Judge Rejects Key Aspects of Celebrity Spray Tanner’s Suit Against Larry Block

In a decision to grant Larry Block reimbursement for attorney’s fees an L.A. Superior Court judge has cast doubt on key elements of a lawsuit in which Block was accused of illegally evicting a tenant.

Judge John Segal yesterday issued a tentative decision granting Block reimbursement of $10,626 in fees he has spent to defend himself in a lawsuit by James W. Snyder, who bills himself as Jimmy Jimmy Coco, a celebrity spray tanner. Segal is expected to decide whether to make his decision final within a week.

Celebrity spray tanner James W. Snyder, aka Jimmy Jimmy Coco (Facebook)
Celebrity spray tanner James W. Snyder, aka Jimmy Jimmy Coco (Facebook)

Segal ruled in favor of a motion filed by Block’s lawyer that alleged Snyder’s suit was a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” That is a legal term for a lawsuit that ” lacks any basis of genuine substance, legal underpinnings, evidence, or prospect of success.” Lawsuits challenged on those grounds typically are those in which a plaintiff alleges a violation of law or misconduct in an effort to intimidate a defendant with the prospect of having to pay high legal costs to defend himself.

In Segal’s ruling he rejected Snyder’s allegation that Block had illegally evicted him, that he had asked Snyder to move out as retaliation or that Block had violated the law by threatening to evict Snyder.

In his lawsuit, Snyder alleged that Block had illegally converted the garage behind his house into a bedroom, leased it to Snyder, and then evicted him in a dispute over several issues, including Snyder’s theft of Block’s parking pass. Block has said he only intended to rent the space to Snyder to store his belongings while he travelled to apply spray tans to celebrities such as Ariana Grande, the singer and actor.

Block, who is one of four candidate’s in Tuesday’s special election for a West Hollywood City Council seat, has alleged the lawsuit is politically motivated. Neal Zaslavsky, the lawyer representing Snyder, sent copies of the suit to opponents of Block such as West Hollywood City Council members John D’Amico and John Duran before the suit actually was served on Block.

The lawsuit mentions Block’s City Council candidacy numerous times. In one instance Zaslavsky writes: “Troublingly, while this type of behavior from any landlord would be repugnant to law, public policy, and common decency, it is particularly shocking in light of Block’s current aspirations. Indeed, at all times relevant herein, Block has been an announced candidate for the West Hollywood City Council, and has included tenants’ rights issues as part of his platform. When viewed in this light, Block’s conduct is simply shameful.”

And in another instance, alluding to Block’s attempt to evict Snyder for the alleged theft of a parking pass, Zaslavsky writes: “Perhaps Larry Block invented his tall tale about ‘theft’ in the hopes of discrediting Mr. Snyder so that if the truth about all of Larry Block’s conduct ever came to light – behavior which was so vile and shocking that it not only ran afoul of well-established law in California, but if discovered, would most certainly have a negative impact on Larry Block’s chances of being elected to the City Council (the italics provided by Zaslavsky) – Larry Block would have a campaign-ready excuse to whitewash and spin his own malfeasance. Unfortunately for Larry Block, when you try to use the strong arm of the law to silence your potential adversaries, the truth usually manages to come out anyway. Cover-ups are rarely successful in the long term.”

“There is no merit whatsoever in Jimmy’s claims against me, and in fact, Jimmy owes me money,” Block said in response to the judge’s decision. His lawyer said Block expects to file a formal response to Snyder’s remaining claims by June 4 and is considering filing a cross-complaint against Snyder for damages and monies owed.

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Tasha Marie Montelongo

Even though the Judge dismissed Mr. Blocks’ claims of this being politically motivated, does not mean that it was not! I agree with @ Kayaytche’s post above, and that is why would Attorney Mr. Zaslavsky, for Mr. Snyder, knowing that Mr. Block was running for City Council, send out copies of the lawsuit to the members on the City Council, prior to serving it to Mr. Block? Really thinking about this, the least it was, it was an attempt at character assassination towards Mr. Block. One last point to make, is why in the world would Mr. Block misrepresent, and… Read more »

kayaytche
kayaytche
5 years ago

Conrad, I don’t think Block has a problem with people not believing “his side of the story” as you say – particularly the Judge who awarded him $10K in fees and dismissed the eviction claims as meritless. It’s been clear from the beginning that the complaint was a politically motivated hit piece – evidenced by the lawyer, a Duran appointee, sending the complaint to Duran and D’Amico, who at the time was an opponent in the campaign, neither of whom were parties to the case or had any association with it, before Block was even served.

Larry Block
Larry Block
5 years ago

@conrad – i did not buy my house from Monte Overstreet, I puchased it from a nice young couple who had a baby. Single family homes are exempt from the rent code – section 17:32 or thereabouts. The guy was not a stranger renting space – it was a person I knew who called me asking for a favor… Because his lease was up and he was in a bind he had to go oversees so he wanted to park his stuff – no lease, never gave him a key, and my personal belongings remained Inside of the space at… Read more »

Conrad
Conrad
5 years ago

Correction: **Monte Overstreet

Conrad
Conrad
5 years ago

Mr. Block, I am very familiar with the zoning in your neighborhood. I’m also very familiar with the local rent stabilization ordinances and unit registration requirements. Simply put if your “garage” was being used for anything remotely close to a rental unit, you should have either registered the unit or filed for an exemption. You have ran for office several times. You know this. I know when you bought your home, and that person purchased it from Monte Street. According to the floor plan, your “garage” is more appropriately described as a “PATIO HOUSE” with all the amenities one would… Read more »

Larry Block
Larry Block
5 years ago

@conrad, don’t know what your talking about.. i bought the house with a garage, and I tiled the floor and made it an office. Do a quick search over the last ten years and see if you have ever seen a listing for an apt for rent at my address. Never. I have never put a for lease sign or had my place for rent ever. I used my garage as a den and sometimes when a friend got in trouble, broke up w their boyfriend, or my had an out of town guest they would sleep in that garage… Read more »

Conrad
Conrad
5 years ago

Maybe Block should ask the real estate agent to take down the 2005 real estate listing. A quick search yields pictures and a beautiful floor plan which shows that the garage has been converted. Then people might believe his side of the story.

Brad
Brad
5 years ago

What is this guy saying above? The judgement in $10625 in Blocks favor – thats all I need to know, the rest is more spin.

Neal S. Zaslavsky, Esq.

Thanks for the clarification, Hank. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to express a differing opinion. Fair reporting requires hearing from both sides, and your willingness to print a contrary position speaks highly to the integrity of your publication. I do want to note, for clarity purposes, that while the quotes in the article were indeed in the original lawsuit, even with those quotes in the first Complaint, the Court importantly STILL found that the lawsuit was not politically motivated. Also for clarity purposes, there have been two separate tentative rulings in this case. The court issued a tentative… Read more »

Steve Lamson
Steve Lamson
5 years ago

It’s troubling Larry would put himself in the position to be taken advantage of like this.

Neal S. Zaslavsky, Esq.

I wasn’t contacted before this story was written, and it is simply factually incorrect. The quotes attributed to the lawsuit are also inaccurate. An amended lawsuit was filed at the beginning of May, and most of the quotes in this story are not in the amended lawsuit. In ruling on Block’s anti-SLAPP motion (strategic litigation against public participation) last month, the Court rejected Block’s claims on 19 of the 22 causes of action. The Court found that the only protected activity implicated was the filing of an unlawful detainer. The Court SUMMARILY REJECTED Block’s claim that the lawsuit was politically… Read more »

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin
5 years ago

Neal: The quotes cited in the story were included in the original filing, which led people to assume the suit was politically motivated, which the story says. The fact that you took those statements out later is immaterial. Also, the Court did reject Block’s claims on some of the causes of action. But it also did issue a tentative ruling that there was no evidence to support two alleged causes of action — wrongful eviction and retaliatory eviction, which most would consider “key” elements of the lawsuit. As you note, the judge has 90 days to decide whether to affirm… Read more »

Gary
Gary
5 years ago

I am Larry’s next door neighbor and he has a single family home. This guy took advantage of Larry when he needed a place to put his stuff. Larry is not a landlord and does not have a rental unit. I’ve been to his house many times.