Attorneys for Ontario are petitioning the state 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside to reverse a ruling upholding the decades-old agreement that gave Los Angeles control of L.A./Ontario International Airport.
Ontario’s attorney, Andre Cronthall, filed a motion on Tuesday claiming the 1985 acquisition of ONT was invalid because a sale would have required a public vote.
“...The public was never put on notice regarding any purported sale or transfer of ONT in 1967 or 1985. As a result, the public was denied its constitutional and statutory right to a referendum,” Cronthall wrote in the 61-page document.
The filing disputes a ruling by Riverside Superior Court Judge Gloria Connor Trask on March 19 in which Trask validated the 1967 joint-powers agreement that initially turned over control of ONT to Los Angeles.
Traske found that Ontario had an opportunity to rescind a 1985 agreement that turned the deed over to L.A. but waited too long to exercise the option.
Cronthall argues that the four-year statue of limitations mentioned in Trask’s decision does not apply and asks the court of appeals to overturn the ruling. “A statute of limitation cannot make valid that which is void,” Cronthall wrote.
Ontario and Los Angeles were expected to be in Superior Court this week on a separate motion in the lawsuit but the date was pushed to Wednesday. The hearing will address the claim filed by attorneys for L.A. in February, arguing that Ontario waited too long to seek any damages on three claims in the suit alleging breach of fiduciary duty, contract, and covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Ontario filed a lawsuit in June 2013 against Los Angles and Los Angeles World Airports, the L.A. agency that operates ONT, Los Angeles International Airport and Van Nuys Airport. The suit, heading to trial in August, seeks to transfer control of the airport to an Inland Empire authority and argues that LAWA has failed to develop air service at the Ontario airport since 2007.
LAWA officials have said the airline industry was hit by the Great Recession and high oil prices, forcing some carriers to concentrate operations at airports like LAX. They also contend that LAWA cannot tell airlines where to fly, and that the reduction in operations was due to the economic conditions in the industry.