Westfield Sues LA County to Reopen Malls

The operator of the Westfield Culver City is suing Los Angeles County, seeking to reopen its malls and challenging the coronavirus shutdown in the region.

In their court papers obtained this week, Westfield - which also operates the indoor malls in Topanga, Sherman Oaks, Valencia and Santa Anita - maintains that their indoor malls are safer than other large retailers and declares that there is "absolutely no public health justification" for their forced closure.

"The county's arbitrary closure of indoor malls and their interior retailers has caused, and will continue to cause, substantial harms to plaintiffs, their employees, the community, and the retailers, operators, and employees of indoor malls and shopping centers throughout the county," the suit states. "These harms include monetary losses due to reduced income, sales, and rent payments, and non-monetary and existential losses in the form of the loss of customer goodwill."

The lawsuit, filed late Monday in Los Angeles federal court, comes on the heels of a proposed federal class-action suit brought by a group of business owners who are pushing back against the closure of the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance.

Officials from the county's Department of Public Health have declined to comment on the pending Del Amo lawsuit, but stated that they will apply science and state health guidelines as signposts to any reopening.

"From the onset of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has been intensely committed to protecting the health and safety of its residents through an unprecedented crisis using science and data and responding in real time to a deadly and previously unknown virus that has tragically claimed thousands of lives and upended life for millions of people - not just in Los Angeles County but across the nation and around the world," according to the county's statement.

In addition to LA County, the Westfield lawsuit also names the county Board of Supervisors, Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis and Sheriff Alex Villanueva as plaintiffs.


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