3.04.2008

TS - Gallegos asks Supreme Court to review Palco ruling

Gallegos asks Supreme Court to review Palco ruling

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos is asking the state Supreme Court to review an appellate court's ruling that allowed his fraud suit against the Pacific Lumber Co. to be tossed out. He also is requesting that the Supreme Court order “depublication” of the opinion.

”We would like the court to review it,” Gallegos said Monday.

Palco Vice President Frank Bacik said in a news release that the “filings contain a series of slogans that lack reason, explanation or basis for either depublication of the appellate court's opinion or grant by the Supreme Court for a review of that opinion.”

”The new filings appear in the form of vague assertions that everybody is wrong except Paul Gallegos. The trial court is wrong, the court of appeal is wrong, Palco is wrong,” Bacik said.

The lawsuit, filed in February 2003, claimed Palco submitted faulty studies during the Headwaters Forest negotiations to get the California Department of Forestry to adopt a less restrictive long-term logging plan. Gallegos' second amended complaint was thrown out of Humboldt County Superior Court by visiting Judge Richard Freeborn, a ruling upheld by the appeals court.

The logging plan was part of the agreement to sell the 7,400-acre Headwaters Forest and other groves for $480 million. Gallegos argued that the company secured it by submitting false data on landslides in one watershed and not submitting a correction until the last minute.

The appeals court judges determined that Palco's lobbying efforts with the state were the real force behind CDF's decision to drop the stricter logging plan and adopt a less restrictive one. They found the California Environmental Quality Act proceedings during the Headwaters discussions were the appropriate venue to consider if any evidence presented was false.

Those lobbying efforts are privileged under state unfair competition laws, the ruling reads. The court also determined that Palco is protected by the Noerr-Pennington Doctrine that shields anyone petitioning the government or government agencies against civil liability, unless they are engaged in a “sham.”

Palco's efforts didn't meet the definition of a sham, the judges wrote in the ruling.

The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 03/04/2008 01:21:16 AM PST