Significant Cases

Garrett v. City of Escondido, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, Case No. 06-CV-2434 JH, decision reported at 465 F. Supp. 2d 1043 (S.D. Cal. 2006)

Nature of case: challenge to enforcement of ordinance adopted by City of Escondido requiring landlords to document citizenship status of tenants.

Achievements in this case:  Court issued Temporary Restraining Order against enforcement of ordinance on constitutional grounds; City of Escondido agreed to repeal ordinance in response.

Why this case was significant: A number of these ordinances were adopted throughout the United States at the time.  This was the largest municipality to do so, and obtaining this relief was beneficial not only to residents of Escondido but largely helped halt the adoption of similar ordinances nationwide, as well as the adoption of legislation in California to preclude adoption of similar ordinances.

UCAN v. SBC Communications, Cal. Pub. Util. Comm’n, Case No. C.05-11-011, Cal. PUC. Decision D.08-08-017

Nature of case: Adjudicatory administrative proceeding challenging AT&T’s adoption of policy to terminate 911 emergency service at residences in California after limited period of time, contrary to provisions of Public Utilities Code.

Achievements in this case: Decision by PUC requiring AT&T to revise policy to ensure all residences in California have access to 911 service, plus $1.7 million in penalties for failure to do so.

Why this case was significant: helped to ensure that even if California residents have not turned on hard line service or have had it terminated, still will have access to 911 service in the event of an emergency, particularly for those who do not have cellular telephone service or if there is a natural disaster and cell phone service is interrupted as a result.

Jordan v. DMV, Sac. Super. Ct. Case. No. 95 AS 3903, 75 Cal. App. 4th 449

Nature of case: constitutional challenge to $300 Smog Impact Fee and requesting rebates to consumers.

Achievements in this case: Fee found unconstitutional; legislation provided for refunds of over $350 million to consumers who paid these fees.

Why this case was significant: Stopped the collection of an unconstitutional fee and through appellate decision helped to establish deterrent for adoption of similar fees imposed against new residents. Legislation helped to create one of the most extensive refund programs implemented by State of California, providing hundreds of millions of dollars to persons who under the then current state of the law would likely not have obtained such refunds.

Nelson v. Virgin Mobile, U.S. Dist. Ct. S.D. Cal., Case No. 05 CV 1594 – AJB

Nature of case: Consumer class action challenging legality of fees imposed in a pay as you go cellular telephone service.

Achievements in this case: Settlement providing over $7.5 million in refunds and credits to consumers nationwide.

Why this case was significant: was a significant class settlement that promptly resulted in adoption of practice changes and used creative class notice methods by using text messaging to current users as part of program.

In Re Cingular Wireless Litigation, Cal.  J.C.C.P. Case No. 4348; Cal. P.U.C. Case No. 02-06-003, 140 Cal. App. 4th 718

Nature of case: coordinated proceedings in both state court and at Public Utilities Commission challenging Cingular wireless no grace period policy for imposing Early Termination Fees.

Achievements in this case: Negotiated a resolution at PUC and state court that resulted in the adoption of an $18 million comprehensive refund program plus a cy pres grant of over $1 million.

Why this case was significant: was complex litigation spanning six years and requiring coordination not only among counsel but also between state court and administrative agency; refund program we negotiated and  adopted is considered a model for future PUC refund programs; also resulted in significant court of appeal decision regarding scope of PUC powers.