A little more than two weeks ago, federal district court judge James Otero denied class certification in the Lunada Bay Boys case, turning it into a merely personal dispute between a bunch of thuggish zillionaire surf-localist gangbangers and the few surfers brave enough to put their names on the case. Today, the plaintiffs filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking for permission to appeal Otero’s decision immediately, rather than, I guess, waiting until the whole case is done, which is probably the more normal time to appeal. This is a so-called interlocutory appeal, in other words, which is made before the case which gives rise to it is settled. Obviously it would cause chaos if lawyers were allowed to appeal every random decision a lower court judge made while the actual case was proceeding, which is probably why it’s necessary to (a) ask the Ninth Circuit for permission to appeal and (b) to argue that the case will suffer “irreparable harm” if the appeal of the given order, in this case denial of class certification, isn’t allowed to proceed while the underlying case is ongoing. The basic argument seems to be this:
Californians have a constitutional right to access their public beaches. Accordingly, Petitioners ask this Court for the opportunity to appeal now, so that their motion for class certification can be given proper consideration under the correct interpretation of rule 23. As this Court has recognized, there is no reason for a plaintiff to litigate to finality “when a certification decision is erroneous and inevitably will be overturned.”
Perhaps you recall that yesterday’s scheduled hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion to have their lawsuit against the putative Lunada Bay Boys certified as a class action was cancelled by the Judge on the grounds that he would be able to rule without hearing oral arguments. Well, this morning his order denying class certification hit PACER. I can tell you right now that his reasoning with respect to the conclusion that this case cannot proceed as a class action is completely beyond my ability to interpret sensibly, so you’ll have to figure that part of it out yourself.
The introduction to the order strikes me as pretty skeptical of the plaintiffs’ claims generally, and even a little sarcastic. For instance, in what must be for the plaintiffs a particularly disconcerting example of judicial humor, Otero begins his summary of the facts with the following pun: “Riding the wave of the Point Break remake, Plaintiffs initiated this putative class action lawsuit…” It can’t be pleasant to read insinuations from the judge that one’s lawsuit was essentially a movie tie-in! There are excerpts after the break.
Tonight I had the pleasure of receiving from self-proclaimed active member of the revitalized Hollywood community1 Jeffrey Charles Briggs almost 200 emails between the East Hollywood Business Improvement District and various far-too-friendly folks at the City of Los Angeles. For now these are available here on Archive.Org. They’re PDFs, but they’re that super-PDF-format that one can make with genuine Adobe software that embeds attachments right in there with clickable links.2 I have only been able to give these a cursory look-over, but I can already see a few crucial items. I’ll be writing on these matters as soon as I possibly can, but if you want a preview of one of them take a look at this juicy little number.
Well, just one day after I decided to add Cory Spencer v. Lunada Bay Boys to my PACER watchlist, an avalanche of opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion to have the thing turned into a class action suit hit the RSS feed. It’s all pretty interesting, and I have uploaded it all to the Archive.Org page that I made yesterday to host all this stuff on. There is a list of new items with links after the break, but the common theme of many of them, as exemplified in the Objection to Plaintiffs’ Evidence in Support of Motion for Class Certification, a 112 page behemoth with which most if not all of the individual defendants seem to have joined in, seems to go something like this:
There is no such thing as the Lunada Bay Boys.
But if there is such a thing as the Lunada Bay Boys, none of the defendants are members of it.
But if some or all of the defendants are members of it, they didn’t do any of the stuff alleged in the complaint.
But if they did do some or all of the stuff alleged in the complaint, they didn’t do it to the plaintiffs.
But if they did do it to the plaintiffs, there wasn’t really any cognizable damage.
But if there was cognizable damage, it’s not really possible to figure out who was damaged.
The City of Palos Verdes Estates (PVE) along with their Chief of Police take a slightly different tack in e.g. their opposition to the motion for class certification. Their theory seems to be that since one plaintiff said something nice about the PVE cops in 2016, they must be innocent all the way back to 1966. Perhaps that even makes sense (?!)
The story of the violent zillionaire surf-localism gang known as the Lunada Bay Boys and the ongoing federal lawsuit against them is well-explained in this L.A. Times article. Essentially generations of rich white surfer boys in Palos Verdes estates have for decades violently intimidated any outsiders who wanted to visit the public beach at Lunada Bay and they’re finally being called to account in federal court.1 So I finally had time to investigate the matter on PACER, and collected a ton of pleadings and orders on Archive.Org. Note that most of the early documents, including the initial complaint, are presently sealed because one of the defendants, now known as N.F., is a minor but was named in the early pleadings.
Of particular interest are twenty declarations made by various victims of the Lunada Bay Boys over the years, collected by the plaintiffs in support of their motion to certify the suit as a class action, which document endless sordid details of the astonishing violence and idiocy of the Lunada Bay Boys over multiple generations and many decades, as well as the complicity of the police and city government of Palos Verdes Estates. This material is so interesting that I made these twenty documents into a single eBook, with a table of contents and pagination and so on, to make them easier to read on a tablet or whatever. You can download a copy of that here from the Archive. Here are a couple examples of what’s in there, and there are plenty more after the break.
From the Declaration of John Macharg:
I was surfing Lunada Bay the morning of Jan. 29, 2016. The waves were big and my surfboard leash broke. My surfboard drifted to shore by the rocks near the patio. When I reached my board, David Melo walked down the patio stairs and immediately started harassing me by making statements like “You only come around here when the waves are good.” I responded by telling David that he had no right to question how or when I surf the Bay and that localism in general was wrong headed, unfair and illegal. At that point, Sang Lee butted in and began to argue with me. I told Sang that Lunada Bay was public property and did not belong to him. Sang poured out a portion of the beer that he was holding onto my head. I asked Sang if he was trying to start a fight and said “There is a cop right here.” Sang replied “It’s just beer.” There were several officers on the patio deck and one was observing from just a few feet to my right while I argued with Sang and David.
From the Declaration of John Carpenter (31 years on the Riverside PD):
During our walk down to the beach at Lunada Bay [in 1983 or 1984], we did not encounter many people. However, once we paddled out, we experienced Lunada Bay’s localized culture firsthand. There were about 6 surfers in the water, all of whom were male. Almost immediately after we paddled out, the other surfers started yelling at us, saying “you guys don’t belong here” and “get out of here.” They also called us names and cursed at us. These surfers also aggressively violated surf etiquette – they would drop in on my waves and cut me off. This behavior was dangerous because it required me to pull off a wave, which could have resulted in the waves pummeling me or could have caused me to crash into the nearby shallow rock reef. The experience was frustrating and dangerous because I risked getting injured by a Bay Boy each time I tried to surf a wave.
After about 45 minutes of suffering from the Lunada Bay Boys’ harassment, Sue and I felt too uncomfortable so we decided to leave. When we got back to the car, we discovered that Sue’s car antenna had been mangled and that someone had vandalized the car by smearing surf wax on it. They wrote derogatory words about Sue being a woman. Based on my friends’ experiences and my 45 minutes of trying to surf at Lunada Bay, I was almost positive that the Lunada Bay Boys were responsible for this vandalism.
Due to this negative experience, I have not returned to surf Lunada Bay. When I recently heard that the intimidation and exclusionary behavior at Lunada Bay is still occurring – more than 30 years after I experienced it firsthand – I was shocked. As a law enforcement professional, I know that the conduct taking place at Lunada Bay is no different than criminal gang activity. Like a criminal gang, the Lunada Bay Boys have taken over a public place and use intimidation tactics to scare others to stay off their turf.
In response to this conduct, the City of Palos Verdes Estates’ police should have taken action to address the issues and treat the situation like a gang injunction. For example, they should have set up cameras, conducted surveillance, and prosecuted wrongdoers based on the complaints they received. Instead, the City and the police ignore the complaints or take down reports of aggression but then fail to follow up and investigate and prosecute the wrongdoers.
In July of this year the plaintiffs in Chua v. City of Los Angeles, based on LAPD misconduct during 2014 protests concerning Michael Brown, filed a motion for certification as a class action suit. The City of Los Angeles did not oppose the motion. But, of course, even if the parties to a suit agree, these things are still up to the Judge. A hearing on the motion was held on November 7, and Judge Kronstadt stated his “tentative views that [he] is inclined to grant in part Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification. However, evidently he still had some questions about his decision, because he instructed the plaintiffs to supplement their motion for class certification with some additional briefs, which were due and filed last Monday, the 14th of November. They are linked to directly below, and you can find some quotations and uninformed discussion after the break.
Interestingly, those minutes also note that the City isn’t presently interested in settling matters:
The Court confers with counsel regarding settlement. Plaintiffs are open to participating in a settlement conference now while defense counsel believes it is premature at this time.