University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Lavan v. City of Los Angeles PN-CA-0041
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-02874-PSG ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Case Summary
On April 5, 2011, several homeless individuals filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Plaintiffs sued the City of Los Angeles under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, alleged that the City violated their Fourth, Fifth, and ... read more >
On April 5, 2011, several homeless individuals filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Plaintiffs sued the City of Los Angeles under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, alleged that the City violated their Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights when it seized and destroyed their personal possessions. Plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunction, declaratory judgment that plaintiffs' rights were violated by the defendant, monetary damages, and attorneys’ fees.

On April 22, 2011, the court filed an order granting a temporary restraining order against the City. 2011 WL 1533070. This was followed by a preliminary injunction, granted by the court on June 23, 2011. 797 F.Supp.2d 1005.

The City responded with several appeals over the next few years. On July 25, 2011, the City appealed the order for preliminary injunction. After first ordering the parties to explore the possibility of mediation, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the City’s appeal. 693 F.3d 1022.

On April 29, 2013, the City filed an ex parte application for an order modifying the preliminary injunction to conform with the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Essentially, the City had a problem with the language in the preliminary injunction. While the injunction issued by the trial court prohibited the City from seizing property, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals used language in their denial that prohibited the City from performing the combined act of seizing and destroying property. The City wanted this narrower language construed in the injunction. On June 17, 2013, the trial court denied the application, saying that the City failed to identify any change in law or circumstances that would support a modification.

On July 17, 2013, the City again appealed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, this time about the trial court’s denial of modification of preliminary injunction. The City later decided they would not pursue this appeal and filed a motion to dismiss it, which was granted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 1, 2014. Back in trial court, Plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment on April 20, 2014, which the court denied on July 24, 2017. 2014 WL 12693524.

On December 15, 2015, after several settlement conferences, the parties filed a joint notice of tentative settlement. The City agreed to pay $822,000 plus attorneys’ fees to settle the case. Though this settlement is not found in the pleadings, please see this LA Times article regarding the settlement. On July 25, 2016, the court issued an order dismissing the action with prejudice against the City. This case established precedent that the Los Angeles Police Department cannot “summarily [destroy] the property of homeless individuals without notice.” 693 F.3d 1022.

Katie Chan - 10/06/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Los Angeles
Plaintiff Description all individuals who are homeless and reside in the Skid Row area whose personal belongings have or will be taken and immediately destroyed by the agents and employees of the defendant CITY without any notice and opportunity to retrieve the property, which was not abandoned by the plaintiff class members.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Conditional Dismissal
Filing Year 2011
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  L.A. agrees to pay nearly $950,000 in two cases involving the homeless
L.A. Times website
Date: Jun. 14, 2016
By: Emily Alpert Reyes
Citation: L.A. agrees to pay nearly $950,000 in two cases involving the homeless Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-attorney-fees-homeless-case-20160613-snap-story.html (last visited Oct 6, 2017)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Homeless Claim L.A. Blew Off Court Orders
Courthouse News
Date: Apr. 16, 2013
By: Matt Reynolds
Citation: Homeless Claim L.A. Blew Off Court Orders, https://www.courthousenews.com/homeless-claim-l-a-blew-off-court-orders/ (last visited Oct 6, 2017)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Owning Property Without Privacy: How Lavan v. City of Los Angeles Offers Increased Fourth Amendment Protection To Skid Row's Homeless
Date: Apr. 1, 2013
By: Benjamin G. Kassis (Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Law Student)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
11-2874-PSG (C.D. Cal.)
PN-CA-0041-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint: Civil Rights [ECF# 1]
PN-CA-0041-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/05/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Civil Minutes - General [ECF# 29] (C.D. Cal.)
PN-CA-0041-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/23/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Appeal: "Preliminary Injunction Appeal" [ECF# 35]
PN-CA-0041-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint: Civil Rights [ECF# 152]
PN-CA-0041-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/27/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Notice of Tentative Settlement, Request to Vacate Trial Date, and for the Court to Retain Jurisdiction to Complete the Settlement [ECF# 166]
PN-CA-0041-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/02/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Dismissing the Action With Prejudice [ECF# 173] (C.D. Cal.)
PN-CA-0041-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Gutierrez, Philip S. (C.D. Cal.)
PN-CA-0041-0002 | PN-CA-0041-0006 | PN-CA-0041-9000
Wistrich, Andrew J. (C.D. Cal.)
PN-CA-0041-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Feuer, Michael (California)
PN-CA-0041-0005
Given, John P (California)
PN-CA-0041-9000
Sobel, Carol A. (California)
PN-CA-0041-0001 | PN-CA-0041-0004 | PN-CA-0041-0005 | PN-CA-0041-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brente, Cory M. (California)
PN-CA-0041-0003 | PN-CA-0041-0005 | PN-CA-0041-9000
Geuss, Gary G. (California)
PN-CA-0041-0003
Pessis, Surekha A. (California)
PN-CA-0041-0003 | PN-CA-0041-9000
Plowden, Geoffrey R (California)
PN-CA-0041-0005 | PN-CA-0041-9000
Shapero, Wendy C. (California)
PN-CA-0041-0005 | PN-CA-0041-9000
Trutanich, Carmen A. (California)
PN-CA-0041-0003

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