Tesla Files Complaint v. Alameda County – Should More Businesses Also File Their Complaints – Are Settlements Possible?

David W. Tate, Esq., San Francisco and California – dave@tateattorney.com

The following is a link to a copy of Tesla’s Complaint against Alameda County in which Tesla challenges Alameda County’s ongoing business limitation order as it applies to Tesla and the business that Tesla operates as that business is described by Tesla: Tesla v Alameda County Complaint copy. Tesla’s Complaint is brought only on behalf of itself and is fairly limited in the claims and arguments that are asserted.

On a procedural basis Tesla could have brought its current claims and also could have challenged the County on additional alternative grounds such as, for example, every business operates under its own facts and circumstances, different businesses have different COVID-19 risks, and different businesses can or might be able to address those risks in different manners that are as effective, such as, for example, grocery stores which have been allowed to be open and have workers. At this point Tesla also has accepted or at least has not challenged the orders from the Governor or whether the Governor has the authority to issue those orders. In the alternative however, Tesla can also challenge the actions of the Governor – for example, also argue that the Governor’s actions are a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or are arbitrary, or are speculative, or are not based on verifiable facts or evidence, or cannot be applied the same to the different counties in the State or different businesses throughout the State each of which counties and businesses has its own set of facts and circumstances.

Each plaintiff must evaluate which claims to allege that it believes will put it in the best position to succeed in its objectives and to prevail. It might well be that Tesla really would simply prefer to reach a resolution with Alameda County that will allow Tesla to open and operate its entire factory or perhaps only certain most important parts of the factory. There might well be more issues at stake for Alameda County – currently as Tesla’s operations are limited, what does Tesla have to lose by filing its Complaint? The County, however, has had its authority and actions challenged and could lose or partially lose on both accounts not just with respect to Tesla but also perhaps with respect to other businesses. On the other hand, based on Tesla’s pleadings, what if the Court does not view the Governor’s order as being the law of the land, or as limiting the specific actions that Alameda County took and ordered, or what if the Court is of a view that gives deference to governmental actions particularly when it can at least be argued that those actions involve widespread public health and safety circumstances, or what if the Court doesn’t view the County’s actions as being taken without at least some sufficient reasonable basis, or what if the Court is of a view that the County should be given an opportunity to tweak, modify or remedy its actions or orders, or what if the Court disagrees with Tesla’s description of its operating business as being (solely?) solar and batteries? There are good reasons for Alameda County and Tesla to both try to the extent possible to resolve this dispute – at least at this point Tesla’s Compliant is written only on behalf of itself and not on behalf of all businesses or on behalf of all businesses that are similarly situated, which in theory makes settlement between the two parties less complicated, but also keeps the option and threat of possible amendment viable.

I am not writing this post to evaluate Tesla’s claims, nor can I based on the information that I have. However, I have previously written that I would have expected and I believe that we should expect to see from the various governmental entities detailed explanations wherein they in detail argue or persuade that they have the legal authority to take the actions that they have taken. Tesla does in part discuss this in its Complaint with respect to Alameda County. The following is a link to my prior post in which I discuss some of these topics and in that post I have included a link to an eight page paper in which the authors discuss legal aspects of state powers to order isolation, quarantine, health and inspection laws to interrupt or prevent the spread of disease – click on the following link for my prior post: https://wp.me/p75iWX-uf

Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco and California) – dave@tateattorney.com


Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

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Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only.

I am also the Chair of the Business Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.


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