Coronavirus testing company seeks backup service for Villanueva – Santa Monica Daily Press

A coronavirus testing firm is asking a judge to allow substitute service for Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, saying a trial server has not been able to serve him personally with a petition aimed at preventing the possible filing a lawsuit against him for defamation to make a discovery.

Fulgent Genetics Inc. and its subsidiary Fulgent Therapeutics LLC, in a petition filed Jan. 21 in Los Angeles Superior Court, allege that in a Nov. 29 letter to the board of directors posted on the LASD website, Villanueva The FBI warned him against using Fulgent’s COVID-19 testing services because it “concerns information” that the company would provide county employees’ DNA data to China.

The letter referred to an FBI briefing that Villanueva said took place the day after Thanksgiving.

Fulgent state attorneys filed Thursday in court filings that Villanueva evaded personal service of the Jan. 21 petition and that his personal attorney refused to accept service of service on his behalf, so they want a judge to conduct service publication or other alternative means because Villanueva is a “necessary or appropriate party” to the lawsuit.

“Rich irony considering that (Villanueva), in his professional capacity as sheriff, oversees the delivery of court documents to the county’s reluctant defendants,” Fulgent’s attorneys note in their court filings. “[Villanueva’s]apparent willful refusal of service leaves Fulgent with no choice but to seek redress from this court. The county’s chief law enforcement officer, who is accused of serious misconduct, has simply accepted the unfortunate position that he is above the law.”

Fulgent first attempted to attend to Villanueva at his Temple Street office late Monday morning, but the process officer was not allowed into the building and was told it was closed, according to court filings held by Fulgent’s attorneys. The bailiff was told that Villanueva might be at the nearby County Courthouse, but when the bailiff went there he was told that the sheriff’s whereabouts were unknown, according to Fulgent attorneys’ court records.

The bailiff went to Villanueva’s house that evening and spoke to a woman who refused to confirm or deny if he lived there, so the bailiff returned to the residence on Tuesday morning and heard dogs barking, but Fulgent said no one answered the door Attorneys’ court records.

Future attempts to serve Villanueva at work or at home through Wednesday were also unsuccessful, Fulgent’s attorneys note in their court filings.

“(Villanueva’s) refusal and evasion of service, if permitted, will deprive Fulgent of its right to petition this court to conduct a pretrial investigation under California law,” Fulgent’s attorneys explain in their court filings.

According to the petition, Villanueva made the China claim and other false statements about Fulgent, although the FBI has not accused the company of wrongdoing or alluded to evidence that Fulgent had or would provide private medical information to China.

Villanueva knew the statements he released about Fulgent five days later were false, and the county emailed its staff stating, “The county has no evidence from law enforcement or any other source that that data from employees of the district has been or will be shared with the Chinese government,” the petition reads.

Villanueva’s comments were shared on social media, including by some anti-vaccination groups, and prompted a protest against Fulgent on December 14, the petition said. Also, according to the petition, a window was blown out at Fulgent’s Temple City headquarters.

Fulgent is seeking an injunction ordering Villanueva to produce all personal and LASD-issued cell phone text messages and emails related to Fulgent, the publication of the letter, and his involvement in the coordination and scheduling of the FBI briefing. The company also wants Villanueva to sit for a four-hour testimony.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

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