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A licensed marijuana company lost their $500,000 crop after Blythe ordered it to vacate an unpermitted greenhouse. Now, Icon Desert Logistics lost its lawsuit challenging the city’s order and requesting compensation for its loss.

The mutual benefit company had converted a Blythe building to a hydroponic marijuana greenhouse without the proper permits, and in violation of a city ordinance prohibiting marijuana companies within 600 feet of parks and churches, according to the motion for summary judgment.

Blythe police suspected the building was being used without permits, and conducted a warranted inspection June 14, 2018. After the inspection, a Blythe city inspector ordered the building to be vacated.

Marijuana plants, dependent on the hydroponic system, died after Icon Desert removed them from the greenhouse. Icon Desert estimated the loss at $500,000 in their complaint.

Icon Desert Logistics, with Chief Executive Officer Thomas Lawson and building co-owners Xiaotong Liu and Keyao Yu, sued Blythe, Riverside County, a Blythe officer, and a sheriff’s deputy. In their third amended complaint, filed Feb. 4, 2021, they sued to recover their losses. They held four causes of action: unreasonable search and seizure, municipal liability, trespass and relief.

They claimed the inspection was pretextually made in order to gather evidence for a criminal investigation, and lacked probable cause.

Summary judgment

California Central District Judge Christina Snyder ruled that the city inspector had valid reason to believe the property violated Blythe ordinances that prohibit residing overnight in a commercial building. A man had previously told the inspector that he sometimes slept inside.

Snyder also ruled there was no evidence that there was any criminal investigation oncoming. No one was arrested or detained, no one was threatened with an arrest and no criminal investigation was ever conducted, according to the motion for summary judgment.

Further, the defendants argued that no law enforcement officer asked the city inspector to obtain the warrant for criminal purposes.

The officers also are entitled to qualified immunity, Snyder found.

Case information

Gary Carlin, Francis Xavier Flynn, Ali Sachani and Matthew Chen of Long Beach’s Law Offices of Gary R. Carlin represented Icon Desert Logistics.

Kayleigh Andersen and Mathew Walker of San Bernardino’s Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard and Smith, Allen Christiansen of Santa Ana’s Ferguson Praet and Sherman, Arthur Cunningham of Riverside’s Jackson Lewis and Christopher Lockwood of San Bernardino’s Arias and Lockwood represented the defendants.

California Central District Judge Christina Snyder presided.

Case number 5:20-cv-02225.

Read the third amended complaint here.

Read the defendant’s motion for summary judgment here.

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