Colonies Partners v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs-respondents The Inland Oversight Committee (IOC) and Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development (CREED), were taxpayer organizations that challenged a November 2006 settlement agreement between petitioners County of San Bernardino and San Bernardino County Flood Control District (County) and defendant Colonies Partners, L.P. (Colonies and, together with County, defendants), pursuant to which County paid Colonies $102 million. Plaintiffs sought to have the settlement agreement declared void under state law governing conflicts of interests of government officials, and to force Colonies to disgorge any money already paid pursuant to the agreement. Colonies appealed the denial of its special motion to strike the complaint as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP motion) and two writ petitions, one brought by County, the other by Colonies, regarding the denial of their respective demurrers. This opinion addressed only Colonies’ writ petition; the Court of Appeal ruled on the pending writ petitions in separate opinions, issued contemporaneously with this. In its petition, Colonies contended the trial court erred by overruling its demurrer, because plaintiffs’ complaint suffers from three fatal pleading defects: (1) lack of standing, (2) the effect of a 2007 validation judgment, and (3) the inapplicability of Government Code, sections 1090 and 1092 to payments in satisfaction of a court judgment. The Court of Appeal agreed with Colonies that the demurrer should have been sustained without leave to amend based on plaintiffs’ lack of standing and the effect of the validation judgment; the Court declined to reach the merits of the third issue.