Recent News

Court of Appeal Finds Deed Restrictions Apply and are Enforceable in Palos Verdes Estates

Today the Court of Appeal issued its decision in the long simmering dispute over the City of Palos Verdes Estates’ sale of parkland. A copy of the decision can be read here. In sum, the Court of Appeal agreed that summary judgment should have been granted as to the Palos Verdes Homes Association (“Homes Association”) and the Luglianis. Their actions violated deed restrictions. The Court of Appeal, however, found that the relief fashioned in the judgment should be limited solely to the Panorama Parkland and not impact all 800 acres of parkland in the City. The Court of Appeal has ordered the trial court to issue a more narrow judgment against the Homes Association and the Luglianis. The Court of Appeal found that neither my clients nor the City were entitled to summary judgment and instead the matter should proceed to trial against the City.

I am grateful that the Court of Appeal today confirmed the essence of what my clients have been saying since 2012: “that the deed restrictions mean what they say—Parcel A is intended to be parkland for the community.” (Opinion, p. 14). The parkland case is now over as to the Homes Association and the Luglianis. The Court of the Appeal has affirmed the grant of summary judgment as to the Homes Association and the Luglianis finding there was no question of fact to be tried regarding the Homes Association and the Luglianis’ actions. Per the Court of Appeal:  “We do not agree with the Association and the Luglianis that their actions were proper; the transfer of property from the Association to the Luglianis violated certain deed restrictions.” (Opinion, p. 3). The case will now be remanded to discuss the proper form of the judgment to be entered against the Homes Association and the Luglianis.

As for the City, the case will move forward to trial. The Court of Appeal ruled that neither the City nor my clients were entitled to receive summary judgment due to the existence of fact questions about the City’s intentions in conveying parkland. It remains to be seen what the City will do. Will the City continue to fight in court for the “right” for the City to liquidate the City’s 800 acres of parkland? I hope for the community’s sake that the City does not waste more legal fees to fight for a right that no residents want the City to assert. The City should take no solace in the fact that the summary judgment was reversed as to the City. The Court of Appeal observed: “While the City may have had the right to transfer Parcel A to the Association, it may not have had the right to do so if it knew that the Association was going to transfer Parcel A to the Luglianis.” (Opinion, p. 10). That is precisely the intent of the MOU – to get a public park into the hands of the Luglianis. I am confident that if this matter proceeds to trial against the City that the court will conclude that the City’s objective — to get the Panorama Parkland into the hands of the Luglianis will be found to be improper.

On a personal note, having represented the plaintiffs and respondents pro bono since 2013, I was gratified that the Court of Appeal concluded by finding that “the public did benefit from this litigation—namely through the protection of a public park.” (Opinion, p. 19).

PV Homes Fails to Get Quorum for Board Election, Jeff Lewis to Return to Court

The Daily Breeze reports here on the going legal dispute over the quorum for board elections for the Palos Verdes Homes Association:

The next hearing is set for Feb. 15, where Jeff Lewis, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he will ask the judge to lower the threshold for a quorum. A quorum hasn’t been reached since 2009. In 2017’s election, just 1,589 votes were cast.

PV Parents Call on School Board to Resolve Threat of Murder Suspect Attending PV High School

The Daily Breeze reports on a parent group upset that PV High allowed a suspect in a gang murder to continue attending PV High. From the article:

On Monday, attorney Jeffrey Lewis said about a dozen parents forming the group Residents Against Gangs at School sent a letter to the Palos Verdes Peninsula school board asking for Terrell to be removed from campus and home-schooled, or transferred to a continuation school. He said the district was “needlessly exposing itself to moral and financial liability should any harm befall any student due to Terrell’s continued attendance at school.”

“The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District has been silent about what steps are being taken to protect Palos Verdes children from Terrell and his accomplices,” the letter said. “While Terrell does enjoy the presumption of innocence in a court of law, there are serious safety concerns raised by Terrell’s continued attendance at school. At best, Terrell is a distraction to teachers, staff and other students. At worst, most law enforcement officers would say that allowing an 18-year old gang member suspected of a felony to attend a high school presents a clear and present danger to other students.”

Judge rules Palos Verdes Peninsula school board violated open meetings law

From Today’s Daily Breeze:

A Superior Court judge has ruled that the Palos Verdes Peninsula school board twice violated California’s open meetings law in 2016 as it was putting an end to an agreement to install solar panels in district schools.

Torrance Superior Court Judge William Fahey, in a tentative ruling Sept. 5 that likely will stand, sided with a group of residents who sued the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District Board of Education for alleged violations of the Brown Act.

The prevailing parties were represented by Jeff Lewis.

Jeff Lewis will represent Ted Rall in First Amendment appeal over defamatory comments by the LA Times

Ted Rall is a political cartoonist and syndicated columnist. For many years his cartoons were run in the Los Angeles Times. The LA Times stopped running his work after the LAPD claimed that Rall made false statements about the LAPD in a Rall piece that was critical of the LAPD and chronicled an incident when Rall was handcuffed by the LAPD for jaywalking. Rall sued the LA Times for defamation. The LA Times brought an anti-SLAPP motion and the lawsuit against the Times was dismissed. Rall will appeal that ruling and I am honored to represent him in this important First Amendment case about the outer boundaries of the anti-SLAPP law.