Appellate court rules on Poway property lawsuit
The two sides in a long-running legal fight involving the City of Poway and two property owners each won and lost in a recent state appellate court ruling.
In a decision dated June 29, the Fourth District court reversed a 2009 decision by Superior Court Judge Frederic Linc, who had granted judgment in favor of Poway residents Lee and Don Tartre and Diane and Alex Armstrong against the city for violations of their civil rights under federal law. The court also reversed the trial judge’s award of $407,000 in attorney’s fees under the federal civil right law.
However, the court affirmed a May 2009 jury verdict for $187,272.80 in damages for negligence when city employees removed the property owners’ trees.
The lawsuit on behalf of the Tartres and the Armstrongs was filed after Poway employees mistakenly relied on an old sewer easement description when undertaking efforts to clear the easement of trees and other growth in January 2007.
“There is no question that we made an error by relying on outdated documents,” Mayor Don Higginson said this week in a prepared statement. “We acknowledged the error and the city’s insurance provider had already prepared a check to pay the jury’s award at the time of the trial court decision.”
The City Council is expected to review the ruling during a closed session with its attorney on July 17.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Karen Forstrom, was unavailable on Friday to comment on the ruling.
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