Code Enforcement Settlement Nets $35,000 Fine, Ends Pattern of Public Health Code Violations

Property Owner, Shopkeepers of Jaime Market Agree to Injunctive Settlements, Will Observe State Health Codes, City Sidewalk Codes

The Code Enforcement and Resident Protection Unit of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office today announced a settlement in its civil suit against the owner and shopkeepers of a market at 1135 Stockton Street that had long flouted pedestrian safety laws and state health codes in selling potentially hazardous food items. Under terms of the stipulation signed today, Jaime Supermarket shopkeepers Shu Xiong Tan and Juan An Liang and property owner Pius Lee will pay fines totaling $35,000 and agree to adhere to numerous changes in store practices that posed potential threats to public health and safety.

The owner and shopkeepers agreed to obey laws prohibiting the display of potentially hazardous food outside of their store; the cooking and selling of food that it is neither equipped nor licensed to cook; the selling of homemade food or food from unauthorized vendors; blocking of sidewalks outside of the store; and maintaining an “unenclosed place” in violation of the California Uniform Retail Food Facilities Law. The defendants additionally agreed to a specific prohibition against intimidation of city employees, an injunction directed specifically at shopkeeper Shu Xiong Tan, who on several occasions made menacing threats against City Health Inspectors.

“This is a tough, enforceable settlement that brings closure to a lawsuit that should never have been so contentious,” said City Attorney Spokesman Matt Dorsey. “Public health codes exist to protect the public health, and it’s the City Attorney’s job to enforce those laws equitably and effectively.”

At one point in the case, defendants’ attorney Joseph M. Breall demanded the deposition of City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera and Deputy City Attorney Niall Vignoles, an unusually vexatious litigation tactic that was summarily quashed by San Francisco Superior Court Commissioner Everett A. Hewlett earlier this week.

“There’s an axiom among trial attorneys that when the law is on your side, you argue the law; when the facts are on your side, you argue the facts; and when neither is on your side, you argue,” Dorsey said. “Mr. Breall’s deposition ploy represented just that-an argument with no basis in law or fact. We’re glad he and his clients ultimately decided to do the right thing.”