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Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2006 at 11:38 AM
The court ruled that the plaintiffs had not alleged facts or provided the court with evidence showing that the Farmers had engaged in a willful act in their use of the preliminary injunction that was not proper in the regular conduct of the legal proceedings. The court held that under case law in California, even if a party files an action that it knows is substantively meritless and does so for an improper purpose, these facts alone do not constitute a claim for abuse of process. The Horowitz plaintiffs had to show that the Farmers used the preliminary injunction in an improper way after they obtained it. The plaintiffs failed to allege or show in their opposition brief any such misuse of the injunction, and because they did not, the court granted the Farmers’ motion and dismissed the plaintiffs’ lawsuit.
Dan Stormer, Patrick Dunlevy, & Cornelia Dai
- Hadsell and Stormer, Inc.: (626) 585-9600
*For copy of court ruling, please call Carrie – (626) 585-9600
JUDGE ALARCON THROWS OUT RALPH HOROWITZ’S LAWSUIT
AGAINST THE SOUTH CENTRAL FARMERS
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Alarcon has dismissed the lawsuit developer Ralph Horowitz filed on February 23rd,2006 to retaliate against the South Central Farmers Feeding Families for having filed suit against him and the City of Los Angeles in order to save a 14-acre community farm in South Los Angeles. When the Farmers filed their lawsuit in 2003, they obtained a preliminary injunction that prevented the demolition of the 350 farm plots on the land. Mr. Horowitz and the City appealed the order granting the injunction, and in June of last year, the Court of Appeal reversed the order granting the injunction. In February of this year, Mr. Horowitz sued the South Central Farmers organization and 14 of the individual farmers contending that they had abused the legal system by obtaining the preliminary injunction. In his lawsuit, Mr. Horowitz sought 5,199.22 in damages and ,546,50 in attorneys’ fees.
Using a special statute designed to protect the right to free speech and public participation, the Farmers argued that the Horowitz lawsuit was merely an attempt to intimidate and punish them for having filed a lawsuit contesting the City’s sale of the property to Mr. Horowitz. In a written decision mailed to the parties late last week, Judge Alarcon agreed with the Farmers and granted their motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In a 13-page opinion containing numerous citations to the law regarding abuse of process, the judge ruled that the lawsuit was a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” and threw it out of court. “This was nothing more than a blatant attempt by Horowitz to use his money and power to abuse poor people,” says Dan Stormer, attorney for the South Central Farmers.
“The South Central Farmers are ecstatic about finally having found a small bit of justice in the legal system. Mr. Horowitz’s SLAPP lawsuit has strengthened our resolve to take the principled stand that we have been taking for the last 15 years in our community,” said Tezozomoc, spokesperson for the South Central Farmers.
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