09 May San Gabriel Valley Water & Power Succeeds in Forcing City of Industry to Withdraw Illegal Subpoena
May 8, 2019 – Los Angeles, California – On April 11, the City of Industry’s City Council (the City) finally relented and passed a resolution to rescind an illegal subpoena that it had earlier served upon San Gabriel Valley Water & Power (SGVWP). The City also promised that it “will not issue any further legislative subpoena” to SGVWP regarding the same civil dispute. In light of the law, the City’s decision was inevitable. While the City’s subpoena power is expressly reserved for legislative purposes, the City had served a subpoena on SGVWP in an ill-fated attempt to get the upper hand in a long running contractual dispute.
The City’s dispute with SGVWP involves the City signing a lease agreement with SGVWP for development of a major solar power project at Tres Hermanos Ranch. The City used that lease and other promises to bait SGVWP into spending millions of dollars on the development. Finally, the City misused the Brown Act by secretly entering into an agreement with other parties regarding the same land.
The City’s subpoena was a blatant abuse of power. SGVWP had little choice but to file an action in Los Angeles County Superior Court. SGVWP successfully demonstrated that it would likely prevail at trial on allegations that the City had abused its power, so the Court quickly issued a temporary restraining order and then a preliminary injunction against the City.
“SGVWP incurred over $120,000 in legal bills to fight this illegal subpoena; we may ask the Court to issue an order that Industry pay for these fees,” said Anthony Barkett, Managing SGVWP Partner. “Industry’s City Council needs to be held accountable for abusing their legislative powers. No city should be able to misuse its powers against anyone, including those who do business with the City. The City’s belated decision to revoke its illegal subpoena does not fix the damage it has done.”
On April 29, 2019, SGVWP filed its cross-complaint against the City of Industry for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, seeking both damages and specific performance of the lease agreement.
San Gabriel Valley Water & Power is an energy solutions organization specializing in global renewable energy infrastructure projects.
Contact: Darcy M. Burke, M.B.A