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FILED

September 2023: Western Center on Law and Poverty and Impact Fund have filed a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prevent a delay in providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to 40 million+ Americans. Congress must pass either appropriation bills or a “continuing resolution” to temporarily continue federal funding by September 30th, or else the federal government will shut down. The lawsuit asserts that the USDA should exercise available strategies to order the continuation of the SNAP benefits, while Congress works on passage of the funding bills. A week after filing, the USDA has committed to changing its accounting practice to now guarantee that over 40 million people will receive their SNAP benefits in October, beginning this year and continuing every year moving forward – regardless of a government shutdown.

SETTLED

August 2023: Alongside co-counsel Consumer Law Center, Inc. we settled a landmark charity case against Santa Clara Valley Healthcare, addressing the county’s failure to adequately inform patients with low and no incomes of the hospital’s charity care and discount payment policies. As a result, the County has updated their notices on how patients can qualify for free and discounted payments and expanded the number of languages notices are available in. An estimated 43,000 former patients of Santa Clara Valley Healthcare have received notice of possible billing corrections and refunds.

SETTLED

June 2023: The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE Action), Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), PolicyLink, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Public Counsel, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Covington & Burling LLP reached a landmark settlement against the California Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD). The agreement requires the California Department of Housing & Community Development to give pending and denied Emergency Rental Assistance Program or Housing is Key applicants a fair chance to receive COVID-19 rental assistance

SETTLED

June 2023: Freeman v. Riverside County – National Center for Youth Law and Western Center on Law and Poverty settled this class action lawsuit that challenged Riverside County’s practices of charging and collecting detention fees from parents and guardians with a child in the juvenile system. The court granted approval of a settlement that establishes a $540,307 fund to reimburse parents and guardians who made a detention fees payment to Riverside County in a juvenile case between December 21, 2016 through April 21, 2020. More information about the settlement and the notice for class members can be found here.

SETTLED

May 2023: Black Parallel School Board v. Sacramento City Unified School District. The Black Parallel School Board and plaintiffs charged the Sacramento City Unified School District with segregating Black students and Black students with disabilities. A settlement was reached that includes the District appointing an independent monitor who will develop and implement an Action Plan, increase inclusive placements, provide ongoing support and training for school staff, and help create a reliable data collection system.

FILED

May 2023: Murray v. City and County of San Francisco. Three San Francisco residents brought suit to challenge San Francisco’s County Adult Assistance Program’s failure to provide indigent applicants and recipients the information they need to know if their approval for or reduction of cash aid was correctly decided or that they can appeal erroneous decisions.

FILED

January 2023: Disability Rights California v. Newsom. A statute targeting unhoused individuals diagnosed as schizophrenic violates the California Constitution, according to a petition for an original writ of mandate filed in the California Supreme Court.  The CARE Act permits family members, police officers, and others to bring unhoused people before a CARE Court for a treatment plan even if they have done nothing wrong and are not a danger to themselves or others.    Individuals who fail to comply will be presumed to need a conservatorship, which will take away major life choices and can lead to institutionalization. Western Center and the Public Interest Law Project are co-counseling with lead counsel and sole client Disability Rights California.  

FILED

December 2022: People’s Collective for Environmental Justice v. County of San Bernardinoa coalition of environmental justice groups sued to challenge approval of a huge warehouse project in a mostly Latinx neighborhood already over-burdened with pollution and other environmental harms.  Plaintiffs claim that the project violates the California Environmental Protection Act; fair housing laws because of its effect on Latinx residents; and Western Center-sponsored legislation preventing localities from permanently reducing their housing stock. 

FILED

December 2022: Community Power Collective v. City of Los Angeles. Two sidewalk vendors filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles challenging its creation of “no-vending zones”, which prohibit sidewalk vending in many of LA’s most popular neighborhoods and tourist destinations. WCLP is working with Public Counsel, Arnold & Porter, Community Power Collective, East LA Community Corporation, and Inclusive Action for the City.

WON

July 2022: In June 2022, Western Center filed a lawsuit alongside Public Counsel, challenging the California’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Emergency Rental Assistance Program for failing to meet constitutional due process standards in their application denial process. A temporary injunction was granted in July 2022 which pauses ERAP denials until the Department can meet due process standards.

SETTLED

January 2022: Settlement in Warren V. City of Chico – After Legal Services of Northern California and Western Center won a preliminary injunction, the City of Chico agreed to build individual shelters for unhoused residents, and people can no longer be arrested or cited for sleeping outside when shelter is unavailable.

SETTLED

June 2022: In Hunger Action Los Angeles, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al.,Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Public Interest Law Project, and pro bono counsel Sidley Austin LLP, secured a permanent injunction requiring the county to process and approve emergency CalFresh applications in a timely manner. The injunction will impact thousands of vulnerable families experiencing dangerous food insecurity in Los Angeles County each month.

FILED

August 2022: Western Center filed Guardianship of Espinosa, alongside Public Counsel a lawsuit that attempts to establish a right to counsel in probate guardianship hearings.

FILED

August 2022: Western Center filed Tesfai v. Dept. of Health Care Services, alongside Bay Area Legal Aid, challenging the practice of denying replacement prosthetics to Medi-Cal Dental beneficiaries under conditions more restrictive than the governing statute allows.

SETTLED

December 2021: Western Center, Inland Counties Legal Services, and Public Interest Law Project settled our case against the County of San Bernardino, resulting in several changes to the county’s General Relief program to help more people in extreme poverty access vital financial assistance. General Relief is the program administered by California counties to provide cash assistance to adults without any other income or resources to meet their basic needs. The case prompted the county to make substantial changes to its General Relief process, making it easier to access and maintain moving forward. The biggest change is the dollar increase in assistance.

FILED

November 2021: Western Center filed a lawsuit alongside Disability Rights California on behalf of a parent group in Torrance, CA to stop discrimination against Latinx families seeking services at Harbor Regional Center.

FILED

November 2021: Western Center filed a lawsuit alongside Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and Public Interest Law Project against LA County for failing to follow state law for getting emergency food benefits to people who need it within three days.

WON

August 2021: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an ordinance in the City of Los Angeles deferring some rental obligations and severely limiting the grounds for evictions for the duration of the pandemic emergency. Western Center, co-counseling with Susman Godfrey, Public Interest Law Project, and Public Counsel, represents two community organizations who successfully intervened in defense of the ordinance.

SETTLED

May 2021: Western Center, Bay Area Legal Aid, Central California Legal Services, Multiforum Advocacy Solutions, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, and the National Health Law Program settled Rivera v. Kent. Hundreds of thousands of Californians with low incomes will now have speedier access to health care thanks to this seven-year lawsuit, which requires California’s Department of Health Care Services to allow eligible Medi-Cal applicants to receive health coverage right away, rather than waiting weeks for verification.

We filed this case on behalf of people like our plaintiff Frances Rivera, who lost her adult son to a treatable condition while he waited for the state to approve his Medi-Cal application. Shortly after he died—more than six months after he first applied—Rivera received her son’s approval for Medi-Cal.  

SETTLED

April 2021: Western Center and Impact Fund settled our lawsuit, Hall v. USDA, which we filed to challenge USDA guidance from 2020 that denied people receiving the maximum amount of SNAP food benefits the additional emergency allotments authorized by Congress for the pandemic – namely those with little or no income. Under the terms of the settlement, USDA agreed to stop enforcing the rule in California. The day following the settlement, USDA issued new guidance to provide emergency allotments to all SNAP households.

Western Center Litigation Docket December 2023

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