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EAST LOS ANGELES : Clinic Given 45 Days to Vacate Quarters

September 12, 1993|MARY ANNE PEREZ

A municipal judge ruled Friday that the county can evict the East Los Angeles Health Task Force from the space it has occupied at Centro Maravilla for 17 years.

The ruling by Judge Henry Barela in East Los Angeles Municipal Court brings to a close a year-long fight by the county to force the clinic, which offers free health screenings to senior citizens, to make room for other nonprofit agencies in Centro Maravilla's 3,000 square feet of office space.

Barela said the county must allow the clinic 45 days--until Oct. 26--to move from its offices at 4716 E. Brooklyn Ave.

Throughout the hearing, lawyers for the clinic argued that the county filed its lawsuit as a retaliatory measure because 14 clinic employees have filed claims against the county. The claims are related to a six-day eviction during which sheriff's deputies were called to lock out the staff.

But Barela told the task force attorney, Guy Lockhead,that because the eviction process began before the April 1 lockout and the claims for damages, retaliation does not seem to be a motive.

The judge also suggested that Lockhead and fellow attorney Antonio Rodriguez may have been in a conflict of interest for representing both the clinic and the employees who filed the claims.

Centro Maravilla Executive Director Geraldo Rodriguez testified Wednesday that he believed the clinic was not using all of its 25 offices to capacity.

He said that he informed his supervisor, Herb Oberman, program manager for the county Department of Community and Senior Citizens Services, that he saw examining tables and other equipment stored in some of the clinic's offices. And, he said, the employees had been using one office for a lunchroom while the center provided a common lunchroom for all its organizations.

Task Force executive director Susan Arellano testified that the lunchroom was inaccessible to her employees because it was being used as an office by another of the center's agencies, the Community Rehabilitation Services.

Geraldo Rodriguez also said Wednesday that the clinic reported that it served 43 patients a week on average, but he testified that he believed that was an exaggeration. He also said that most examinations are performed two days a week, with few patients seen the rest of the week. "We concluded that they could give up 40% of their space and still provide their services," he said.

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