January 20, 2018

Weekly litigation report—January 20, 2018

By James S. Burling Vice President for Litigation

Amicus brief filed in case that asks who can appeal in certain cases involving government agencies

We filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to take up Scott Timber Co. v. Oregon Wild. The case involves an Oregon timber sale that was opposed by a group of environmentalists on the grounds that the federal government didn’t fully study the impacts of the sale on the forest even though the area in question was designated for timber harvesting. The district court agreed and vacated the contract between the government and Scott Timber Co. unless and until the government performed an additional costly and time consuming assessment. Scott Timber appealed and asked the Ninth Circuit to hold that the sale complied with the law; but on appeal, the court held that only government agencies could appeal a decision of this type, and was unswayed by the fact that the government had informed Scott Timber that it would not complete the assessment. Our brief points out the problems that the Ninth Circuit’s rule exacerbates, and notes that the Supreme Court’s prior decisions warrant an appeal in this case. For more on the case, read our blog post.

Warrantless home inspections challenge continues

Last week, the City filed a motion seeking to dismiss our complaint.  The complaint challenges Santa Barbara’s ordinances requiring that the owners of single-family owner-occupied residences must submit to an inspection of the interior and exterior of the home prior to its sale.  While administrative inspections are sometimes permitted for rental homes and multi-family residences, there is no valid reason for government to inspect private homes at the time of sale.  The City fails to understand the distinction between owner-occupied homes and rental homes and have challenged everything from the statute of limitations to the merits of the claims.  Our response will be due on February 9th and the hearing on the City’s motion will be held on February 26th.

Seattle takes away landlord’s right to choose tenants

On Wednesday, the City of Seattle filed a motion for summary judgment defending its oppressive first-in-time rule in Yim v. City of Seattle. The first-in-time rule takes away landlords’ right to choose their own tenants, which we argue is an unconstitutional taking of property rights under clear state Supreme Court caselaw. You can read a prior blog post about the case here.

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