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Negligence lawsuit against former Rep. Duncan Hunter is dismissed

Negligence lawsuit against former Rep. Duncan Hunter is dismissed
Duncan Hunter of the San Diego area served 14 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Associated Press)

A lawsuit filed earlier this year against former Rep. Duncan Hunter has been dismissed, and the judge made sure the case would not be refiled.

The complaint had accused Hunter of failing to properly process two adoptions he oversaw in 1980 while working as an attorney in private practice — before he was elected to the first of 14 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Plaintiffs Pedro Aguila and his two adopted children, Maria and Julio, accused Hunter of failing to complete paperwork for the adoptions from Mexico and, as a result, the children did not become U.S. citizens.

Judge Ronald L. Styn dismissed the suit with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled. He said in his ruling that it was simply too late to lodge such allegations.

"Plaintiffs fail to demonstrate a reasonable probability the complaint can be amended to plead around the … statute of limitations," the judge ruled on Sept. 23.

"Therefore … this ruling disposes of this case in its entirety," Styn said.

The Aguilas, who acted as their own attorneys, did not respond to questions about the decision.

Before he joined Congress in 1981, Hunter ran a law practice. He was one of a few lawyers in the lower-income Barrio Logan community and often discounted his fees.

The Aguilas' suit said Hunter committed negligence, fraud and misrepresentation when he assured the parents and their adopted children that they were naturalized citizens.

Attorney Elliot Adler, who represented the former congressman, said he and his client were pleased with the decision.

According to court records, Maria Aguila said she planned to appeal the ruling.

jeff.mcdonald@sduniontribune.com

McDonald writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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