Legal Efforts To Open Lunada Bay Faces Setback
US District Court Judge dismisses suit against City of Palos Verdes for complicity in Bay Boys’ harassment of outsiders
In a minor setback to legal efforts to open Lunada Bay to the public, on Monday, February 12th, US District Court Judge James Otero dismissed the federal suit against the city of Palos Verdes Estates.
Otero stated that the plaintiffs had not provided sufficient evidence that the city was complicit in acts of discrimination against non-resident surfers.
This ruling comes as no real surprise, legal standards of proof extend far beyond a mere, “It’s totally obvious that they’re cool with it.”
Furthermore, previous actions taken by the Palos Verdes Estates police, however half-hearted, were deemed sufficiently ardent to reject claims of complicity.
“Indeed, the record is replete with facts that demonstrate the city has been on notice of this harassment for years, and that some harassment continues to occur, ” Otero’s decision reads. “The record also clearly reflects, however, that the city did implement some measures in an attempt to deter harassment, even if those measures were not as effective or as strong as nonresidents would have liked. A city’s failure to effectively address certain crimes does not mean it is complicit in those crimes, and any evidence that would support the latter is either extremely weak or nonexistent.”
The plaintiff’s attorneys, Vic Otten of Torrance and Kurt Franklin, plan to appeal the decision.
“Trial courts make errors, that’s why we have appellate courts, and I’m respectful of Judge Otero, but it doesn’t mean I agree with him,” said Franklin. “There’s been no ruling in terms of the substance of the case as to the individuals and there’s been no ruling on the Coastal Act issues that are important to this case and the people of California. We’re in this case for the long haul.”
Otero’s decision, should it be upheld, would also effectively end the federal lawsuit seeking to classify the “Bay Boys” as a gang.
However it does not end the defendants potential liability as Otero ruled that those lawsuits, which have already been filed, belong in state court.
Pat Carey, attorney for ‘Jahlian” Johnston, a pseudo-hippie best known for incorporating garbage and clothing, attempted to paint his client as the victim of false charges.
“Over the last two years, he’s bore a lot of personal expenses to defend against the lawsuit, he’s taken out time from his travel to fly home internationally to appear at required court obligations,” Carey said. “He’s still frustrated that he’s had to go through that and he’s maintained his innocence through this process. He’s kind of been dragged through the mud, so he’s frustrated in that respect.”
A pragmatic person might point out that this is exactly the point of the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs have repeatedly stated that their suit is not about money, but opening Lunada Bay to nonresidents. High legal fees alone may prove enough to convince the “Bay Boys” of the error of their ways. While the recent ruling may feel like a victory to those charged, the reality is they will be paying their lawyers for quite a while longer.
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