BB&K Wins Dismissal of Contaminant Exposure Lawsuit
Summary Judgment Granted to Public Agency Landlord
A team of Best Best & Krieger LLP attorneys won dismissal of a complaint brought by a tenant who claimed he was exposed to hazardous substances at the Los Angeles Community College District-owned property he leased.
The property in South Gate, which served as a tire manufacturing facility from 1928 to 1980, was leased by the plaintiff beginning in 1993, for his warehouse business. Over the years, the property had several owners, including the District. The District acquired the property in 2009 to develop a new satellite college campus to serve the City of South Gate and surrounding communities. In 2015, when the District terminated the plaintiff’s tenancy to demolish the buildings and redevelop the property, he sued the District and the other former property owners in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking compensation for personal injury and loss of business from alleged exposure to hazardous substances. The District disputed those allegations. The plaintiff’s first complaint against the District was dismissed on summary judgment, but thereafter the court allowed him to file a second amended complaint. The second amended complaint alleged dangerous condition of public property against the District.
In July, the second amended complaint against the District was also dismissed on summary judgment by the court after the BB&K team argued that the plaintiff failed to prove that the District knew of the alleged dangerous condition in time to have taken measures to correct it before the plaintiff was harmed. The plaintiff claims he began to suffer from his alleged injuries in 1995, but did not suffer any new medical symptoms or ailments after the District took ownership of the property. So the District could not have been responsible for any of his alleged damages, the court concluded. It was undisputed that the District was not the cause of any contamination on the property.
The District was represented by Partner Gene Tanaka, Associate Ryan Guiboa and former BB&K attorney Dakotah Benjamin. Partner John Holloway has served as the District’s long-time special counsel on real estate and construction matters and worked with the trial team. The case is O’Brien v. Los Angeles Community College District, BC586440.