The Bane Act and Beyond – Matthew McNicholas Authors Advocate Article

Posted on April 12, 2017

California’s civil rights statutes represent an untapped resource for plaintiffs whose rights have been interfered with as a result of the intentional tortious conduct of public and private actors in a variety of contexts and circumstances. Partner Matthew McNicholas and Partner Holly Boyer with Esner, Chang & Boyer authored the Advocate article “The Bane Act and Beyond,” discussing how just a few of the California’s civil rights statutes, specifically Civil Code sections 52.1, 51.7 and 51.9, expand attorneys’ options when fighting to protect clients.

Civil Code Section 52.1 (The Bane Act), although usually associated with police misconduct cases, extends far beyond the interference of constitutional and statutory rights and includes rights secured by common law. The Act does not require actual interference with a plaintiff’s legal rights, rather even an attempted interference by threats, intimidation, or coercion is enough to give rise to a claim.

“In light of [the] significant remedies, and the broad scope of liability, it is surprising that more Bane Act violations are not pursued,” they wrote.

When pursuing a claim under Civil Code Section 51.7, the Ralph Act, which establishes a cause of action for discriminatory violence committed against any person or property, the claim need only satisfy the standard, “Would a reasonable person, standing in the shoes of the plaintiff, have been intimidated by the actions of the defendant and have perceived a threat of violence?”

Civil Code Section 51.9, which establishes a cause of action for sexual harassment in certain defined relationships where “[t]here is an inability by the plaintiff to easily terminate the relationship,” such as a landlord or teacher, is not limited to sexual harassment in the workplace and as such, the availability of such statutory claims may expand theories otherwise unavailable to such victims.

Read full article.