LA Court Denies Cities' Claim for Financial Damages
L.A. Superior Court reaffirms previous decision and denies cities of Downey, Signal Hill and Cerritos request to be paid "damages" for past years' water rates
LAKEWOOD, Calif., May 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last week the Los Angeles Superior Court denied a motion filed by the cities of Downey, Signal Hill and Cerritos demanding to be repaid for water purchased during four previous years. The court's decision reaffirms an earlier ruling that bars award of any potential damages until a trial and final judgment is reached. Currently, no trial has been set.
In a written decision, Judge James Chalfant stated ". . . the writ cannot issue until final judgment. The Court said that on April 25, 2011 and nothing about that conclusion has changed." Judge Chalfant explained, "As demonstrated by WRD, there are legal and factual issues which must be addressed with respect to this claim . . . . The cities motion is denied."
Despite the previous ruling, the cities continued their legal fight, choosing to waste taxpayer money on procedurally defective motions. While the cities have continued to pump water from the basin they have refused to pay their water bills for 14 consecutive months.
"The cities have falsely claimed for several months that the pending legal case was final and all that remained was the award for damages," stated WRD Board President, Albert Robles. "The Court's decision makes it clear that the case is not over and far from it as a trial date has not even been set yet."
Ironically, while the cities continue to withhold payment of their water bills to the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD), they continue to charge residents and businesses, and hypocritically shut off the water to unemployed and/or economically stressed non-paying citizens.
"Unfortunately, it's the ratepayers who bear the burden of paying millions of dollars in this unnecessary legal gamesmanship," said Albert Robles. "We hope that the Court's decision allows us a moment to pause and begin working together to solve the water crisis facing all ratepayers rather than waste more precious public resources squabbling."
The Water Replenishment District of Southern California is the regional groundwater management agency that protects and preserves the quantity and quality of groundwater for two of the most utilized urban basins in the State of California. The service area is home to over ten percent of California's population residing in 43 cities in southern Los Angeles County. WRD is governed by a publicly elected Board of Directors which includes Willard H. Murray, Jr., Robert Katherman, Lillian Kawasaki, Sergio Calderon, and Albert Robles.
For more information, please visit WRD at www.wrd.org