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Barrientos v. 1801-1825 Morton, LLC

No. CV 06-06437 (C.D. Cal. filed Oct. 13, 2006), aff'd in part, 583 F.3d 1197 (9th Cir. 2009)

Summary:

Tenants receiving enhanced vouchers seek to prevent property owners, under the Unified Enhanced Voucher Authority Statute and the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, from evicting them for a business or economic reason.

Complaint [PDF; 580K]

Claims include:
* The defendant-owners violated the Unified Enhanced Voucher Authority Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(t) by terminating the tenancies of the plaintiff-tenants who were receiving enhanced vouchers
* The defendant-owners violated the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, L.A. Mun. Code § 151.09.A, by terminating the tenancies of the plaintiff-tenants for a business or economic reason

Factual Stipulation [DOC; 74K]

* Morton Gardens was developed as a low-income rental housing project through a federal mortgage-secured loan subsidy program under Section 236 of the National Housing Act of 1934, 12 U.S.C. §1715z-1
* In 1998, the defendants prepaid the Section 236 loan
* In June 2006, the defendants served “90 Day Notices of Tenancy Termination” to the plaintiffs
* The notices specify a business or economic reason as the basis for the termination of the plaintiff’s tenancies

Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [DOC; 119K]

* Tenants with enhanced vouchers have a right to remain in their units under the Unified Enhanced Voucher Authority Statute
o Two federal district courts have ruled this statute grants enhanced voucher tenants a right to remain – Estevez v. Cosmopolitan Assocs. LLC, 2005 WL 3164146; 2005 LEXIS 29844 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 28, 2005) and Jeanty v. Shore Terrace Realty Ass’n, 2004 WL 1794496; 2004 LEXIS 15773 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 10, 2004)

* Plaintiffs’ apartments are protected by the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (“LARSO”), which stipulates permissible grounds for eviction and proper notice procedures

o The notice provided to plaintiffs does not meet LARSO requirements
o LARSO is not preempted by federal law because it is generally applicable

Defendant's Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment [PDF; 816K]

Plaintiff's Reply on Summary Judgment [PDF; 916K]

Amicus Brief of City of Los Angeles in Support of Plaintiffs [PDF; 89K]

Amicus Brief of California Apartment Association in Support of Defendant Owner [PDF; 821K]

Plaintiff's Reply to Amicus Brief of CAA [PDF; 583K]

Defendant's Reply to Amicus City of LA [PDF; 686K]

Court's Order Requesting Supplemental Briefing on Implied Preemption [PDF; 76K]

Defendant's Brief in Response to Court's Aug. 16 Order [PDF; 526K]

Addresses court's question of whether, if HUD's regulation on voucher evictions is intended to preempt local law, HUD has exceeded its statutory authority.

Plaintiffs' Brief in Response to Court's Aug. 16 Order [DOC; 92K]

Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [PDF; 1536K]

Defendants' Motion to Reconsider or Amend Judgment [PDF; 513K]

Seeks reconsideration on basis that owner sought to evict based on "business or economic" grounds besides desire to seek higher rents that court invalidated, specifically the alleged excessive costs of compliance with Section 8 requirements.

Plaintiffs' Response to D's Motion to Reconsider [PDF; 814K]

Argues that judgment was correct, and that additional grounds would also be insufficient as a matter of law.

Order re Defendant's Motion to Reconsider and Amend Judgment [PDF; 636K]

October 24 Order affirms prior order and also rejects any additional "business or economic" grounds, such as alleged excessive costs of regulatory compliance, that are not permitted by local tenant protection laws.

Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorney's Fees [DOC; 98K]

Argues that plaintiffs are entitled to attorney's fees both as a matter of contract law and under the terms of the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
# Contract Law: The express terms of the leases provided for recovery by the prevailing party of reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in an enforcement action or proceeding. Plaintiffs here pursued litigation to preserve their tenancies and by extension, their leases, and thus the action is covered by the attorney's fee provision of the leases.
# Ordinance: City rent stabilization ordinance provides for recovery of attorney's fees from any person who demands, accepts or retains any payment of rent in excess of maximum allowed under the ordinance. Defendant's notice indicating intent to terminate HAP contract and raise rents to market rate would have readily exceeded the maximum allowed under the ordinance.

Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorney's Fees [PDF; 1283K]

Offers a number of arguments against the granting of attorney's fees, most of them procedural or evidentiary in nature, such as that the motion should be denied because the existence of a contractual attorney's fee provision was not proven prior to judgment.

Plaintiff's Reply to Defendant's Opposition to Motion for Attorney's Fees [DOC; 101K]

Refutes the largely procedural and evidentiary claims in defendant's opposition motion, particularly arguing that plaintiffs were not required to introduce evidence of a contractual attorney's fee provision at the summary judgment stage since the fee motion is a collateral matter.

Order re Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorney's Fees [PDF; 43K]

Holds that a contractual attorney's fee provision may be offered into evidence for the first time in a post-judgment motion for fees and thus, after determining the reasonableness of fees, grants the entire fee amount requested based on the contractual fee provision of the leases. Court does not reach the issue of whether attorney's fees were alternatively available under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

Appellant's Opening Brief [PDF; 2.12 MB]

Tenants' Brief Submitted Aug. 4, 2008 [PDF; 3.34 MB]

AARP amicus Barrientos brief (final 9-17) [PDF; 83.29 KB]

Letter from 9th Circuit to US requesting views (April 17, 2009) [PDF; 66.21 KB]

Barrientos, United States Amicus Brief[PDF; 232.96 KB]

HUD Notice PIH 2009-18 re no preemption of state & local eviction protections[PDF; 16.86 KB]

Barrientos 9th Cir. Opinion (Oct. 9, 2009)[PDF; 149.15 KB]

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