Court Filings

By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 05/06/15 – 5:51 PM PDT |

Ontario basically sold its airport to Los Angeles 48 years ago, and there was no turning back, L.A.’s lawyers argued in court documents filed Wednesday.

In the latest twist in Ontario’s legal battle to wrest control of ONT from L.A.’s ownership, L.A. argued that a 1967 joint-powers agreement effectively turned over control of the struggling airport to L.A., which says it complied with the government’s procedures to sell a municipal airport.

In effect, L.A. contends in court documents filed with the 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside that Ontario essentially sold the airport in 1967, when the City Council discussed the joint-powers agreement at two separate meetings before adopting it.

Ultimately, L.A. acquired the airport in 1985.

“Once Ontario made the discretionary decision to enter into the JPA and thereby agreed to transfer ONT when Los Angeles met certain specified conditions, there was nothing left to be done in 1985 except to administratively perform whatever was necessary to comply with the JPA,” according to the response signed by L.A. attorneys Steven Rosenthal and Joshua Stambaugh.

The court of appeal issued a writ late last month indicating that Ontario’s petition to dissolve the decades-old agreement that handed over control of ONT has merit.

The April 16 order stated the court was inclined to issue a writ, unless Los Angeles submits a brief on or before May 5 showing good cause why it should not do that.

L.A.’s 52-page filing Wednesday was a response.

Attorneys for L.A. also contend that Ontario failed to bring forward its lawsuit within a four-year statute of limitations.

Ontario has questioned the validity of the 1985 acquisition because it was classified by L.A. as a sale. Ontario believes that a sale would have required a public vote.

Ontario petitioned to the court of appeal last month after Riverside Superior Court Judge Gloria Connor Trask sided with L.A. on two claims during a January ruling.

Trask stated that the contracts were voidable but Ontario waited too long to try to terminate the existing joint-powers agreement, as well as the 1985 agreement transferring control of the airport to Los Angeles.

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