Judge Otero Mostly Denies City of LA’s Motion to Dismiss

California-central(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).

On April 5, 2016, the City of Los Angeles filed a motion to dismiss this lawsuit and a hearing was set for May 9. Subsequently a number of motions were filed by both parties. Today Judge James Otero filed an order on the motion and cancelled Monday’s hearing. While he did grant the City’s request to dismiss two of the causes of action, he declined to dismiss the main substance of the complaint. You can read it yourself, and some details follow after the break.

In the Judge’s summary, the City had argued that

…because they seize property pursuant to a Los Angeles city ordinance, this seizure does not transgress constitutional due process requirements. (Mot. 5-6.) Defendants also contend that the City provides a constitutionally-adequate remedy for Plaintiffs’ loss of property, in the form of replevin actions, which means that Defendants do not violate Plaintiffs’ due process rights. (Mot. 6.)

The response cited Otero’s order granting a preliminary injuction:

The Court is not persuaded by Defendants’ arguments, and therefore, DENIES Defendants’ Motion as to the due process cause of action. In its prior order, the Court already held that Plaintiffs demonstrate a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of their due process claim. (Prelim. Inj. Order. 7-8.) The prior holding controls the Court’s analysis of the instant Motion, because to qualify for a preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs had to meet a higher bar than they do now. The Court had to previously consider competing evidence, submitted by both parties, and then decide whether Plaintiffs had a high likelihood of prevailing on a due process claim. The Court now only determines if Plaintiffs allege sufficient facts in their FAC, taken as true, to state a cause of action for violation of procedural due process. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009). Plaintiffs meet this standard. Defendants’ alleged actions, seizing property from homeless people and then storing it in places that may be difficult to access, violate the Due Process Clause.

The other causes related to this one that he failed to dismiss are technically beyond my ability to discuss and you should read about them for yourself. Also, recall that the plaintiffs’ response alleged that the City violated various local court rules. While he did not take action on these allegations today, Otero nevertheless had some choice words regarding them:

The Court is troubled by these allegations. If Defendants canceled the telephonic conferences and only met and conferred via letters and email, Defendants’ actions do not comport with the Local Rules and the Initial Standing Order. These rules are in place to facilitate the litigation process and allow the Court to manage its docket effectively. In the interest of deciding the instant Motion on the merits, the Court addresses Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ legal arguments in this Order. The Court, however, cautions the parties to strictly comply with the Local Rules and the Initial Standing Order or face sanctions in the future.


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