Redondo Beach developer sets up “shams”and “shell” clients to pursue political lawsuit and further its own interests.
- Case Name: Arnette Travis and Chris Voisey v. Bill Brand, Nils Nehrenheim, et al.
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC665330
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, April 03, 2019
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, June 15, 2017
- Type of Case: Intentional Concealment
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Malcolm H. Mackey
Plaintiffs: Arnette TravisChris Voisey
Defendants: Bill Brand, elected Mayor of Redondo BeachBrand for Mayor 2017 (Brand's campaign committee)Linda Moffat (Brand’s campaign committee treasurer)Nils Nehrenheim (elected City Councilman of Redondo Beach)Wayne Craig, principal officer and treasurer of Rescue Our Waterfront P.A.C.Rescue Our Waterfront P.A.C., a political committee
- Type of Result: Bench Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days.
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendants filed their memorandum of costs and scheduled their motions for attorneys fees. Plaintiffs intend to oppose the defendants’ efforts to seek attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as to appeal the trial court’s judgment.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
The Sutton Law Firm by Bradley W. Hertz, Los Angeles, and Nicholas L. Sanders, San Francisco.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Gabriel & Associates by Stevan Colin, Long Beach. (For Bill Brand, Brand For Mayor 2017 and Linda Moffat.)
Carlson & Messer by Jeanne L. Zimmer, Los Angeles. (For Nils Nehrenheim.)
Bobak Nayebdadash, El Segundo. (For Wayne Craig and Rescue Our Waterfront P.A.C. (ROW PAC).)
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Ann Ravel, Political Reform Act expert and former Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the Federal Elections Commission, Los Gatos.
Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Amber Maltbie, campaign finance, Los Angeles.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Plaintiffs are residents and voters of Redondo Beach who initiated a “private attorney general” enforcement action in 2017 (verified Complaint) pursuant to Government Code section 91003 and and CCP section 526 against the defendants to compel them to comply with the provisions of the Political Reform Act of 1974, as amended. Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief to compel defendants to amend their political committee disclosure statements on file with the Secretary of State’s Office and Redondo Beach City Clerk, and sought an award of attorneys fees and costs.
Defendant, Wayne Craig formed a political committee called Rescue Our Waterfront (ROW PAC) in 2016. Bill Brand was a resident of Redondo Beach who ran for Redondo Beach Mayor and won in March, 2017. Defendant Linda Moffat was the treasurer of the Brand for Mayor 2017 campaign committee. Defendant Nils Nehrenheim was a resident of Redondo Beach who ran for City Council and was elected in a run-off election in May, 2017. Also appearing on the Redondo Beach March 2017 ballot was “Measure C,” an initiative to place development restrictions in the City’s harbor area.
Prior to the March 7, 2017 election, defendants Brand, Nehrenheim and ROW PAC publicly supported the passage of “Measure C.” Redondo Beach Waterfront LLC, a real estate developer, funded a political action committee known as “No on C, Save The Waterfront” whose attorney and assistant treasurer was Bradley W. Hertz, Esq., who later became attorney for plaintiffs Travis and Voisey.
On March 7, 2017, the voters passed “Measure C” and elected Bill Brand as Mayor. Nehrenheim placed first in his race against an incumbent, but did not win a majority of the votes. Nehrenheim later won in the May, 2017 run off election. On June 15, 2017, plaintiffs, represented by the Sutton Law Firm and partner Bradley W. Hertz, filed the plaintiffs’ verified Complaint For Injunctive Relief To Compel Compliance With California’s Political Reform Act.
Plaintiffs contended ROW PAC was a “primarily formed” committee for the purpose of passing “Measure C” and was controlled by Bill Brand and Nils Nehrenheim. Plaintiffs contended that ROW PAC was not a general purpose committee and was required to amend its campaign statements to reflect it was primarily formed to pass “Measure C” and to disclose that Brand and Nehrenheim controlled it.
Plaintiffs also contended that Brand and Nehrenheim failed to disclose in their campaign statements that each controlled ROW PAC and plaintiffs sought to compel Brand and Nehrenheim to file amended statements. Plaintiffs contended that all defendants deceived the public prior to the March 7, 2017 election, and that plaintiffs were entitled to injunctive relief and an award of attorneys fees and costs against all defendants.
Defendants ROW PAC and Wayne Craig contended that ROW PAC was formed as a general purpose committee to support harbor-related issues and various candidates for local office. They also contended that defendants Brand and Nehrenheim did not control ROW PAC and did not exert significant influence over ROW PAC, and therefore no amended campaign statements were required.
Defendants Brand and Nehrenheim contended that they did not control ROW PAC’s activities, and therefore no amended campaign statements were required.
Defendant Moffat contended she was not required to file any amended campaign statements because Brand did not control ROW PAC.
All defendants contended that plaintiffs Travis and Voisey lacked standing to bring a private enforcement action because they were not true plaintiffs as the lawsuit was being paid for and prosecuted for the developer whose $400 million dollar development project was affected by the passage of Measure C. Defendants contended the lawsuit was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) disguised as a private enforcement action; and that Travis and Voisey were plaintiffs in name only to avoid an Anti-SLAPP motion under CCP section 425.16. Defendants contended that plaintiffs were not entitled to injunctive relief and that defendants were entitled to attorneys fees and cost in defending the lawsuit.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: None.
- Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: None. This case was referred to two separate Superior Court Judges for settlement discussions.
- Defendant §998 Offer: None.
- Defendant Final Offer before Trial: Defendants offered no money and would not agree to file amended campaign statements. Defendants also served plaintiffs’ counsel with a demand (Zamos v. Stroud (2004) 32 Cal 4th 958)) they dismiss the lawsuit prior to commencement of trial, but plaintiffs refused.