David Casselman, attorney for Roque de la Fuente, said no decision had been made yet over whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of today’s state Supreme Court decision against his client.
If no appeal is sought, the potentially $150 million case would be headed for retrial. What would be at stake is another matter of contention between the city and de la Fuente.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who hailed today’s decision as a win for the city’s taxpayers, said only $29.2 million in claims from of the original verdict would be at issue in the retrial. (An appeals court last September threw out claims of $25.5 million and $39.8 million and sent another $29.2 million verdict back to trial. With fees and interest, it was estimated the city would have owed $150 million.)
However, Casselman said today that all of the facts that comprised three claims would be reasserted in a new trial. The $25.5 million and $39.8 million verdicts came on inverse condemnation claims, or allegations that the city purposefully drove down the value of de la Fuente’s land in order to take it at a discounted price.
The final $29.2 million, which was simply sent back to trial rather than being overturned, was on a breach of contract claim against the city.
Casselman said the appeals court decision simply eliminates the inverse condemnation claim, but not the facts of the case. “So the same evidence for inverse condemnation and breach of contract are being sent back to be tried only as breach of contract,” Casselman said.