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Town will appeal state Supreme Court over Hot Creek appeal decision

December 31, 2010

The Town of Mammoth Lakes will appeal to the state Supreme Court for another chance to tell its airport lawsuit story, after losing its appeal of the Hot Creek Aviation lawsuit last week, according to Town Councilmember Rick Wood.

"We believe the decision (the appeals court made) will have state-wide impacts as to how municipalities conduct development agreements," he said, noting that all the state's cities and counties supported the Town of Mammoth Lake's position in court, as "friends of the court."

The state Supreme Court only takes cases that it judges to have state-wide implications, he said. He also said the Supreme Court only takes "about 5 percent" of the cases that are appealed to it, meaning the Town's chances to get heard are slim. Nevertheless, Wood said the Council believes the Town's case has very strong merit, making the attempt worth the effort and cost.

Barring a win at the Supreme Court level, the appeals court decision means the Town is officially liable to pay $30 million in damages.

Plus, the town is liable for about $2.5 million in legal fees , along with about 2 1/2 years of interest that accrued on these awards.

"To date, we have refrained from arguing our case in the press," said Mark Rosenthal of Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition, LLC., which pressed the case against the Town.

"We felt it appropriate to simply let the courts determine the merits of our claims.

"While we are still not prepared to make any of our own editorial comments, I think it will be clear from this opinion why the Hot Creek Developers were left with no alternative to filing suit.

"Many years were spent seeking an alternative to litigation, but we were unwilling to accept a solution that simply absolved the Town of its contractual obligations.

"Now that both trial and appellate courts affirmed the legal position that the Hot Creek Developers expressed to the Town's representatives for years," he wrote in an email, "perhaps your Town officials will choose to take responsibility for their actions and work with us to seek a realistic resolution to a problem of their own making, rather simply spending more money on legal fees."

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