This afternoon, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Helmer Friedman LLP’s clients Crystal Monique Lightfoot and Beverly Hollis-Arrington (Case No. 10-56068).
Following the victory of Helmer Friedman LLP in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2017 on behalf of Ms. Lightfoot and Ms. Hollis-Arrington, Fannie Mae filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit to, in effect, disregard the Supreme Court’s decision, and, instead, to affirm the District Court’s dismissal of their case. After extensive briefing, the Ninth Circuit denied Fannie Mae’s Motion. Instead, the Ninth Circuit granted the relief that Helmer Friedman LLP had requested and remanded the case to the District Court with instructions to vacate its prior judgment in favor of Fannie Mae and then remand the case back to California State Court.
“As with the Supreme Court’s decision, this decision from the Ninth Circuit is also complete vindication for our clients who have argued for years that their lawsuit against Fannie Mae should be heard in the California state courts and not in federal court,” commented Andrew H. Friedman of Beverly Hills-based Helmer Friedman LLP.
This morning, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Sotomayor, the U. S. Supreme Court sided with Helmer Friedman LLP’s clients Crystal Monique Lightfoot and Beverly Hollis-Arrington and held that Fannie Mae’s sue-and-be-sued clause does not grant district courts jurisdiction over cases involving Fannie Mae. The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit which had ruled against Ms. Lightfoot and Ms. Hollis-Arrington.
“This decision is complete vindication for our clients who have argued for years that their lawsuit against Fannie Mae should be heard in the California state courts and not in federal court,” commented Gregory D. Helmer and Andrew H. Friedman of Beverly Hills-based Helmer Friedman LLP.
Here is the opinion: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/14-1055_6j36.pdf
December 6, 2016 – Join Andrew H. Friedman, founding partner of Helmer Friedman LLP, Anthony J. Oncidi, head of the Los Angeles labor and employment law group at Proskauer Rose LLP, and David B. Weisenfeld, the legal editor for the preemployment background check, job advertising, and interviewing and selection content in the recruiting and hiring section of XpertHR USA, for this fast-paced webinar, where we explore all of the key issues on your mind, including:
Will the ACA really be repealed, or is a rebooting more likely?
What can employers expect from the EEOC and DOL?
Is overtime pay reform going to be off the table at the federal level?
Paid parental leave was a campaign talking point, but how realistic is it?
And how will the election affect the Supreme Court?
Washington, D.C. – Helmer Friedman LLP Takes Case To Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Gregory D. Helmer and Andrew H. Friedman outside the U.S. Supreme Court with their client, Beverly Hollis-Arrington — one of the most courageous people we know. Fannie Mae foreclosed on her home in 2002 but she stood up and took them all the way to the Supreme Court (with a little help from Helmer Friedman LLP).
Andrew H. Friedman will be speaking at the November 3, 2016 Annual Conference of the Employment Round Table of Southern California. Mr. Friedman – along with his co-panelist, Anthony J. Oncidi (of Proskauer Rose) – will be giving a legal update about the latest employment laws, regulations and cases. Other speakers will include Kevin Kish, Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and Anna Parks, Regional Attorney, EEOC, Los Angeles, District Office. If you are interested in the latest developments in California employment law, you should attend. More information can be located here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ertsc-2016-annual-conference-and-awards-luncheon-tickets-28198033076
Lawsuit Alleges Trader Joe’s Fired Beloved Store Manager Because She Is Gay
A former Store Manager (or, Store “Captain” in Trader Joe’s parlance) has filed a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit against the Company. In her lawsuit, Sandy Holm, a long term 15-year employee, alleges that her former supervisor, Regional Vice-President Caroline Judd, fired her because she is gay. The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court and assigned case number BC 634605.
“I’m absolutely heart-broken,” responded Ms. Holm when asked to describe how she felt. “Trader Joe’s was my life. I loved that company and I did anything and everything that was ever asked of me.”
Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that Regional Vice-President Judd asked Ms. Holm inappropriate personal questions about Ms. Holm’s sexual orientation including whether Ms. Holm had a “partner,” asking the age of Ms. Holm’s partner, how long Ms. Holm and her partner had been together, and whether they were planning on having children. According to the lawsuit, these questions and the tone and manner in which they were asked caused Ms. Holm to believe that Ms. Judd had a problem with gay people, in general, and with Ms. Holm for being gay, in particular. Ms. Holm claims that shortly after asking these questions, Ms. Judd fired her because she is gay and because she made charitable donations to several LGBT organizations including Jewish Queers, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Pacific Area Boosters Association.
According to Ms. Holm’s lawsuit, Trader Joe’s gives Store Captains wide discretion to make charitable contributions to community groups. According to the lawsuit, Ms. Judd accused Ms. Holm of favoring LGBT charitable organizations because she is gay and that Ms. Judd then derisively commented to Ms. Holm, “I like kitty cats but that doesn’t mean that I can make donations to kitty cat organizations.” Then, according to the lawsuit, without any prior warnings, Ms. Judd fired Ms. Holm. Ms. Judd, the lawsuit alleges, attempted to justify Ms. Holm’s firing by falsely claiming that Trader Joe’s had a written policy forbidding Store Captains from making charitable donations in excess of $250.00 without permission from their supervisors.
Ironically, one of the organizations that Ms. Judd allegedly believed to be a gay organization was actually a law enforcement organization — Pacific Area Boosters Association.
Ms. Holm’s attorney, Courtney Abrams, of Helmer Friedman LLP, asked that witnesses and/or persons with knowledge regarding whether Trader Joe’s had and enforced charitable donation policies contact her, “If you have worked for Trader Joe’s and know whether or not the Company had any type of charitable donation policy requiring Store Captains to obtain permission from their supervisors before making donations in excess of $250.00, we’d like to speak with you.”
Commenting about the lawsuit, Andrew H. Friedman, a founding member of Helmer Friedman LLP, stated, “Sexual orientation discrimination is real. It happens every day. We are very fortunate that California outlaws sexual orientation discrimination in employment and housing. ”
In addition to employment law, Helmer Friedman LLP also provides legal representation and advice in a wide range of other areas, including consumer rights, sports, and entertainment. Andrew H. Friedman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Courtney Abrams (email@example.com) can be reached at 310-396-7714.
- Holm v. Trader Joe’s Complaint For Damages
- Holm v. Trader Joe’s Press Release
- Courtney Abrams interviewed on KFI Radio about Helmer Friedman’s lawsuit against Trader Joe’s for sexual orientation discrimination.
(Washington, DC) – Today the United States Supreme Court scheduled oral argument in a Helmer Friedman LLP case — Lightfoot v. Fannie Mae, Cendant Mortgage Corporation, et. al. (14-1055) — for November 8, 2016. At issue in the Lightfoot v. Fannie Mae case is whether individual homeowners who have been wrongly or fraudulently foreclosed upon by Fannie Mae have the right to sue the mortgage giant in the state courts. Commenting about the Supreme Court’s decision to schedule oral argument so quickly after the Supreme Court had granted Helmer Friedman’s petition for certiorari, Andrew H. Friedman, of Helmer Friedman LLP, exclaimed, “We are absolutely thrilled that the Supreme Court is moving so quickly on this important issue which affects thousands of homeowners as well as Fannie Mae employees who would prefer to vindicate their rights in their own state courts where the laws may be more favorable to them than in the federal courts.”
“The Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in this case is the culmination of several years of work,” said Gregory D. Helmer. “We knew it was a longshot, but decided the issue was important enough to battle the odds. For years, Fannie Mae has argued that individuals do not have the right to proceed against them in state court. But, in our view, the language of Fannie Mae’s corporate charter authorizes an individual to commence a legal action in a state court so long as that court has a legitimate basis for jurisdiction. We look forward to making that argument to the Supreme Court and hope the Court shares our perspective.”
U.S. Supreme Court Grants Petition For Certiorari Filed By Helmer Friedman LLP
Helmer Friedman LLP is very pleased to announce that this morning the Supreme Court granted our petition for certiorari in Crystal Monique Lightfoot, et al. v. Fannie Mae, Cendant Mortgage Corporation, dba PHH Mortgage, et al. Case No. 10-56068. According to the Supreme Court, approximately 7,000-8,000 petitions for a writ of certiorari are filed each Term and the Court grants and hears oral argument in merely 80 of those cases – about 1%. Given the slim chance that any petition for certiorari will be granted, founding Helmer Friedman LLP partners, Gregory D. Helmer and Andrew H. Friedman, exclaimed: “We were thrilled a month ago when the U.S. Solicitor General filed a brief with the Court recommending that our petition be granted. This morning, we are beyond ecstatic.”
At issue in the Lightfoot v. Fannie Mae case is whether individual homeowners who have been wrongly or fraudulently foreclosed upon by Fannie Mae have the right to sue the mortgage giant in the state courts.
The Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA”), commonly known as Fannie Mae, is a government-sponsored enterprise (“GSE”) and, since 1968, a publicly traded company. Its brother organization is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“FHLMC”), better known as Freddie Mac. With the advent of the 2008 housing crisis and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the verge of collapse, the U.S. government was forced to “bail out” the firms in September 2008. Accordingly, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship and fired the firms’ chief executive officers and boards of directors. On Oct 21, 2010 FHFA estimates revealed that the bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will likely cost taxpayers $224–360 billion in total, with over $150 billion already provided.
In the Lightfoot v. Fannie Mae case, two Californians (Crystal Lightfoot and Beverly Hollis-Arrington) involved in a mortgage dispute sued Fannie Mae in California State court. Fannie Mae then removed the case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Fannie Mae’s sole basis of removal was under a belief that its congressionally created charter conferred automatic federal jurisdiction. That statute says Fannie Mae has authority “to sue and be sued, and to complain and defend, in any court of competent jurisdiction, State or Federal.” 12 U.S.C. § 1723a(a) (emphasis added). After removal, Ms. Lightfoot and Ms. Hollis-Arrington immediately sought remand from the District Court to California State court arguing Fannie Mae’s charter did not confer automatic federal question jurisdiction. The District Court denied the application to remand. Eventually, Ms. Lightfoot and Ms. Hollis-Arrington appealed the district court’s denial of remand decision to the Ninth Circuit. Initially, the Ninth Circuit affirmed District Court’s denial of Appellants’ motion to remand on the basis that the District Court had removal jurisdiction over state claims filed to circumvent the res judicata impact of a federal judgment. Notably, however, Fannie Mae did not remove the case on that basis. Thereafter, the Ninth Circuit, sua sponte, withdrew its decision and ordered the parties to submit briefing on the issue of whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of Fannie Mae’s federal charter. Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit held that Fannie Mae’s federal charter conferred original jurisdiction in the federal courts. A brief chronology of the proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court follow:
- On February 17, 2015, Helmer Friedman LLP filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. A copy of the petition can be found here.
- On March 30, 2015, Fannie Mae elects to waive its right to file a response to Helmer Friedman LLP’s petition for writ of certiorari.
- On April 22, 2015, the Supreme Court orders Fannie Mae to file a response to Helmer Friedman LLP’s petition for writ of certiorari.
- On May 22, 2015, The American Association of Justice filed an amicus brief in support of Helmer Friedman LLP’s petition for writ of certiorari. A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.
- On June 22, 2015, Fannie Mae filed an opposition to Helmer Friedman LLP’s petition for writ of certiorari. A copy of Fannie Mae’s opposition can be found here.
- On July 8, 2015, Helmer Friedman LLP and co-counsel Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP file a reply in support of the petition for writ of certiorari. A copy of the reply can be found here.
- On October 5, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court invites the U.S. Solicitor General to file a brief in the case to express the views of the United States.
- On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Solicitor General files a brief urging the Supreme Court to grant the petition for writ of certiorari. A copy of the Solicitor’s General’s brief can be found here.
- On June 7, 2016, Fannie Mae files a supplemental brief addressing the U.S. Solicitor General’s brief urging the Supreme Court to grant the petition for writ of certiorari. A copy of Fannie Mae’s supplement brief can be found here.
- June 28, 2016, the Supreme Court grants the petition for certiorari.
- A copy of our press release regarding the Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortgage Corp. case can be found here – http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/helmer-friedman-llp-persuades-us-supreme-court-to-accept-case-against-fannie-mae-300292258.html
- August 16, 2016, Merits Brief of Petitioners Crystal Monique Lightfoot, et al. filed.
- August 23, 2016, Brief amicus curiae of United States filed.
- August 23, 2016, Brief amicus curiae of The American Red Cross in support of neither party filed.
- August 23, 2016, Brief amicus curiae of The American Association for Justice filed.
- September 2, 2016, SET FOR ARGUMENT On Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
- September 19, 2016, Merits brief of Fannie Mae filed
- October 19, 2016, [/imageframe]ightfoot.pdf” target=”_blank”>Reply Brief of Petitioners Crystal Monique Lightfoot, et al. filed.
- November 8, 2016, Supreme Court hears oral argument. Helmer Friedman LLP co-counsel, E. Joshua Rosenkranz, and Ann O’Connell, Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States Department of Justice are terrific in their argument to the Court. A copy of the transcript of the argument can be found here https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2016/14-1055_h3dj.pdf. Immediately following oral argument, Gregory D. Helmer and Andrew H. Friedman stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court with their client, Beverly Hollis-Arrington – one of the most courageous people we know. Fannie Mae foreclosed on her home in 2002 but she stood up and took them all the way to the Supreme Court (with a little help from Helmer Friedman LLP).
- November 9, 2016, Ronald Mann, a former member of the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, pens article for SCOTUSblog opining that the Justices’ questions during oral argument suggested that they were dubious of the position taken by Fannie Mae — Ronald Mann, Argument analysis: Justices dubious about federal jurisdiction for suits involving Fannie Mae, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 9, 2016, 9:33 AM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/11/argument-analysis-justices-dubious-about-federal-jurisdiction-for-suits-involving-fannie-mae/ .