Major Litigation

Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has handled many significant cases over the years including a number of class actions which resulted in substantial relief for our clients. The program has also handled a number of appeals to the Nevada Supreme Court and to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some were decided when Legal Aid Center was named Clark County Legal Services or was the Southern Nevada office of Nevada Legal Services.

Garcia v. Autovest, LLC, Case No. 2:16-cv-00601-JAD-CWH (D.Nev. 2016). Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - Class Action Settlement – client was sued in Justice Court for a deficiency balance after he defaulted in purchasing a car on credit, and after the car was repossessed and sold.  He was sued more than 4 years but less than 6 years after he defaulted.  We believed the statute of limitations was 4 years.  While we were defending the collection lawsuit, and with the assistance of Pro Bono counsel, we filed a Class Action in federal court against Autovest for filing lawsuits on time-barred debts, a violation of the FDCPA.  We initially lost the collection case in Justice Court, but timely appealed to District Court.  We were able to settle both cases.  In the federal Class Action, members of the Non-Judgement Subclass (73 members) had their pending collection cases dismissed (or waived if not yet filed) and enjoyed $738,096 in debt forgiven.  Members of the Judgement Subclass (25 members) received a $100 credit against their judgment.  Attorney’s fees and costs of up to $25,000 were not opposed by agreement in the Class Action, and Autovest agreed to pay LACSN $12,550 in attorney’s fees and costs in the state court action.  The Class representatives each had their alleged debt forgiven and each received a $1,000 incentive payment for their time and effort in representing the Class. 

Pelaez v. MCT Group, Inc., 2011 WL 500215 (Feb. 10, 2011) Court found personal jurisdiction in U.S. District Court, District of Nevada over California-based Defendant-debt collector where Defendant-debt collector sent unlawful collection notices from California to Plaintiff-debtor in Nevada. Case furthers doctrine that jurisdiction in Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases may be maintained where injured debtor resides, thereby increasing access to justice to residents of Nevada who are injured by out-of-state parties.

H.M.S. v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct. ex rel. County of Clark, No. 52558, slip op. (Nev. Nov. 21, 2008). In November 2008, LACSN obtained a a writ of mandamus from the Nevada Supreme Court requiring the District court to vacate an order issued without notice to our 16 year old client. The District Court's order halted the 16 year old's release to her adult sibling causing the child to remain in Boys and Girls Town.

In re Ferrell, 539 F.3d 1186 (9th Cir. 2008). In August 2008, CCLS filed an amici curia (friend of the court) brief with the court in support of a Trustee in Bankruptcy’s damage claim under the federal Truth in Landing Act (TILA) against a payday loan company. TILA requires lenders to make certain disclosures on their forms. Unfortunately, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court that damages our were unavailable for the specific violations of TILA proved in this case.

In Re Christensen, 149 P.3d 40 (Nev. 2006). CCLS won a Nevada Supreme Court decision protecting 75% of wages deposited into a bank account from creditors. The Court held that the wages remained safe indefinitely even after being mixed up with other funds in the account.

In re Guardianship of Person, Estate of N.S., 130 P.3d 657 (Nev. 2006). CCLS obtained an opinion from the Nevada Supreme Court that a grandmother should be given preference as to where her granddaughter should be placed by the state. Grandmother had sought guardianship so that the child could live with her mother's five children. Lower court had approved placement in a foster home.

Miller v. Wilfong, 119 P.3d 727 (Nev. 2005). CCLS filed a "friend of the court" brief with the Nevada Supreme Court urging the court to find that an award of attorney's fees to a pro bono attorney is proper. The Court agreed and upheld the award.

State Div. of Child and Family Serv. v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct. ex rel. County of Clark, 81 P.3d 512 (Nev. 2003). On behalf of a child, CCLS convinced the family court to order the release of addresses and names of the parents of her 3 younger siblings in order to serve the parents with papers requesting visitation with his siblings. The Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) unsuccessfully challenged the order in the Nevada Supreme Court and the names were released.

In re Parental Rights as to K.D.L., 58 P.3d 181 (Nev. 2002). On behalf of a child CCLS successfully convinced the Nevada Supreme Court to uphold the termination of the father’s parental rights. While mere incarceration of a parent may not constitute clear and convincing evidence that the parent is unfit, this father’s history of violent behavior and threat to the safety of the children was sufficient to demonstrate that termination was in the child's best interest.

Eason v. Clark County Sch. Dist., 303 F.3d 1137 (9th Cir. 2002). A student brought suit against a school district for severe abuse and excessive corporal punishment which violated the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. The lower court dismissed of case based on 11th Amendment which exempts states from suits in federal court. CCLS obtained a reversal from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which held that a school district does not an "arm of the state" which qualifies for 11th Amendment immunity.

Witte v. Clark County Sch. Dist., 197 F.3d 1271 (9th Cir. 1999). A student brought suit against a school district for severe abuse and excessive corporal punishment which violated the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. The district court dismissed the suit because it found that the student did not first exhaust all administrative processes under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) prior to suing. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed noting that in this case the students claim was for money damages for past injuries which are not available under IDEA.

Lippis v. Peters, 112 Nev. 1008, 921 P.2d 1248 (1996). Tenants challenged the constitutionality of JCRP 106 which did not allow the appeal of a summary eviction order from justice court to district court.. The Nevada Supreme Court agreed that under the Nevada Constitution there is a right to appeal summary evictions.

Kolnik v. Nevada Empl. Sec. Dep't, 112 Nev. 11 (1996). Cabdriver appealed the denial of unemployment compensation benefits based on his discharge following two driving accidents. The Nevada Supreme Court agreed that the accidents were not caused by negligence of such a degree that denial of benefits for misconduct was justified.

Meyer v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 110 Nev. 1357, 885 P.2d 622 (1994). Tenant successfully brought a writ of mandamus to the Nevada Supreme Court which instructed the lower court to certify a class action on behalf of tenants illegally locked out of their apartments by a large landlord. Instead of lawfully evicting the tenants through the courts, the landlord had a practice of placing a pin in the lock, making the keys to the apartments unworkable and forcing tenants to contact the landlord in order to get back into their units.

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