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Deborah J. Fox

Deborah J. FoxPrincipalDownload PDFvCard213.626.2906

Overview

Deborah Fox is the Chair of Meyers Nave’s statewide Trial and Litigation Practice Group and First Amendment Practice Group. Deborah’s practice includes trial and appellate work in state and federal courts, as well as extensive experience with administrative hearings and other proceedings before regulatory agencies. Her cases frequently involve issues that attract intense media attention and public scrutiny, including matters of first impression. Outside the courtroom, she provides day-to-day guidance to clients as they address a myriad of legal issues.

Deborah has handled a wide range of litigated matters, including those that involve First Amendment issues, land use, zoning, housing, general plans, coastal issues, CEQA, inverse condemnation, environmental claims, federal preemption, public records, elections and ballot initiatives, and civil rights claims for violations of substantive and procedural due process and equal protection. Her complex litigation experience includes multi-party and multi-district cases, civil litigations that are intertwined with pending criminal actions, and matters that require managing, researching, reviewing and interpreting extensive electronic information.

Deborah is one of California’s foremost experts on First Amendment issues, particularly those affecting the public sector. Her cases have involved commercial solicitation and panhandling ordinances, news rack restrictions, billboard and sign ordinances, public forum issues, parade and park regulations, adult use regulations, and regulation in compliance with the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Deborah authored an amicus brief on behalf of the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the American Planning Association in the Lamar Central Outdoor, LLC v. City of Los Angeles First Amendment related billboard case. Lamar involved the constitutionality of Los Angeles’s billboard regulations under the California Constitution. In a landmark opinion, the Second Appellate District upheld the ability of California cities and counties to continue using the onsite/offsite and commercial/noncommercial distinctions as a regulatory tool in their sign codes.

Deborah’s complex litigation experience includes recently defending the City of Palmdale in actions brought by more than 30 plaintiffs involving inverse condemnation, nuisance, negligence, and trespass claims as a result of a massive 2015 rain storm that caused substantial flash flooding and debris flow. The storm was rated to have a “return frequency” of 1000 years and overwhelmed the City’s public improvements. Successful resolutions included (1) negotiating the dismissal of Palmdale from one action within a few months of the filing of the action, (2) winning a dispositive motion for summary judgment in another case for judgment based on establishing that the epic storm was an intervening factor that broke the causal chain for liability and (3) obtaining a definitive legal ruling on a summary judgment motion that served as the catalyst to get the remaining cases settled and involved payment by the pooling entity with a minimal contribution from the City.   

Her recent courtroom victories include California New Business Bureau, Inc. v. County of San Bernardino (Case No. CIVDS 1616334, Nov. 8, 2016). After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Meyers Nave drafted a constitutionally sound solicitation ordinance for the County. When that ordinance was challenged by CNBB, Meyers Nave obtained a complete victory in court for the County. CNBB brought suit after it received four administrative citations for violating the ordinance by soliciting business on the grounds around the County’s Hall of Justice. Meyers Nave successfully argued that the area around the Hall of Justice was not a public forum, and the Superior Court denied CNBB’s request for an injunction.

Deborah is frequently called upon to assist clients in emergency situations, such as those involving urgent public health issues. For example, she assisted the County of Los Angeles regarding the largest methane gas release in U.S. history. Deborah’s team parachuted in, assessed the legal landscape, and successfully obtained a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction allowing the 3,000 relocated families to remain in safe alternative housing.

Deborah speaks and writes about topical issues facing municipalities along with addressing the complex balance between various regulatory constraints and constitutional protections. Her speaking includes numerous presentations at conferences provided by the International Municipal Lawyers Association, League of California Cities, and County Counsels’ Association of California. Deborah is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of California, United States Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and all U.S. District Courts in California.

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