A Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner upheld a contract agreement this week between the city of Los Angeles and the operator of the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, denying the operator's request to pull out of the deal, officials said.
Eddie Milligan, who has run the equestrian center since 1989, had filed a motion as part of a lawsuit against the city to set aside a contract he signed in October.
In that contract, Milligan agreed to take a 21-year concession lease, with the promise of another nine years if the city receives an extension on its own lease on the property from the Army Corps of Engineers.
"There was no reason to set aside the settlement, no legal basis," said Assistant City Atty. Marcia Kamine of the decision.
"The city is comfortable with this. We have a concessionaire in place who knows how to run the facility, we have a contract in place and we're happy about that."
Milligan said the ruling was a good one for him even though he did not prevail because he is confident he will eventually get the full 30 years he had originally been promised.
He said that while he was willing to give up on the center, he is now looking forward to running the facility.
"Whatever hand they deal me, that's the way I'm going to play it," Milligan said. "The [commissioner] dealt me a favorable hand today. If she had dealt me a different hand, I would have played it differently."
At a hearing Thursday, the commissioner also sent the case back to a mediator, who will assess damages owed to Milligan.
The contract stipulates that once damages are assessed, Milligan's $18 million lawsuit would be dismissed.
In the suit filed in 1996, Milligan claimed that the board of recreation and park commissioners reneged on its agreement to give him a 30-year sublease on the property when he took over the then-closed center.
City officials said they didn't have 30 years to give because the city hadn't received an extension on its own lease. But, last year, the city asked the Corps for that extension.
"When we get the time, he'll get the time," Kamine said.