Anaheim Won't Pay Angels' Tab

Times Staff Writer

The Angels are not entitled to recover the estimated $7 million they spent to defend themselves in a lawsuit filed by the city of Anaheim, a judge ruled Friday.

In February, an Orange County Superior Court jury found that the Angels had not violated their stadium lease by adding Los Angeles to their name. The Anaheim City Council voted in May to appeal that decision, citing in part the Angels' unwillingness to waive the right to seek reimbursement.

Friday's ruling means the city is not liable for the Angels' legal bill and city officials vowed to press on with the appeal.

"If anything, it lessens the Angels' ability to offer us an incentive," City Manager Dave Morgan said. "They would have been better served to work with us previously."

Said Mayor Curt Pringle, "We had been contemplating ways in which we could avoid moving forward with the appeal, but our hand was forced. We filed the appeal, and we'll move forward."

Since the city sued and lost, the Angels argued, the city should have been responsible for the Angels' attorneys' fees. Judge Peter Polos said he denied the request because the lease contained no such provision for reimbursement. The parties could have included such language had they so intended, he said.

The lease expires in 2016, and Angels owner Arte Moreno said last year he would consider moving the team if the case proceeded to the appellate court. On Friday, Angels attorney George Stephan told Polos his ruling would prevent the city from reimbursement if it won a future lawsuit against the team. "What if we moved the team? What if we don't cooperate with the NFL?" Stephan said, the latter question referring to Anaheim's bid to lure the NFL to a proposed stadium in the Angel Stadium parking lot. City officials say their proposal does not require the Angels' approval.

As Friday's court hearing concluded, Stephan again cited how Polos' ruling might affect the city if the Angels move. Then Stephan turned to the audience -- and the three reporters seated there -- and said, "I'm not saying we're going to do that in any way, shape or form."

The Angels are likely to appeal Friday's ruling and have 60 days to do so.

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