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Case Name Chua v. City of Los Angeles PN-CA-0046
Docket / Court 2:16-cv-00237-JAK-GJS(x) ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
This is a case about protestors being detained and arrested in downtown Los Angeles between November 24-26, 2014. On January 12, 2016, four protestors represented by private counsel and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) filed this § 1983 class action suit against the City of Los Angeles in the U.S ... read more >
This is a case about protestors being detained and arrested in downtown Los Angeles between November 24-26, 2014. On January 12, 2016, four protestors represented by private counsel and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) filed this § 1983 class action suit against the City of Los Angeles in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sought preliminary and permanent injunctions against the City and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), declaratory judgments that their rights had been violated, nullification of the arrests, and various damages and attorney’s fees. They claimed that the LAPD had violated their First Amendment rights through unlawful detention during a protest; that they were unreasonably detained, searched, and arrested in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights; that not being permitted release on recognizance while held in custody based on a perceived affiliation with nation-wide protests and purported engagement in “civil disobedience” violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process; and that their right to privacy under California state law was violated by compulsory disclosure and subsequent upload to a nationwide protestor database of personal information.

The protestors were marching in response to a grand jury’s refusal to indict a police officer for the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. At some point during the demonstration, protestors were kettled in by LAPD officers and prevented from leaving. The protest was deemed unlawful because it was blocking motorists, but plaintiffs contended in their complaint that the only traffic interference originated from the LAPD. The captain of the police then issued a “dispersal order,” informing them they would only be let go after individual questioning. Few of the protestors heard this order (the complaint states that the LAPD captain later admitted it was “inadequate”). The subsequent questioning involved being restrained in zip ties, patted down and searched, recorded on video, and forced to provide private identifying information.

This was not the first time the City and LAPD had been sued for similar practices. In 2005, the City agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit (National Lawyers Guild v. City of Los Angeles) brought by NLG that provided the LAPD would no longer prevent sidewalk protests, would not kettle protestors using their motorcycles, and would attempt to arrest individuals responsible for any unlawful conduct prior to declaring an unlawful assembly. The City had to settle again in 2009, stipulating that it would facilitate protests that may temporarily block traffic and set specific requirements for declaring an unlawful assembly. For more information, see MIWON v. City of Los Angeles. The complaint in this case alleged that the City had repeatedly failed to train its officers to adhere to any of these provisions, all of which were violated during the protests.

The plaintiffs moved for class certification on July 14, 2016. The court granted their motion in part on May 25, 2017. It certified a class entitled to seek damages defined as the "approximately 130 persons who were detained and arrested at 6th and Hope Streets on November 26, 2014, denied release on their own recognizance but never prosecuted." But the court declined to certify a class of protestors at a different intersection because the putative class representative was an NLG observer rather than a protester. It also declined to certify a class for injunctive relief consisting of all past and future protestors because "no objective criteria" existed to determine membership. 2017 WL 10776036.

On February 27, 2017, the parties began court-ordered mediation. However, after over a year of failure to agree on a settlement, the parties were ordered into private mediation on July 8, 2018.

The parties agreed to a provisional settlement on January 10, 2019, which after some modification Judge John A. Kronstadt approved on May 11, 2020. The plaintiffs were awarded a total of $750,000. $215,878.51 was put in a settlement fund for distribution to class members; $20,000 was awarded to the class representatives; and $476,801.93 was granted as attorney’s fees (the rest went to various court fees). Injunctive relief was not part of the settlement. The case is now closed.

Jack Kanarek - 11/06/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Disparate Treatment
Excessive force
False arrest
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Over/Unlawful Detention
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Los Angeles
Plaintiff Description Three protestors and a class of "approximately 130 persons who were detained and arrested at 6th and Hope Streets on November 26, 2014, denied release on their own recognizance but never prosecuted."
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 01/12/2016
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
C.D. Cal.
05/11/2020
2:16-cv-00237-JAK-GJS
PN-CA-0046-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
C.D. Cal.
01/12/2016
Complaint: Class Action Injunctive Relief and Damages [ECF# 1]
PN-CA-0046-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
04/27/2016
Complaint: Class Action Injunctive Relief and Damages [ECF# 15]
PN-CA-0046-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
05/25/2017
Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order Re Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification (DKT. 26) [ECF# 50] (2017 WL 10776036)
PN-CA-0046-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
03/31/2020
Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order Re Motion for Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs (DKT. 147); Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement (DKT. 151) [ECF# 158]
PN-CA-0046-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
05/11/2020
Judgment (DKT. 160) [ECF# 161]
PN-CA-0046-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Kronstadt, John Arnold (C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0003 | PN-CA-0046-0004 | PN-CA-0046-0005 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Standish, Gail J. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alarcon, Monique Amanda (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000
Flynn, Colleen (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0001 | PN-CA-0046-0002 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Hoffman, Paul L. (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0001 | PN-CA-0046-0002 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Litt, Barrett S. (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0001 | PN-CA-0046-0002 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Mullen, Colleen Marika (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0001 | PN-CA-0046-0002 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Ricketts, Morgan (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000
Schneeweis, Justine Marie (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0001 | PN-CA-0046-0002 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Sobel, Carol A. (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0001 | PN-CA-0046-0002 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Steinback, Rachel (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000
Strugar, Matthew D. (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0001 | PN-CA-0046-0002 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Sweetser, Catherine Elizabeth (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-0001 | PN-CA-0046-0002 | PN-CA-0046-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Chapman, Benjamin F (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000
Miller, Craig J (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000
Mitchell, Elizabeth Anne (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000
Plowden, Geoffrey R (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000
Shepherd, Surekha A (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0046-9000

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