judges-gavel

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/16/2013 06:51:47 PM PDT

A San Diego Superior Court judge, in an effort to encourage a settlement between San Bernardino County, and Upland and two transportation agencies, purged his Feb. 5 decision to dismiss all damages claims the county made against the city and the two agencies.

Judge Ronald Prager, during a Feb. 22 status conference hearing in San Diego Superior Court, told attorneys he was willing to vacate his ruling if it would help end the nearly nine years of litigation that cost taxpayers a collective total of $46 million, He had previously dismissed the county’s damages claims on grounds that its $102 million settlement with Rancho Cucamonga investor group Colonies Partners LP in 2006 was corrupt.

Colonies bankrolled a residential and commercial development on a 434-acre parcel of land in Upland, which was hindered by flood control damage due to the extension of the 210 Freeway and the rerouting of an Upland storm drain that diverted floodwater onto Colonies’ property, the developer. Jeff Burum, alleged in a lawsuit filed in March 2002.

The county, in its lawsuit against Upland, Caltrans and San Bernardino Associated Governments (SanBAG), alleged the defendants were responsible for the flood damage because they headed the infrastructure projects, and the county sought partial reimbursement for the settlement, which state and local prosecutors now say was tainted by bribery.

Prager told attorneys at last month’s hearing that he had rescinded his ruling in a prior case involving a fitness club to faciliate a settlement and was willing to do the same for them, according to the hearing transcript. He voiced his concern over governmental entities fighting with each other and running up huge attorney’s fee in times of such scarcity.

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