Myles M. Mattenson
5550 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Suite 200
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Telephone (818) 313-9060
Facsimile (818) 313-9260
"Alcohol And Free Speech!"

      Myles M. Mattenson engages in a general civil and trial practice including litigation and transactional services relating to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, franchising, business, purchase and sale of real estate, easements, landlord-tenant, partnership, corporate, insurance bad faith, personal injury, and probate legal matters.

      In providing services to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, Mr. Mattenson has represented equipment distributors, coin laundry and dry cleaning business owners confronted with landlord-tenant issues, lease negotiations, sale documentation including agreements, escrow instructions, and security instruments, as well as fraud or misrepresentation controversies between buyers and sellers of such businesses.

      Mr. Mattenson serves as an Arbitrator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is also past chair of the Law Office Management Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Mattenson received his Bachelor of Science degree (Accounting) in 1964 and his Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University School of Law in 1967.

      Bi-monthly articles by Mr. Mattenson on legal matters of interest to the business community appear in alternate months in The Journal, a leading coin laundry industry publication of the Coin Laundry Association, and Fabricare, a leading dry cleaning industry publication of the International Fabricare Institute. During the period of May 1995 through September 2002, Mr. Mattenson contributed similar articles to New Era Magazine, a coin laundry and dry cleaning industry publication which ceased publication with the September 2002 issue.

      This website contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's New Era Magazine articles which can be retrieved through a subject or chronological index. The website also contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's Journal and Fabricare articles, which can be retrieved through a chronological index.

      In addition to Mr. Mattenson's trial practice, he has successfully prosecuted and defended appeals on behalf of his clients in various areas of the law. Some of these appellate decisions are contained within his website.




I am quite sure that an article can be authored demonstrating the relationship between alcohol and free speech; however, this will not be that article!  These topics are simply the subjects of separate appeals in California.




During one evening in April 2000, Leonardo’s, an Oxnard, California, bar, dance club and restaurant entertained between 400 and 500 patrons for a party.  Sophia, age 15, and Patricia, age 18, entered Leonardo’s during the late evening hours, in an intoxicated condition.


In order to provide security for the party, the owners of Leonardo’s engaged an outside security firm to provide personnel for the evening.  One of the outside security guards and the Leonardo’s bartender broke up a fight between Sophia and another patron.  Thereafter, Sophia announced that she was leaving the party.  Sophia was bleeding, but declined medical assistance.


In the parking lot, Sophia and Patricia appeared to be very angry when they walked from the back door of the bar to their automobile.  The guard offered to summon an ambulance, but Sophia refused.  Patricia, according to the guard, used “bad language” to deter him from calling the police, and stated that she would take Sophia to a hospital.  The guard assisted Sophia into Patricia’s automobile and with her seat belt.  Patricia left “burning rubber, very fast.”


Patricia drove northbound on the 101 Freeway in excess of 100 miles per hour and collided with a light pole.  The automobile rolled down an embankment, struck a tree and a chainlink fence, and overturned.  Sophia was ejected.  The girls died immediately from head and chest injuries.  Patricia’s blood alcohol level was .21% at the time.


The heirs asserted that the outside security guards had breached their duty of care to Sophia and Patricia by not acting as “reasonable security guards under the circumstances.”  The court rejected the argument with dispatch, noting:


“Although Leonardo’s may have employed [the outside security guards] in part to insure that minors were not consuming alcoholic beverages, that job responsibility is not equivalent to a legal duty of care to underage patrons to prevent them from drinking or driving while intoxicated.”


In support of this conclusion, the court observed that in another similar situation, police officers who were investigating a party at which minors were consuming alcoholic beverages had no duty to prevent intoxicated minors from driving.



One evening in April 1996, David appeared at a meeting of his local school board.  Members of the public could speak to the board and were afforded the use of a microphone located in front of the board members.


Before the meeting which gave rise to litigation, David had attended several other board meetings expressing concern about trash left by high school students in the neighborhood around the campus.  At one meeting, he brought a bag of rubbish and lifted the bag in the air as he discussed the trash problem.  He asserted that the bag contained drug paraphernalia and alcohol containers.


At the meeting in question, David brought five 13-gallon bags of trash and placed them in the back of the room before the meeting commenced.  He had apparently been collecting the garbage over a period of several weeks. 


During the meeting, David addressed the board and after speaking about seismic retrofitting and traffic improvements related to the building of a new middle school, he told the board he wanted to discuss the subject of trash.


“He said, ‘Excuse me one minute while I bring up some trash.’  He went to the back of the room and retrieved two or three bags, gloves and plastic tarp.”


The room in which the meeting was held was used as the school cafeteria and student assembly room and also for an after-school childcare program.


David advised the board that he intended to underscore his point and untied the bags of trash and dumped the garbage upon the tarp.  Because the tarp has not been carefully spread, some of the trash spilled onto the floor.


David was thereafter arrested for disturbing a public meeting and asserted, as a defense, that his actions constituted speech protected by the First Amendment.


The court, in rejecting David’s claim, provided an interesting discussion regarding the subject of free speech.


“Audience activities, such as heckling, interrupting, harsh questioning, and booing, even though they  may be impolite and discourteous, can nonetheless advance the goals of the First Amendment.  For many citizens such participation in public meetings, whether supportive or critical of the speaker, may constitute the only manner in which they can express their views to a large number of people; the Constitution does not require that the effective expression of ideas be restricted to rigid and predetermined patterns.”


The court also noted that the Constitution affords some measure of protection to all those present at a meeting, including speakers, officials, and the audience.  As an illustration, the court notes that, “Freedom of everyone to talk at once can destroy the right of anyone effectively to talk at all.”  A legitimate concern is thus retained by the state to prohibit disturbances, although those disturbances might collide with safeguarding the right of free speech provided under the First Amendment.


The moral of the story?  Be careful in selecting the bar in which you elect to stop for a nightcap, and leave your trash in the dumpster!

[This column is intended to provide general information only  and
is  not intended to provide specific legal advice; if you have  a
specific  question  regarding the  law,  you  should  contact  an
attorney  of your choice.  Suggestions for topics to be discussed
in this column are welcome.]

Reprinted from The Journal
Myles M. Mattenson © 2005