Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 4, 2011

Judge dismisses Lin family lawsuit against Pleasanton

Could be appealed; similar case awarded $30 million to developer

by Glenn Wohltmann

Pleasanton has won its legal battle with landowners Jennifer and Fredric Lin, who sued the city for the right to build 51 houses on 600 acres they own in the southeast hills.

The Lin family's lawsuit against the city of Pleasanton was dismissed last week by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

Gonzalez Rogers cited "poison pill" language and said both the ordinances involved were voided when one of them was overturned in last year's referendum.

"The unambiguous language of Ordinance No. 1962 contemplates that should Ordinance No. 1961 be repealed by referendum, Ordinance No. 1962 shall have no force and effect," Gonzalez Rogers said in her decision.

"The only reasonable interpretation of this language is that it constitutes a conditional acceptance, approving the development agreement only so long as the condition of Ordinance No. 1961's repeal by referendum did not come to pass. Once the referendum occurred, the condition came to pass, and no contractual duty was created, or alternatively, at best, was discharged."

Assistant City Attorney Larissa Seto said the city is pleased with the decision. She added that while the Lins may not pursue the case at the trial court level, the family may appeal the decision.

"While this completes the action on this breach of contract matter at the trail court level, it does not preclude the Lins from pursuing other new claims based on other legal allegations," Seto added.

In her ruling, Gonzalez Rogers cited a case involving Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition LLC v. Town of Mammoth Lakes; however, the ruling in that case, which involved a similar poison pill issue, preceded a jury trial that awarded $30 million to the developer.

The Lin's attorney, Andrew Sabey, said in court that he thought Gonzalez Rogers' decision could be overturned on appeal. Sabey was unable to be reached for comment on the decision and whether he would appeal.

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