City Attorney Dennis Herrera's lawsuit against the private commission seeking to terminate City College of San Francisco's accreditation received a major boost on Sept. 19 when a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges is subject to provisions of state law prohibiting unlawful and unfair acts by businesses and private associations. Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow's 40-page decision also granted one of Herrera's key motions when he found that the accreditors "violated controlling federal regulations" by failing to include more than a single academic representative on a 2013 evaluation panel. After rejecting all of the ACCJC's pre-trial defenses, Karnow acknowledged that several of the issues for which he was unable to grant summary adjudication may be decided at trial, which is slated to begin on Oct. 27.
The ruling comes in response to competing motions for summary adjudication, in which Herrera and the Novato, Calif.-based accrediting commission each sought pre-trial rulings on key issues likely to figure prominently in the trial. At a Sept. 10 hearing on the dueling motions, ACCJC's attorneys argued that the private accreditors' actions were effectively excluded from the prohibitions of California's Unfair Competition Law because educational accreditation is not a commercial endeavor. Judge Karnow rejected that argument, siding with Herrera's contention that the legislature expressly included "associations and other organizations of persons" within the law's scope, and that courts have broadly construed Business and Professions Code Section 17200 to apply to a wide array of private entities, including non-profits that charge for their services.
Said Herrera: "I'm grateful for a decision that should help disabuse accreditors of the arrogant notion that their violations are somehow beyond the reach of California law. Lack of accountability has been consistent theme in this accrediting commission's conduct, whether it has involved City College, or the legislature, or the law itself. Judge Karnow has issued a wise and extremely thorough ruling on the applicability of state law to unfair and unlawful practices, and I respect his decision to withhold judgment on several other issues until trial next month."
City Attorney Herrera won a key legal victory in January when a San Francisco Superior Court granted his motion for preliminary injunction against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, or ACCJC. Under terms of the ruling, the ACCJC is barred from finalizing its planned termination of City College of San Francisco's accreditation as it had planned to do on July 31. Still, Herrera's litigation -- which alleges that the private accrediting body has allowed political bias, improper procedures, and conflicts of interest to unlawfully influence its evaluation of the state's largest community college -- continues.
After a thirteen year battle that broke new legal ground and consumed years of work by public and private attorneys, the City and County of San Francisco along with Santa Clara County, Los Angeles County and seven other California cities and counties won a $1.1 billion judgment from the Honorable Judge James P. Kleinberg of Santa Clara Superior Court, who ruled that three manufacturers of lead-based paints are jointly liable for the cost of removing their products from homes around the state.
City Attorney Herrera has filed a class action against the State of Nevada for its controversial "patient dumping" practices -- busing hundreds of indigent people who suffer from mental health afflictions to out-of-state locations, including San Francisco, "with inadequate provisions of food and medication, and without prior arrangements for their care, housing or medical treatment upon arrival." The lawsuit is on behalf of all California localities affected by the practice.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is engaged in litigation against Monster Beverage Corporation for violating California law with its marketing of highly-caffeinated energy drinks to children as young as six-years-old, despite scientific findings that such products may cause "significant morbidity in adolescents" from elevated blood pressure, brain seizures, and severe cardiac events.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed suit against three gun accessories companies and a gun show promoter for selling disassembled high-capacity magazines in California in violation of a state law that prohibits the sale, manufacture, or import of gun ammunition feeding devices that accept more than 10 rounds. The equipment is marketed as gun magazine "repair kits" in a barely-disguised attempt to skirt a 14-year-old California gun safety law, according to Herrera's complaint.