Public BLAWG Blog

Calistoga Case: Not Just Anyone Can Sue A City!

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It is a fundamental concept in litigation that the party seeking relief must have some real, beneficial interest in the outcome of the case.  A plaintiff cannot sue a city or other public entity simply because he or she does not like a certain policy or practice; the plaintiff must have standing to bring the lawsuit, which may either be conferred by law or because the plaintiff has suffered some sort direct or indirect harm. A February 3 published decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal clarifies this concept further, finding that neither a plaintiff’s status as a payer of sales tax in a given area—nor as a state citizen seeking redress for past government misconduct—meet the requirements for bringing such an action.

Third Time Is The Charm: CalPERS May Appeal City Of San Bernardino’s Bankruptcy Eligibility To Ninth Circuit

A federal judge has ruled that CalPERS may appeal to the Ninth Circuit a bankruptcy judge’s decision allowing the City of San Bernardino’s petition for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  As we previously reported here, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury ruled in August that San Bernardino is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Ninth Circuit Upholds Plaintiff Attorneys’ Fee Award Over 25 Times the Jury Award in Discrimination Case

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding the prevailing plaintiff $697,971.80 in attorneys’ fees where the jury awarded her only $27,280 in damages.  The clear message from the decision is that even relatively modest legal transgressions under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) can result in a significant damage award against an employer.

And The Beat Goes On . . .

The Associated Press is reporting that the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) filed suit against the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) alleging Freedom of Information Act violations, claiming the agency collaborated with the financial industry (banks) to block cities from using eminent domain to prevent foreclosures.   The ACLU and other groups requested information regarding and supporting FHFA’s decision to oppose the City of Richmond’s plan to seize land through eminent domain in order to prevent foreclosures.   The suit seeks an order directing the FHFA to turn over all documents related to communications and meetings with financial industry groups and banks,  including those relating to Richmond’s offer to buy underwater mortgages from residents.

Judge Rejects CalPERS’ Second Attempt to Appeal San Bernardino’s Bankruptcy Eligibility To Ninth Circuit

CalPERS is the City of San Bernardino’s largest creditor, with the City owing the pension fund $17 million, plus growing interest, late fees and penalties. In August, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury ruled that San Bernardino is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.  In November, Judge Jury denied without prejudice CalPERS first attempt to take a direct appeal from Judge Jury’s ruling. On Friday, November 15, 2013, Judge Jury rejected a second CalPERS motion for leave to file a direct appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, a party must seek leave to appeal an interlocutory eligibility determination to a federal appeals court. See FRBP 8001(b). Judge Jury’s decision isn’t the end of the road for CalPERS; it can still ask a U.S. District Court judge to review the bankruptcy court’s eligibility ruling, which the Sacramento Bee reports it has already done.

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