakeman’s pleading after the break:

Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Defendants Blakeman And City of PVE File Timely Oppositions To Plaintiffs’ Motion For Sanctions, Blakeman Throws His Co-Defendant Frank Ferrara Under The Bus To Some Extent

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Lunada Bay Boys: Otero Orders Parties To Brief Magistrate Judge Oliver On Spoliation By Defendants, Other Issues, On Basis Of Plaintiffs’ Ex Parte Application For A Hearing — Oliver Sets Hearing For December 6 at 1:30 p.m.

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

As usual things are super complicated over in Lunada Bay. A couple weeks ago the plaintiffs filed this ex parte application for an order setting a hearing on something something something regarding Blakeman’s and the City Defendants’ spoliation of evidence. I can’t untangle the recursive character of the name of this thing, but essentially the plaintiffs are asking for a hearing on the issue of whether defendant Brant Blakeman and the City of PVE destroyed evidence after they weren’t allowed to any more. This request was based on text messages newly obtained out of Papayans’s cell phone.

This was opposed by Blakeman on the usual grounds and possibly also by the City Defendants.1 Blakeman’s opposition was the subject of a fine rejoinder filed by the plaintiffs. And yesterday Judge Otero filed an order ruling that the plaintiffs had raised allegations sufficient to require a hearing and told Judge Oliver to get on it. She filed her own order this morning setting a hearing date for December 6 at 1:30 p.m. Transcriptions of the orders are after the break.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys: Otero Orders Parties To Brief Magistrate Judge Oliver On Spoliation By Defendants, Other Issues, On Basis Of Plaintiffs’ Ex Parte Application For A Hearing — Oliver Sets Hearing For December 6 at 1:30 p.m.

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Lunada Bay Boys Trial Continued Until February 6, 2018 — Transcript Of Contentious October Hearing Before Rozella Oliver Published! — Plaintiffs Call Out Brant Blakeman On His Nonsense For The Eleventy-Jillionth Time

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

Here’s an update of what’s going on with the Bay Boys. Most crucially Judge Otero has moved the trial date from next month out to February 6, 2018. Here’s a copy of the order he filed the other day.

We also have the Ferraras filing their objection to the fairly heavy sanctions against them recommended recently by Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver. If you recall, back in August Judge Otero specifically granted her the authority to rule on this stuff and given the moderate nature of her recommendations it seems unlikely that he’s going to ignore her thoughtful work just because a bunch of Ferraras ask him to. But of course we’ll see what we see.

Most interestingly, I think, we have this Plaintiffs’ reply to Blakeman’s opposition to their ex parte application for relief from Blakeman’s and the City’s spoliation of evidence. Blakeman filed this whiny-baby opposition a while ago, but the plaintiffs’ response is well worth your time. There are transcribed selections after the break.

Best of all, though, is the fact that as part of this pleading, the plaintiffs filed this transcript of the hearing held before Rozella Oliver on October 12, which attended and reported on, but how much nicer to have the transcript. Read the whole thing, please! Oliver’s dry humor is just lovely. I wish I had time to transcribe the whole thing for you, but I don’t.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Trial Continued Until February 6, 2018 — Transcript Of Contentious October Hearing Before Rozella Oliver Published! — Plaintiffs Call Out Brant Blakeman On His Nonsense For The Eleventy-Jillionth Time

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Lunada Bay Boys Case: Magistrate Judge The Honorable Rozella Oliver Recommends Sanction-Slaps For 67% Of The Ferrara Defendants, Additional Depositions Concerning Discovery Shenanigans Of Those Same Ferraras And Sang “Friend N A Pirate” Lee, Allowing Plaintiffs To Argue Inferences From Missing Evidence Before Jury!

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

Perhaps you recall that on Thursday, October 12, the plaintiffs and defendants Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang “Friend N A Pirate” Lee appeared before Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver to discuss the plaintiffs’ motion that these defendants be sanctioned for destroying a bunch of obviously incriminating text messages.

Today Oliver issued a Report and Recommendation on Motion for Sanctions. The document is well worth reading, as it summarizes the entire background of discovery disputes between the plaintiffs and these three defendants in a comprehensive, comprehensible style.

This paper is in the form of a recommendation to Judge Otero rather than an order. I don’t know for sure why this is, but I’m guessing it’s because this matter is beyond the traditional powers of Magistrates and Oliver is allowed to deal with it because Otero specifically granted her the authority to do so. His having done so, I’m guessing, makes it pretty likely that he’ll accept her recommendations, especially given their prudent, moderate nature.

In particular, she says that there’s no evidence showing that Sang Lee spoiled evidence on purpose when he had a duty to preserve it. She does recommend that the plaintiffs be allowed to depose Lee again to explore the issue of evidence. To emphasize that she’s not punishing him she recommends that he and the plaintiffs split the cost of his depo. The Ferraras, that is, Charlie and Frank, come off quite a bit worse, and you can turn the page to learn their fate and read a teensy bit of the document itself.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Case: Magistrate Judge The Honorable Rozella Oliver Recommends Sanction-Slaps For 67% Of The Ferrara Defendants, Additional Depositions Concerning Discovery Shenanigans Of Those Same Ferraras And Sang “Friend N A Pirate” Lee, Allowing Plaintiffs To Argue Inferences From Missing Evidence Before Jury!

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Judge James Otero Issues Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify His Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Of LAMC §56.11 In Skid Row

See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

Recall that in May 2016 the City of Los Angeles filed a motion asking Judge James Otero to clarify his preliminary injunction against enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC §56.11 within the boundaries of Skid Row. Recently plaintiffs’ attorney Carol Sobel filed a scathing opposition to the City’s motion. Otero then ruled that he could dispose of the motion without a hearing.

Earlier today he filed an order doing just that. He denied the City’s motion entirely and accused them of asking him to rule on abstractions and complex constitutional issues which had not yet come up in practice in this case. This he declined to do, rightly in my opinion, leaving the City with no option but to buckle down and follow the freaking law for once. There’s a transcription after the break.
Continue reading Judge James Otero Issues Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify His Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Of LAMC §56.11 In Skid Row

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Who Is In Charge Of The Palos Verdes Estates Police Department? Jeff Kepley Is Definitely Out, But Other Than That No One At The City Is Talking, At Least They’re Not Talking To Judge James Otero

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit.ames Also see here to download all pleadings in this case.

A very peculiar pleading in this most peculiar of cases hit PACER last night, in . It seems that PVE police chief Jeff Kepley retired at some point recently. Since he’s being sued in his official capacity rather than his personal capacity, it appears that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d) requires that Jeff Kepley be dropped from the suit and his successor named instead:

Public Officers; Death or Separation from Office. An action does not abate when a public officer who is a party in an official capacity dies, resigns, or otherwise ceases to hold office while the action is pending. The officer’s successor is automatically substituted as a party. Later proceedings should be in the substituted party’s name, but any misnomer not affecting the parties’ substantial rights must be disregarded. The court may order substitution at any time, but the absence of such an order does not affect the substitution.

So, very reasonably, it seems, plaintiffs’ attorney Kurt Franklin filed a Suggestion to the Court that the acting Chief, who seems to be Mark Velez at this point, be substituted in.1 This seems to be fairly inconsequential in that the rule seems to say that the substitution happens irrespective of whether anyone acknowledges it, but it also seems like the kind of thing one would want to tell the court about. If it comes up later and one knew about it and didn’t tell the court, how weird is that going to look?

Not that the City of PVE is worried about such niceties. As with everything to do with the City’s involvement in this case, the events leading up to this filing have an air of shady incompetence, evasion, and deception. It hasn’t yet been proven that this weirdo little City on a Hill has anything to hide, but they surely do act as if they do. So what’s one more little item like not telling the court that the freaking chief of police retired?

As always there’s a transcription after the break, as well as a timeline of key events.
Continue reading Who Is In Charge Of The Palos Verdes Estates Police Department? Jeff Kepley Is Definitely Out, But Other Than That No One At The City Is Talking, At Least They’re Not Talking To Judge James Otero

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