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Burbank Leader

Walmart appeal up in the air

Judge says he might not have jurisdiction over case involving injunction.

By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com

3:04 PM PST, November 28, 2012

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A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Wednesday said he may not have jurisdiction over an appeal of an injunction that has blocked construction of a Walmart adjacent to the Empire Center in Burbank.

“Once the notice of appeal has been filed, things like moving to modify or dissolve can no longer be heard [in this court]. Otherwise, that would interrupt the appeal,” Judge Robert O’Brien said in the downtown L.A. courtroom.

An appeal is generally heard in a court of appeals.

Walmart had been planning to renovate the former Great Indoors and open in mid- to late-2013. However, the injunction granted in August effectively halted all work until claims raised in a lawsuit filed by three Burbank residents earlier this year are settled.

The injunction also required the city to suspend its approval of building permits issued to Walmart pending a trial.

Shanna Ingalsbee, Katherine Olson and Yvette Ziraldo — who filed the lawsuit in an attempt to block Walmart — are represented by attorney Gideon Krakov, who also serves as legal counsel for United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 770.

Attorneys for Walmart filed the appeal last month.

During the hearing on Wednesday, Walmart attorney Rollin Chippey II said that the three cases he cited in his motion indicated the court did have jurisdiction.

However, O’Brien countered that the cases do not apply to this appeal because in one, the court had reserved the right to modify an injunction and the other two had no pending appeals.

In issuing the injunction, O’Brien found that Burbank failed to show that completion of street improvements wasn’t required under an ordinance before building permits were issued to Walmart.

Attorneys for Burbank argued that there is “substantial compliance” on the street improvements, but O’Brien said those claims must be determined at trial.

Ultimately, O’Brien on Wednesday warned that his ruling may force him to pass on hearing the appeal.

“Jurisdiction is jurisdiction. I can’t do anything if I don’t have jurisdiction,” he said.

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Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam.