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Consumer Protection Unit

 June 23, 2009

Contact: Gary Rhoades, Deputy City Attorney

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit has filed an unlawful business practices lawsuit against David Ganezer, publisher of the Santa Monica Observer newspaper. According to the lawsuit, filed last week in Santa Monica Superior Court, Ganezer’s newspaper and website make two false claims:
1. that the Observer is authorized to publish legal notices; and
2. that Ganezer’s businesses are entitled to provide legal services

The case was brought on behalf of the People of the State of California under the California Unfair Competition Law.

Ganezer’s corporations include the Santa Monica Media Company LLC, Ivory Towers LDA LLC, and SM Outlook, LLC, and the businesses he operates through those corporations include Easy Legal Services,, and the Santa Monica Observer Newspaper. According to the lawsuit, Ganezer claims in his newspaper and his website that the Santa Monica Observer Newspaper is a “legally adjudicated” newspaper that can publish legal notices, including property notices such as foreclosures – and that it is the only paper allowed to do so in Santa Monica. The lawsuit alleges that Ganezer has not obtained the required court authorization to publish notices; and that at least two other local newspapers have done so.

The lawsuit also alleges that while providing services through and Easy Legal Services, Ganezer has held himself out as entitled to practice law, offering attorney consultations, “family law” services, and general legal assistance. However, the lawsuit claims that Ganezer gave up his law license in 2001 pending charges filed against him by the California State Bar.

These general allegations have resulted in a number of unlawful business practices, according to the lawsuit. They include:
1. False advertising;
2. Falsely holding oneself out as entitled to practice law;
3. Providing Legal Document Assistance services without registration;
4. Committing perjury on a business license application;
5. Operating in Santa Monica without a business license.

“It’s easy to believe statements we read on websites and it’s also easy to make them,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “Anyone using legal services should always double-check the provider on the State Bar website.” Rhoades added that anyone seeking to publish a legal notice should verify the authority of the newspaper to do so with the County.

The lawsuit seeks a court order barring the unlawful practices and also seeks a $2,500 civil penalty for each separate unlawful act.

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