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 Jonathan Corbett, Civil Rights Attorney

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Nightlife Rights

Live Nation’s Insomniac Doubles Down on Discriminatory Medicine Policy

medicineIn May, I wrote that I filed suit against Insomniac, the subsidiary of Live Nation that puts on Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), a 3-day music festival in Nevada that is the largest in the country.  The basis of the suit is that Insomniac prohibits all over-the-counter medicines from entering its festival, then sells the same medicines inside the festival at an inflated price, and additionally requires anyone bringing in prescription medications to show their prescription during a “consult” with a “safety officer” who has no medical qualifications nor any legal obligation to keep your info private.  All in the name of the “war on drugs,” of course.

Insomniac’s attorney, Greg Hurley of Sheppard Mullin, started off our lovely relationship with an unexpected 8:30 AM phone call yelling about how law students don’t know what they’re talking about and shouldn’t file lawsuits.  (Thanks for the tip, Greg!)  The tone of our relationship has continued to this day, with the Sheppard Mullin team refusing to participate in the case like good-faith officers of the court until motions for sanctions or other court intervention is threatened, and even just this month told me I’d be sanctioned for my frivolous lawsuit if I refuse to dismiss it.  (Good luck with that!)

Greg’s hot-headed temper notwithstanding, the interesting part of the legal side of the case is that Insomniac has doubled down, arguing to the court in a motion for summary judgment that what it’s doing is perfectly acceptable, and that if I don’t publicly disclose what my medical conditions are that require medicine (as they have, thus far, refused to agree to any confidentiality), or testify that I’ve never taken an illegal drug in my lifetime, I must just be a drug dealer:

In responses to Defendants’ discovery, Plaintiff has refused to disclose a medical condition impacted by these 2016 policies. Moreover, as Plaintiff has
refused to disclose whether or not Plaintiff uses, or intends to use, illegal drugs, it is reasonable to assume that this is merely an attempt to have a federal court strike a reasonable safety policy designed to protect against deaths from illegal drugs. It is hard to envision a clearer abuse of the ADA statute and the jurisdiction of this Court.

It is simply astounding that after filing suit over them treating those with medicine like drug dealers at the gates of EDC, their attorneys now give me the same treatment at the courthouse.  The Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to protect those with disabilities against being denied full access to public accommodations to whatever extent is reasonably possible.  Confiscating or harassing people over their medication at the festival gate is exactly the kind of thing the ADA prohibits.

I fully expect their motion to be denied.

Corbett v. Insomniac – Motion for Summary Judgment (.pdf)
Corbett v. Insomniac – Motion for Summary Judgment Opposition (.pdf)

What Is Wrong in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California?

My latest lawsuit, against EDC music festival promoter Insomniac, was filed in the U.S District Court located in Los Angeles (each state is divided into 1 or more federal districts, and Los Angeles is in one of California’s 4 districts called the “Central District of California”).  Last Tuesday, I filed that complaint as well as a motion for a temporary restraining order, and was shocked (and somewhat impressed) that the judge ruled on the motion the same day it was filed.  His ruling was that there is enough time to give the opposing party time to reply before the music festival, and so a temporary restraining order (which is a type of injunction heard without the other side) was inappropriate.

Fair enough — so I re-filed 2 days later, serving the motion on the other parties and asking the judge to reconsider the motion as a preliminary injunction (which is a type of injunction heard with the other side).  Again, a same day reply, but this time less impressive: motion denied with no reason given.

I was a bit surprised, as this kind of rapid bouncing of all documents was not typical of my experience in other U.S. District Courts (by my count, this is the 16th case I’ve filed in these courts).  So, I went to look up what other people had to say about the judge on The Robing Room — basically, Yelp for judges, where litigants who appear before (mostly) federal judges can rate their judge and write feedback.  But, right on the front page, I see this:

bad-usdc-cdca-judges

There are over 600 U.S. district judges, and while the federal courts up by San Francisco in the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal.) are ranked at the top, 5 of the 10 worst ranked federal judges in the country are in the Central District of California (C.D. Cal.).  The judge assigned to my case is the Hon. Philip S. Gutierrez, who ranks the 8th worst federal judge in country according to The Robing Room’s users.

Why have people ranked these 5 judges so low?  Here’s a look at some of the choice commentary:

“As a former colleague of Judge Keller’s, who observed him behind the scenes of the bench, I am very sorry to say that he lacks intellect, patience, and impartiality, and always has been arrogant and ill-tempered. He was, and continues to be, a disgrace to the bench on which he stubbornly continues to serve.”

–Anonymous Criminal Defense lawyer regarding the Hon. William D. Keller (ranked #1 worst), posted September 6th, 2012.  Judge Keller is a Reagan appointee who has been on the bench since 1984.

“I sat in the courtroom as an observer to a trial regarding securities laws. I was appalled at the behavior, conduct, and knowledge of the law (or rather the lack thereof) of this ‘judge.’ He is rude, and sleeps most of the time, only to open his mean eyes occasionally to bark at the lawyers or those who testify. At times he is completely disoriented and does not understand or follow the details of the case.”

–Anonymous Unspecified Commenter regarding the Hon. Manuel L. Real (ranked #2 worst), posted October 24th, 2013.  Judge Real is an LBJ appointee who has been on the bench since 1966 (!!). By my calculations he is 92 years old, and has apparently been removed from several cases for bias.

“Judge Wright bullied the defendants’ counsel, no retrain in exhibiting his blatant bias towards the prosecution, paraded around the courtroom waving a baseball bat, pushing said bat into his crotch while facing defendants female counsel, acting if he was about to strike the lawyers with it all outside the presents of a jury, referred to the people of California as ‘morons’, said marijuana defendants should be slapped around for a bit before being forced into a boot camp until they would no longer break the law.”

–Anonymous Unspecified Commenter regarding the Hon. Otis D. Wright, II (ranked #3 worst), posted June 7th, 2014.  Judge Wright is a Bush 43 appointee who has been on the bench since 2007.  The bat comment was corroborated by a second commenter the next day.

“I’ve been a litigator in state and federal courts for 37 years. Without question, Judge Anderson is the most offensive, laziest, most arrogant, insulting and imbalanced judge that I have ever had the misfortune to stand before.”

— Anonymous Civil Litigator regarding the Hon. Percy Anderson (ranked #6 worst), posted December 12th, 2013.  Judge Anderson is a Bush 43 appointee who has been on the bench since 2002.

…and finally, the judge assigned to my case:

“He is a very nice man, but he is not a very good judge. He looks for any excuse to get rid of civil cases and doesn’t care about the effect that has on the litigants and counsel. If you draw him, good luck.”

— Anonymous Civil Litigator regarding the Hon. Philip S. Gutierrez (ranked #8 worst), posted August 25th, 2015.  Judge Gutierrez is another Bush 43 appointee who has been on the bench since 2007.  This comment is corroborated by other posters who say that he “comes up with wacky ways to get rid of cases” and “[l]ooks for any reason to get rid of a case no matter how flimsy.”

Ah, that explains my motion being promptly denied without actual consideration.

Well, I filed the fastest Notice of Appeal in my experience on Friday, just 3 days after opening the case.  Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will have a look at the motion for preliminary injunction and Judge Gutierrez’ rapid denial of it without explanation.

Still, what’s with the concentration of low-ranked judges in this district?

Corbett v. Insomniac – Emergency Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal (.pdf)

Corbett Sues Music Festival Producer Insomniac Over Discriminatory Search

EDC 2015
EDC 2015 was a blast!

As some of you know, in addition to my civil rights advocacy, I’m a music fanatic, and I create and perform electronic music, as well as seek out the best music events across the world. The Electric Daisy Carnival music festival, held annually in Las Vegas, NV, has been one of my favorites because of the massive attention paid to creating an experience, rather than just a set of stages.

So it was much to my disappointment this year to read that EDC producer Insomniac has decided that it will not only search every attendee entering the venue with a self-described “TSA-style search,” but it will prohibit all over-the-counter medicine and require festival-goers to “explain” their prescription medication.

Music events since Woodstock have had drug usage, and I appreciate that Insomniac feels an obligation to minimize unlawful drug usage at its events.  However, this policy, beyond being invasive, is downright dangerous.  Many people need over-the-counter drugs to avoid serious medical issues.  Consider, for example, the person with allergies who carries Benadryl (diphenhydramine) to counter a reaction.  With the 18+ crowd that EDC attracts, will a teen with an allergy decide to leave his medication behind so he can go party, risking, well, death?

It’s also downright discriminatory.  No one should have to “explain” their HIV meds, schizophrenia drugs, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome in order to enter a place of public accommodation.  And unfortunately, Insomniac isn’t the only one to do it.  I’ve personally seen many nightclubs in America refuse entry to people with lawful medicine.  However, Insomniac is the first I’ve seen so blatantly publish such a policy for such a massive event.  As such, today I filed suit against Insomniac and the owner of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where EDC takes place, alleging discrimination as prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act and related state laws.

The case is Corbett v. Insomniac, 16-CV-3604, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, where Insomniac is headquartered.

Corbett v. Insomniac – Complaint with Exhibit (.pdf)

Corbett v. Insomniac – Motion for TRO (.pdf)

Corbett v. Insomniac – Motion for TRO Affidavit (.pdf)


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