The City and County of San Francisco, together with the cities of Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Philadelphia, and Portland, Ore., has filed a friend of the court brief in support of a federal lawsuit against Backpage.com, a prominent national website known for posting "escort" advertisements, for allegedly promoting sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
The underlying case currently pending in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts was brought by three teenagers who, according to a complaint filed by the law firm of Ropes & Gray, were victimized by sex trafficking schemes that Backpage.com enabled. Together with their parents, they seek damages against Backpage's owners and operators, arguing that the content service knowingly facilitated commercial sex transactions in violation of state and federal law. Backpage has moved to dismiss of the civil suit, contending that it is immune from liability under a federal law intended to protect neutral internet service providers.
Said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera: "I'm proud to join with other major cities that share San Francisco's strong interest in protecting children from sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the world's fastest-growing organized crime activity, and studies have shown that 63 percent of the estimated 300,000 children sold for sex in the United States are trafficked online. Evidence suggests that Backpage materially contributes to this shocking trend in human trafficking. Yet now, Backpage is trying to shield its reprehensible content practices behind a federal law meant to protect neutral internet service providers -- not content providers. Should Backpage succeed with its motion, the ruling could eviscerate local law enforcement's ability to protect children from sex trafficking, and risk creating what one court called 'a lawless no-man's-land on the Internet.' I'm very grateful to my counterparts in Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Philadelphia, and Portland for joining San Francisco to support the plaintiffs in this vitally important federal litigation."
City Attorney Dennis Herrera is appealing an Oct. 21 decision by a federal judge invalidating recent amendments to a city ordinance that sought to mitigate the daunting financial harms facing San Franciscans who are evicted under the state Ellis Act. "There should be no doubt that when a landlord evicts a rent-controlled tenant, the immense rent increase the tenant faces is the direct result of the landlord's decision to evict," Herrera said. "The district court's decision is contrary to cases interpreting the U.S. Constitution. San Francisco is facing a housing affordability crisis that's historically unprecedented, and our tenant relocation law serves a legitimate and lawful public purpose in helping tenants to adjust to the loss of rent control and mitigating the harms of displacement."
After a thirteen year battle that broke new legal ground and consumed years of work by public and private attorneys, the City and County of San Francisco along with Santa Clara County, Los Angeles County and seven other California cities and counties won a $1.1 billion judgment from the Honorable Judge James P. Kleinberg of Santa Clara Superior Court, who ruled that three manufacturers of lead-based paints are jointly liable for the cost of removing their products from homes around the state.
City Attorney Herrera has filed a class action against the State of Nevada for its controversial "patient dumping" practices -- busing hundreds of indigent people who suffer from mental health afflictions to out-of-state locations, including San Francisco, "with inadequate provisions of food and medication, and without prior arrangements for their care, housing or medical treatment upon arrival." The lawsuit is on behalf of all California localities affected by the practice.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is engaged in litigation against Monster Beverage Corporation for violating California law with its marketing of highly-caffeinated energy drinks to children as young as six-years-old, despite scientific findings that such products may cause "significant morbidity in adolescents" from elevated blood pressure, brain seizures, and severe cardiac events.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed suit against three gun accessories companies and a gun show promoter for selling disassembled high-capacity magazines in California in violation of a state law that prohibits the sale, manufacture, or import of gun ammunition feeding devices that accept more than 10 rounds. The equipment is marketed as gun magazine "repair kits" in a barely-disguised attempt to skirt a 14-year-old California gun safety law, according to Herrera's complaint.