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A Superior Court judge today ended the 15-year legal battle between San Diego and Roque de la Fuente by throwing out the South Bay developer’s final case against the city.

“It is a miracle,” said City Attorney Michael Aguirre of Judge Linda B. Quinn’s order to dismiss de la Fuente’s last claim in a series of cases that could have left the city with a $150 million liability. The ruling finalized an earlier temporary decision.

Three separate cases, which centered on de la Fuente’s Otay Mesa business park, date back to 1993. At that time the city sued de la Fuente for failure to pay assessments. He counter-sued, and in 2001 won $94.5 million in damages on a claim that the city’s actions caused him to go bankrupt.

The verdict was overturned on appeal, but de la Fuente appealed that decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court decided in May 2007 not to hear the appeal. But one case remained, which Aguirre said yesterday could have cost taxpayers $150 million had Quinn not dismissed it.

The dismissal “for all intents and purposes removes the $150 million threat,” Aguirre said.

For more background on the case read here and here.

DAVID WASHBURN

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