A number of new documents have been filed in the National Lawyers’ Guild’s suit against the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District business improvement district for their disgraceful treatment of street vendors. Here’s a list, followed by my usual uninformed commentary:
- Joint Rule 26(f) report — This is a surprisingly interesting document. It’s evidently required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f), which regulates pretrial discovery agreements. For our purposes, though, it also seems to require that all the parties lay out their views of the case. This is especially interesting with respect to the Fashion District, which, even though it did answer the complaint, did so in a completely vacuous manner. There’s some substance here, and I discuss it after the break.
- Court Order re: Scheduling Conference — Here Judge O’Connell cancels a settlement conference that was to be held Monday, orders that the parties complete the dispute resolution process by December 4, 2017, and file a joint report on it within 7 days of its conclusion.
- Court Order re: Alternative Dispute Resolution — This order declares that the Alternative Dispute Resolution will be handled by the Magistrate Judge assigned to the case.
- Order for Civil Jury Trial With relevant dates — This is an order for a trial, to take place on January 30, 2018, and other relevant dates.
As I mentioned before, the most interesting of these new documents is the Joint Rule 26(f) report. This contains a brief summary of how each party sees the case, which is especially interesting with respect to the Fashion District BID, because they’ve kept shtum until now. Here are the parts that caught my eye:
This is pretty familiar by now, but for the same of completeness, here is part of the Plaintiffs’ view of the facts:
Plaintiffs are two street vendors and Unión Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes (Unión), an organization of street vendors that fights for fair and equal treatment of its members in Los Angeles. Collectively, they have brought this action to put an end to the City of Los Angeles and Fashion District Business Improvement District’s illegal practice of seizing and destroying street vendors’ property. Plaintiffs allege that the City, through the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and the Fashion District Business Improvement District (FDBID) seize and summarily destroy their belongings, without affording the vendors any opportunity to challenge the seizures or any opportunity to get their property back. These practices are wide-spread throughout the Fashion District in Downtown Los Angeles and are part of a practice and custom of the FDBID acting in concert with the LAPD, or at a minimum, the actions taken by specific FDBID officers was done with the knowledge and consent of the LAPD.
And what the City of Los Angeles thinks of the facts is also not a revelation, but there is one new twist, wherein we learn that if the City did confiscate stuff from the vendors without due process, it was the vendors’ own darned fault, and this is to be found in the City’s view:
Persons vending food illegally in the Fashion District often would run from the police and abandon the paraphernalia used in their food sales. In these situations, the person who ran away did not leave contact information with another person, nor would any person come forward to help the police identify the person who ran away. In other situations where LAPD officers patrol the Fashion District, officers may have cause to cite or arrest illegal vendors. The vendors’ property may have been seized during these operations. In these situations, vendors often would not give their names to officers and would disavow any further interest in the items seized.
And finally, here is the complete statement of the Fashion District BID’s view of the facts, which is especially interesting because they have kept completely quiet about how they see things. This is the first exposure of this material as far as I can tell. Of course, a huge part of the importance of this suit is that it’s the first time a BID in Los Angeles has been sued directly for its cooperation with the City in illegal activities,1 Our BIDs share information, strategy, everything, with one another, so study this well. No doubt we’ll be seeing some of the fundamental theories again as more of these suits get filed. In particular, note how they’re (a) not responsible, (b) they spend a lot of money cleaning stuff up because the City can’t do it, and (c) they’re really good friends with homeless people, who rely on them for their very sustenance. This shit we see all the time in BID world:
The BID collects an average of 6.4 tons per day of trash off the streets that encompass the BID. The BID not only contracts with Chrysalis, a non-profit that provides employment for the homeless, to collect the trash, but it pays to discard that trash in a landfill. Recyclables are separated when possible and are given to a couple (man and wife) that are homeless and that who turn them in to a recycling center. The BID makes no profit—ever—off collecting trash. The First Amended Complaint identifies three individuals, two of whom are named as plaintiffs, whose property the BID purportedly seized and trashed.
Investigation to date discloses the following. Aurelio Santiago,2 named as a plaintiff, is not only an illegal street vendor, he is an illegal street vendor who is selling ice cream in violation of California/County Health Department regulations. Mr. Santiago alleges that his property was seized by the LAPD and the BID, but in fact, his property was seized by the Los Angeles County Health Department after it concluded that it violated health department standards. Approximately a week after Mr. Santiago’s property was seized, he, his attorneys, and other street vendors went to the BID and demanded the return of his property. Mr. Santiago was informed that the BID did not have his property, and was given an opportunity to search the BID’s holding dock for his property. He told his attorney in Spanish that his property was not there (which others who spoke Spanish heard), but he walked off with property that was not his, not only with his attorney’s knowledge but authorization.
Maria Del Rosario Caal, not a named defendant, like Mr. Santiago, is also an illegal street vendor who is selling food stuffs in violation of California/County Health Department regulations. Mr. Santiago’s property was seized by the Los Angeles County Health Department after it concluded that it violated health department standards.
Wendy Puluc, named as a plaintiff, is an illegal street vendor. She alleges that her food stuffs were seized by the LAPD and the BID on a specific date. Investigation discloses that neither the LAPD nor the Los Angeles County Health Department was in the BID on the date she alleges, so she is either mistaken as to the date or the seizure did not occur;3 her attorneys were told this fact, first at a meet and confer in anticipation of the filing of motions for summary adjudication, and then again at the Scheduling Meeting of Counsel. Of the two incidents in the First Amended Complaint that can be identified, the BID assisted the Los Angeles Health Department in transporting the items seized under their authority and direction to a Los Angeles Health Department truck. The BID did not seize any property identified in the First Amended Complaint. There is no record of the third incident.
Image of street vendor both illegally and disgracefully arrested, shackled, and humiliated by the Hollywood BID Patrol is a public record and therefore not subject to copyright.