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A federal appeals court today upheld a ruling today in the long-fought Roque de la Fuente case, potentially freeing the city of San Diego from a $150 million burden.

The ruling confirms a lower court judgment that tossed out $94.5 million in jury verdicts against the city and sent another $29.2 million ruling back to trial. When interest is added, the 2001 court findings against the city were expected to cost taxpayers up to $150 million.

The payment has long hung over the head of the cash-strapped city and has served as a potential triggering point for a bankruptcy filing. Today’s ruling from the Fourth District Court of Appeals offers the city further hope that it can escape the costs of the lengthy legal drama, although further appeals could be forthcoming.

“It’s as if we’re back to the beginning again. It’s as if after all these years we’re at the starting point and the city has new life,” said City Attorney Mike Aguirre.

Lawyers for de la Fuente, a South Bay developer, were either out of the office or in meetings as of the time of this post.

In 2001, a jury sided with de la Fuente, saying the city breached its contract with de la Fuente’s Border Business Park and worked to drive down the value of his land by proposing a cross-border airport and funneling truck traffic through the business park.

Read the ruling here. Check back with us later for more.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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