Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cops Took My Car. Unconstitutional!

Thompson v. Petaluma Police Dept., No. A137981 (Nov. 4, 2014)

Plaintiff contends that a provision in the Vehicle Code addressing vehicle impoundments is unconstitutional and that the City of Petaluma is acting unconstitutionally by expending funds to enforce it. The City demurred, both on the merits of the claim and on standing. The court here holds that plaintiff has standing to sue as a taxpayer under Code of Civil Procedure § 526a, which permits a taxpayer to sue for illegal expenditures of government money or waste. Although plaintiff is not a resident of Petaluma, he owns a business and pays taxes there. That’s enough under established law. And although plaintiff’s unconstitutionality theory is a dead-ender, he appears to be able to claim that the way the city is enforcing the impoundment statute does not jibe with the statutory text and any pertinent judicial gloss. He thus should be permitted to amend on remand. 

Reversed and remanded.

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