Back in the Tunnel Again: State Court Rules Against City

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State Court Rules Against City in Lawsuit Over Breach of OBOT Lease

This afternoon, Judge Noël Wise published her “(Proposed) Statement of Decision” in the OBOT v Oakland trial that began on July 10, 2023. Finding in favor of the developers and against the City, Judge Wise has decided the outcome of the “liability phase” of the case, in which she heard testimony about which of the parties breached the “Ground Lease” in late 2018, stating “the Court finds the City breached the Parties’ Contract.” Her 95-page decision is posted here, on NCIO’s website (pages 5-32, about a quarter of the document, quotes Federal Judge Vince Chhabria’s 2018 decision in prior litigation).

As laid out in Judge Wise’s Order, also published this afternoon, both parties have 15 days to file comments or objections to the proposed decision; there may or may not be oral argument before the judge regarding comments or objections.

Damages Phase of Trial Begins November 28

The next phase of the trial is the “Remedy Phase” (a.k.a. “damages phase”). That phase will begin on Tuesday, November 28, and is expected to conclude that same week, according to the Judge’s Order. On November 16, 2023, a hearing will address “the nature and scope of the remedy sought,” as well as logistical matters, such as scheduling and expert witnesses.

At some point, according to the proposed decision, “OBOT may be required to make an election of remedies depending on the Court’s subsequent legal rulings.” That is, OBOT may be required to elect whether to pursue a monetary claim for alleged lost profits or reinstatement of the “Ground Lease” (the latter would allow the proposed marine terminal project to proceed).