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    Judge rules in favor of former Huntington Beach mayor in air show cancellation case
    • June 12, 2024

    An Orange County judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of former Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr in a lawsuit that accused of her wrongly canceling the 2021 air show.

    Operators of the Pacific Airshow sued Carr and the city for canceling the 2021 air show’s final day after an oil spill was discovered off the coast. The city agreed last year to settle with the Pacific Airshow and pay nearly $5 million, but Carr was still being sued. Attorneys for Carr and the Huntington Beach air show operator argued in court Monday over whether she should be liable for the cancellation of the 2021 air show.

    Judge Jonathan Fish in a ruling released Tuesday afternoon agreed with a demurrer filed by Carr, which objected to the air show’s legal arguments. Mark Austin, Carr’s attorney, said in a text message that Fish’s ruling brings the case one step closer to dismissal.

    The judge gave the Pacific Airshow a chance to amend its complaint following the ruling.

    Carr in statement said she was pleased with the ruling, calling the lawsuit baseless and vindictive.

    In an updated complaint filed last July, Pacific Airshow accused Carr of making a unilateral decision to cancel the event’s third day, allegedly because of personal animosity toward the operator. Carr has denied that claim and said she didn’t have that power.

    “All of those allegations are what they added to save their complaint,” said Austin, the attorney representing Carr, at a hearing on Monday.

    Suoo Lee, Pacific Airshow’s attorney, said Monday that there should have been a public hearing with notice to the operator to discuss canceling the air show.

    “We recognize had the proper protocols been followed … we would not be here today,” Lee said.

    Monday’s hearing did not focus on the facts behind the case. It concentrated on whether Pacific Airshow’s legal arguments were valid or not.

    “Carr is immune from these claims even if her alleged decision to cancel the remainder of the airshow was based on personal animus,” Fish wrote in the ruling.

    Carr said a combination of agencies and people, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the fire chief, the police chief and the city manager made the decision to cancel.

    “I will repeat over and over again that I did not cancel the air show,” Carr said in an interview. “I did not have the power to unilaterally cancel the airshow as stated.”

    Austin told the judge that Pacific Airshow’s arguments that Carr made the decision to cancel the air show alone, but also acted outside of her power as a member of the City Council, don’t hold up.

    “They just can’t have it both ways,” Austin said.

    Carr was a councilmember until 2022. She ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate, losing to Sen. Janet Nguyen. Carr, after the hearing, alleged the lawsuit was filed to hurt her ahead of her 2022 state senate race.

    “I was excluded from the multimillion-dollar settlement,” Carr said in a statement. “If they had truly believed that the settlement was proper, they would have included me, instead of inexplicably leaving the city legally and financially exposed.”

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    ​ Orange County Register