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Case Against the Rules
by Ron Davis

Hopeful planners with a goal of becoming an addition to a California shopping center have, for now at least, failed to achieve their objective.

The shopping center is Northridge Center, in Los Angeles, and the applicants are officers of the Animal Protection and Rescue League Inc. Those officials clashed with the center’s owners when their demands met with rejection.

In response to their failed efforts, the animal-protection group pointed to the California Constitution and the California Unfair Competition Law. They therefore felt confident that they have a right to challenge the shopping center’s denial of their efforts. So they sued the center’s owners.

In response, a California court countered the lawsuit with an explanation regarding the standoff: “Federal jurisdiction, in a case like this one, is purportedly based on diversity selection. There is no question that the parties are diverse and that this lawsuit raises important issues. But it appears that the Animal Protection members have failed to allege an adequate amount of controversy to support federal jurisdiction.”

That explanation failed to prevent the continuing efforts of the hopeful Animal Protection group. Its members, after weeks of negotiation, decided not to proceed with their efforts. Their reason given: “because of on unlawful provision in the shopping center rules.” They instead decided to depend on a lawsuit seeking “declaratory and injunctive relief.”

As a result of that decision, the center’s management asked the court to dismiss the complaint for failure of the Animal Protection group to “state a claim under California law.”

Following that decision, the court concluded that continuing efforts might prove costly for both the shopping center’s owners and the hopeful Animal group. That warning, however, failed to deter the Animal Protection group. (Estimates of the cost to that group might amount to as much as $75,000.)

The judge in the case ruled in favor of the shopping center owners, explaining, “For the foregoing reasons, the claims of the Animal Protection and Rescue League, Inc. are dismissed but with leave to amend.”

(Animal Protection and Rescue League, Inc. v. Northridge Owner, L.P., 2016 WL, Slip Copy, 2016 WL 4447265)

Decision: October 2016
Published: October 2016



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