Big-name attorneys Brian Kabateck and Mark Geragos teamed up to hit the city of Los Angeles and Mayor Eric Garcetti with a lawsuit late last month. What issue drew such legal firepower? A street closure permit for their holiday party.

Kabateck, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, and Geragos, a criminal defense lawyer who’s represented Michael Jackson and Winona Ryder, throw an annual party at the Engine Co. No. 28 building, which they jointly own, in downtown Los Angeles. The festivities spill outside onto Lebanon Street, which is an alleylike street behind the building. For the past five years, the two have managed to get a permit for a partial street closure to accommodate the overflow.

This year’s party, scheduled for Dec. 19, is expected to draw about 500 people and will feature food and a live band. But the city rejected their permit request, citing fire safety concerns.

“We were kind of incensed about it,” Kabateck said. “I know the whole thing sounds silly, but for us it’s the one party we do every year. We want people to come to our party and enjoy doing it.”

He filed a lawsuit two days before Thanksgiving – drafting it in “about half an hour” – and said the two were able to get a line on City Attorney Mike Feuer, who assigned his deputies to look into it.

It turned out someone in the city’s Fire Department misclassified the street as an “alley,” which the department is loath to close, and not a “street,” according to Kabateck. The problem cleared up, they received a permit and plan to pull the lawsuit. A spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office confirmed the permit issues were resolved.

Did the city deny the wrong people?

“I’m not going to say that – you can,” Kabateck said.

“I know it sounds like a couple powerful guys with great connections, but I think regular citizens reaching out to elected officials can get satisfaction in situations like this,” he added. “If you get to the right people and explain the situation, they end up being very reasonable.”

– Alfred Lee

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