January 28, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Veterans Suit Against West L.A. VA Will Go Forward:

The lawsuit challenging VA policies that deny permanent housing on the West Los Angeles VA campus to veterans will now go forward, after the federal court in Los Angeles denied, for the most part, defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.

On Friday, March 16, U.S. District Court Judge James Otero issued a 41-page decision in Valentini v. Shinseki denying the motion to dismiss that had been filed last October by defendants Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Donna Beiter, Director of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLAHS) as to three of the six claims presented in the complaint.

The class action suit was filed in June 2011 by disabled homeless veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America, charging that “the VA has eliminated permanent housing for disabled veterans, many of whom now literally sleep outside its walls, and it now leases portions of the property to private companies.”

John Ulin of Arnold & Porter LLP, one of plaintiffs’ lawyers in the suit, said, “Thanks to this afternoon’s brave and careful decision by the United States District Court, (veterans) will, at least, have an opportunity to convince the court to compel the Veterans Administration of Greater Los Angeles to do what it should have been doing all along – provide them with the housing and services they need to escape homelessness and use the West L.A. VA campus to house and serve veterans.”

Judge Otero’s March 16 ruling denied the motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims that various land use deals for non-veteran-related uses were unlawful violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.

He also denied the motion to dismiss as to two claims for violation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, although he required plaintiffs to amend their complaint as to one of those claims.

Under these claims, plaintiffs charge that the VA discriminates against veterans with severe disabilities and that such veterans do not have meaningful access to VA treatment unless that treatment is accompanied by permanent stable housing.

The ruling did dismiss three claims that alleged the VA breached a trust established by the 1888 deed under which the property was donated by Santa Monica founders John P. Jones and Arcadia B. de Baker to be “permanently maintained” as a home for veterans.

Judge Otero ruled that the deed did create a trust under which the VA is a trustee and veterans are beneficiaries, and that 1866 Congressional action authorized the government to accept the property subject to the trust, but that the government’s trustee obligations are not enforceable in the absence of an explicit statute. “While this result may seem shocking, this is the result the law dictates,” said the court.

In this last connection, Judge Otero said, “If the allegations of the [plaintiffs’ complaint] are true, the Government has essentially ignored the unenforceable promise it made with respect to much of the donated land that is now part of the (West L.A.) Campus.”

Plaintiffs’ statutory claims will now proceed toward trial under the ruling, which followed extensive briefing by the parties and by amicus curiae Metabolic Studio and the City of Santa Monica, both of which appeared on behalf of plaintiffs.

In a separate development, the plaintiffs have asked the court to set the case for trial in June, stating that it was “clear that mediation is not a viable avenue for chronically homeless veterans to obtain the relief they seek from (the VA) in this case.”

The VA GLAHS did not respond to a request for comment on the decision.

Mirror contributor Terence Lyons is also the veterans news correspondent for the Strawberry Bulletin, a publication of the Metabolic Studio where he writes and edits news and features that focus on veterans’ affairs, including housing issues and VA land use. He is a U.S. Army veteran.

in News
Related Posts

Santa Monica College Freshman Suing School Over Vaccine Mandate

January 28, 2022

January 28, 2022

January 11 lawsuit alleges violation of religious freedom and right to privacy By Sam Catanzaro A Santa Monica College freshman...

City Appoints Burbank Deputy Chief to Helm Santa Monica Fire Department

January 27, 2022

January 27, 2022

Danny Alvarez to assume post February 28 By Sam Catanzaro City Manager David White has appointed Burbank’s Deputy Fire Chief...

Local Stakeholders React to Bonin’s Decision Not to Seek Reelection

January 27, 2022

January 27, 2022

Allies and opponents of City Councilmember Mike Bonin weigh in  By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin’s decision...

LA Citycouncilmember Mike Bonin Will Not Seek Reelection

January 26, 2022

January 26, 2022

Councilmember cites chronic depression in Wednesday announcement By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin has announced that he...

Current Progress of Permanent Veteran Housing on The West LA VA Campus

January 26, 2022

January 26, 2022

VA representatives give a tour of the current progress and future plans for permanent veteran housing on the West LA...

Pandemic Propels Lifelong Educators to Open New Preschool in the Palisades!

January 25, 2022

January 25, 2022

By Susan Payne Look out, Palisades: Two educators with more than 50 years combined experience are opening a new preschool...

Santa Monica Named LEED Platinum City

January 25, 2022

January 25, 2022

First city to achieve Platinum level certification in LEED for Cities Version 4.1.  By Sam Catanzaro The U.S. Green Building...

Arnold Schwarzenegger Involved in Brentwood Crash

January 24, 2022

January 24, 2022

No injuries reported in Friday incident By Sam Catanzaro Arnold Schwarzenegger was involved in a multi-vehicle crash in Brentwood Friday. ...

Report Finds That Santa Monica Spends Nearly $5 Million on Homeless Outreach

January 24, 2022

January 24, 2022

By Dolores Quintana A new report shows that the City of Santa Monica spends nearly $5 million on homeless outreach...

Homeless Man Violently Attacks Two Residents With Ties To City Council: Santa Monica Beat – January 24th, 2022

January 24, 2022

January 24, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.*  Homeless Man Violently Attacks Two Residents With Ties To City Council*  Families...

City Breaks Ground on Water Self-Sufficiency Project

January 24, 2022

January 24, 2022

City Representative Sunny Wang explains what the new improvements to the Arcadia Water Treatment Plant will mean for local residents..Video...

Euro Investment Firm Buys Santa Monica Whole Foods Property for Over $50 Million

January 24, 2022

January 24, 2022

Whole Foods Santa Monica property sold to Deka Group By Dolores Quintana One of Europe’s largest investment firms has purchased...

Preliminary Injunction Granted to Halt Demolition Of Parking Structure 3

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

January 24 hearing set following LA Superior Court Judge ruling By Dolores Quintana The Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association’s (SMBOA)...

Westside Home Prices Rising?

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

Redfin report shows 11.1 percent increase in median home prices By Dolores Quintana Are Westside home prices rising?  On the...