On August 3, 2021, the Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the County of Orange and against the Plaintiff in a racial discrimination and retaliation action following briefing by Natalie Price. The County of Orange argued on appeal that the District Court erred in holding that there was no causal nexus between the Plaintiff’s “protected activities” and the County’s adverse actions against her and that the District Court further erred when it denied her motion to enlarge time to conduct discovery and denied her motion to tax costs. The unanimous opinion adopted all of the arguments that Ms. Price advanced, including that the record did not support the Plaintiff’s contention that she was selected to work a mandatory overtime shift on account of her previous lawsuit against the County or that she was terminated on account of her previous lawsuit or “verbal protects” regarding the mandatory overtime shift assignment. The Ninth Circuit further agreed that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to re-open discovery and that Plaintiff waived her right to appellate review of the imposition of costs.
On March 29, 2021, the United States District Court, Central District of California granted, summary judgment in favor of the County of Los Angeles and individual Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homicide Detectives in Dominique Evans, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al. Plaintiffs, who were prosecuted for a 1997 cold case gang murder in Altadena, but ultimately acquitted, alleged that the County and two of its detectives, as well as the City of Pasadena and one of its detectives, fabricated evidence and coerced witnesses. Notwithstanding that several witnesses recanted their testimony, LBAC successfully argued that the remaining witness testimony and undisputed facts were sufficient to support the criminal court’s findings of probable cause and, therefore, Plaintiffs’ federal Section 1983, malicious prosecution, Bane Act, conspiracy, and false imprisonment claims failed as a matter of law.
On October 20, 2020, the Central District of California granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed on behalf of the County of Los Angeles, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer in a federal Second Amendment action challenging the County’s public health orders implemented to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. LBAC successfully argued that the County Defendants were entitled to judgment in their favor because the Plaintiffs – firearms retailers, Second Amendment advocacy groups including the NRA, and individual gun owners – lacked legal standing to bring their claims for injunctive and declaratory relief and nominal damages, and their Second Amendment claim failed as a matter of law. The Court agreed that the County’s health orders instituted public safety restrictions which reasonably fit with the compelling governmental interests at hand and dismissed the action in its entirety with prejudice.
On July 29, 2020, following oral argument by Natalie Price, the California Court of Appeal issued a decision affirming summary judgment in favor of the County of Orange in Vanessa Hamilton v. Orange County Sheriff’s Department, a FEHA employment action alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff, who had been dismissed from the Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Academy for dishonesty and significant performance deficiencies, claimed that her dismissal had been racially motivated. The trial court found no evidence of any improper motive or racial bias, and the Court of Appeal agreed that the substantial record clearly established that the challenged dismissal had been based on legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons, thereby barring Plaintiff’s claims in their entirety.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, LBAC has successfully defended the County of Los Angeles in a series of cases filed that involve allegation of wrongful police conduct related to the outbreak. In Brandy, et. al. v. Villanueva, et. al., the NRA, gun retailers, shooting range operators, and gun owners filed suit in federal court and immediately brought an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order against the Sheriff, County Public Health Director, State of California, and City of Los Angeles for restrictions against the gun industry as a result of the COVID-19 public health orders. Following briefing prepared by Jin Choi and Paul Beach, on April 6, 2020, the court entered an order upholding the County’s public health orders and denying plaintiffs’ ex parte application. In Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws, Inc., et. al. v. California Department of Justice, et. al., an organization that advocates for inmate rights and two individuals filed a petition for writ of mandate and civil complaint in state court against the State of California, the Attorney General, the County, and the Sheriff. As a result of risks posed by COVID-19, the plaintiffs immediately brought an ex parte application or an order to relieve convicted sex offenders of their obligations under the California Penal Code to periodically register in person at sheriff stations. After Mike Allen prepared briefing and appeared at multiple hearings, on April 17, 2020, the court entered an order denying plaintiffs’ ex parte application. Finally, in May, 2020, in Coullors, et. al. v. County of Los Angeles, et. al., in a lengthy complaint close to 100 pages long, the ACLU and six law firms from across the country brought suit in federal court on behalf of nine inmate plaintiffs and two inmate advocacy organizations against the County and the Sheriff. The plaintiffs immediately brought an ex parte application that included dozens of declarations and almost 50 pages of points and authorities, but refused to extend the one-day deadline for the defense to file opposition papers. With limited time to prepare opposition papers, Justin Clark and Paul Beach, with the assistance of County Counsel, were able to successfully obtain a dismissal of the entire action.