At this time, the efforts to stop the STAR Program, via a class action lawsuit, will be redirected towards other potentially viable alternatives. Please read the following for an explanation as well as some details of our efforts of the past ten months.
First, we apologize for the relative lack of information given after the filing of the lawsuit. We hope you all understand that it was necessary for several reasons. There was no intention on keeping the community in the dark so-to-speak as it is just the nature of litigation especially when there is a potential to certify a class.
As to the current status, due to the recent determination of the case as “complex,” as well as several other developments, the route to an injunction via the class action, has become one that will be increasingly difficult. As a note, we disagree with the Court’s own motion to designate it “complex” but are not in a position to overturn that choice. Without getting too deep into the details, the designation was something we were trying to avoid as it places higher burdens upon the class plaintiff as well as creates a more difficult path to obtain the relief that we were seeking. In some situations “complex” is warranted, and desired, but here we felt it was neither. As a result, this morning, Hermanos Test Only (“Hermanos”) filed to dismiss their class action without prejudice. Procedurally, the dismissal means that, if needed, Hermanos reserves the ability to re-file and revive the lawsuit should it seem prudent to do so.
However, let this be absolutely clear, this does not end the fight to stop, or at the very least change, the components of the STAR Program that are inherently unfair and unconstitutional.
Going forward, with new knowledge of stratagems, knowledge of cited authority in opposition, more public and industry awareness of the detrimental affect of the implementation of the STAR Program, we believe that, if approached by individual license holders, we may be able to better advise, and possibly assist, them in their individual fight to stop the STAR Program. At this time this appears to be a better avenue to expend time, energy, and resources with a higher probability for the desired result. Simply put, if you wish to contest the STAR program on a personal level, this would be the likely arena of obtaining more direct and successful results.
As to more behind the scenes information of the last ten months…First, we would like to mention that many thanks need to be given to the Stop The Star Program (“STSP”) community creators. We have been working with them since February of 2011 to find ways to challenge this program in the legal arena. Second, we have also expended hundreds of internal hours to further those efforts with no expectation of reimbursement. Please take note that Hermanos, nor the potential “class,” was not seeking any monetary damages and only equitable relief, and, contrary to some people’s assertions, there was no big payday on the horizon for our firm. We have been dealing with the community for years now and they are our clients, and friends, and our efforts are solely to assist them in whatever way we can. Third, please also take note that the STSP efforts were greatly advanced by Hermanos. They were the sole facility that was both able to bring this action as well as be brave enough to publicly step up and attempt to fill the shoes of the class representative for the class action. Due directly to Hermanos’s assistance the class action was filed and the community owes them a thanks. That action, even though it is being dismissed today, has actually advanced the efforts to stop the STAR program. Essentially, through everything, we are finding out that this is a marathon and not a sprint, and the movement has inched forward.
One example of this progress is in the results from other suits where we have provided assistance with across the state. Since last February, we have been approached by other law firms to assist them with similar potential actions. All this time, we have provided assistance and advice to those firms to attempt different theories and angles. Our work in providing that help continues to this day.
Furthermore, due to our substantial efforts in several related cases we have seen an increase in significant protections for facilities. Instead of the “fox in charge of the henhouse,” legislation has been implemented which may eventually require, when timely requested, full administrative hearings in the attempt to revoke STAR certifications. This, if it plays out as it outlined in the statute, is much different from the previous situation where the Bureau held their own “Gold Shield Appeal” conferences, which, we believed and even argued, pro bono, up to the California Appellate Court, that that process violated those certificate holders’ constitutional rights. We believe that this work has helped to expose this issue and led to he current change and we also feel that the protections now afforded to facilities are a direct result from both the class action work and those prior cases.
As noted above, in the last ten months, we have expended hundreds of billed-hours for an immense internal cost to us on this current class action, and, regrettably, we feel at this time it is not the best method for obtaining the desired result. However, we can claim victory in several changes that have been brought about because of our efforts.
In conclusion, the current class action approach has become too burdensome to move forward especially with the chances of success in the current form growing ever more difficult. With the knowledge we gained from this process, and the advice and concerns from our clients and legal community, we pledge to fight on and attack on new grounds as we continue onward.