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Lavan v. City of Los Angeles
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
693 F.3d 1022 (2012)
The City of Los Angeles (defendant) routinely conducted sweeps of Skid Row homeless encampments to seize and destroy personal property that was left unattended. This policy was enforced pursuant to Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) § 56.11, which prohibited persons from leaving any articles of personal property on any parkway or sidewalk. The city was aware unattended property was often not abandoned. The seized personal property ranged from personal-identification documents to portable shelters. In 2011, homeless persons living in Skid Row (plaintiffs) left their personal property unattended on various occasions to perform basic, necessary tasks like using the restroom or attending court. The city seized the property although it had not been abandoned. The city also destroyed the property regardless of any danger posed by storing it or attempts by owners to retrieve it. Those homeless persons living in Skid Row sued the city, alleging violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. They applied for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enjoin the city from seizing and disposing of their property without notice. The district court granted the TRO, barring the city from seizing unabandoned property and destroying validly seized property for 90 days. The TRO also required the city to leave notice regarding how to reclaim property that was seized. The district court also issued a preliminarily injunction mirroring the terms of the TRO and reiterating the need for notice and an opportunity to be heard. The City of Los Angeles appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wardlaw, J.)
Dissent (Callahan, J.)
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