The Suit Goes On: Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell Files (Moderately Sarcastic) Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Dismiss Street Vending Lawsuit

Federal Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell, in whose court the NLG's street vending case is being heard.
Federal Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, in whose court the NLG’s street vending case is being heard.
This is just a quick note to memorialize the fact that, after the City of Los Angeles filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against it and the Fashion District BID brought by a number of downtown street vendors, tonight Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell filed a 16 page order denying everything, which of course means that the case will go on.1 The standard for denying a motion to dismiss is essentially that the plaintiff “…pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” The Judge found that they had, so the case will go on. Recall also that there was a hearing on the City’s motion scheduled for Monday, November 21. O’Connell canceled this hearing because “the Court deems this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument of counsel.” That’s gotta hurt.

Briefly, one of the arguments raised by the City of LA is that the vendors’ organization, the Unión Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes, lacks standing to sue.2 More on this and some quotated snark after the break.

It seems that the criteria for deciding whether an organization has standing are threefold:

An organization may have representational standing to bring a claim on behalf of its members (1) “when its members would have standing to sue in their own right,” (2) “the interests at stake are germane to the organization’s purpose,” and, (3) “neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires individual members’ participation in the lawsuit.”

The Judge notes that the City seems to accept that the first two criteria are met and only disputes the third, which they seem to do by claiming that Unión is asking for its members’ property to be returned or that they be compensated for it, and that arguments related to such issues require the participation of the individual members in the fact-finding process. The Judge shuts that right down: “Defendants apparently misunderstand Unión’s requested relief.” More of this kind of (I think) sarcasm can be found in the various footnotes in this section:3 “Defendants provide no authority for this proposition in their Motion.” or again, “Further, Defendants failed to provide any argument further illuminating this point in their Reply.” I know the Judge is only deciding whether the plaintiffs’ made a plausible case here, not whether they’re going to win, but she sounds already a little fed up with the City’s arguments. It doesn’t seem to bode well for the defense.

Just as a closing note, and even though since the motions being denied here were all moved by the City the Fashion District BID isn’t discussed much in this document, O’Connell does mention it briefly in her summary of the facts of the case:

Defendant Fashion District BID is a Business Improvement District (“BID”) initially created by the City of Los Angeles in 1998 and currently funded by the City.

This is based on the description in the first amended complaint, but it’s heartening to see, yet again, a statement in an official record to the effect that the City creates and funds business improvement districts. Of course, everyone denies it,4 but it’s obviously true. This statement has no wider significance, but it’s very pleasant to read nevertheless.

Image of Judge Beverly O’Connell is a public record.

  1. The City also filed a motion to strike some material from the complaint. This was also denied, but is less interesting, so I’m skipping over it.
  2. Unión’s claim is based on the argument that they exist to further the goals of the street vendors, but that the City’s and the BID’s illegal activities force them to waste their time and resources defending their members.
  3. The legal issues being addressed are explained in the order itself, probably more clearly than I will ever be able to do here.
  4. Except the judiciary, which is the branch of government that matters for this issue at this stage of our political development.

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