AHF drops meritless lawsuit against the city

‘Extremely litigious’ Los Angeles advocacy group had been fighting to undercut San Francisco’s chain store regulations

SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 5, 2016)—City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced that a controversial Los Angeles-based advocacy group had dropped its latest federal complaint against the city. The group had sued to try to put a formula retail pharmacy on Castro Street.

In its most recent complaint, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an organization that Newsweek magazine described as “extremely litigious,” had alleged in federal court that city officials violated the organization’s constitutional rights by not approving its conditional use request for a formula retail pharmacy. The complaint filed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, also known as AHF, was just the latest of five complaints filed in two separate lawsuits involving AHF’s proposed pharmacy at 518 Castro Street. AHF’s second lawsuit, filed after the applicable statute of limitations had expired, was dismissed on September 26, 2016.  In each lawsuit, AHF named both the city and then-Supervisor Scott Wiener as defendants.

Judge Richard Seeborg of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California had previously dismissed all of AHF’s state court claims in both cases and ruled that AHF’s previous constitutional claims were inadequately pled.  AHF amended its complaint in the original lawsuit again. On Nov. 21, the city brought a motion to dismiss the third amended complaint, arguing that AHF had not managed to state constitutional claims after multiple attempts. In response, AHF, in a court filing late Friday, voluntarily dismissed all of its remaining claims. 

“There was never any merit to their claims,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “The fact that they dropped their case sends that message loud and clear. AHF was mistaken when it argued that the U.S. Constitution allows it to put chain stores wherever it wants.  Courts have long recognized local governments’ broad authority to regulate land uses in myriad ways. San Francisco is no exception.”

The case is: AIDS Healthcare Foundation v. City and County of San Francisco, Supervisor Scott Wiener, et al., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:16-cv-02319-RS, filed August 1, 2014. Additional documentation from the case is available on the City Attorney’s website at: https://www.sfcityattorney.org/.

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