Candidates’ conflict a costly affair for Lemon Grove

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Courtesy Photo.

A 2-year=old lawsuit between two Lemon Grove candidates that may not be resolved until 2021 has so far cost the city of Lemon Grove nearly half a million dollars.

In May 2018 Christopher Williams, who is running for mayor, filed a lawsuit against city councilman David Arambula and the city of Lemon Grove.

Arambula is an incumbent and currently seeking reelection.

As of Sept. 18, the city of Lemon Grove paid $441,446.34 in related court costs. The  city’s insurance carrier will reimburse all costs over $100,000 and the city so far has received $317,475.85 from the insurance carrier.

In his complaint Williams alleges that on July 15, 2017, Arambula invited Williams to his home to discuss applications Williams submitted to open medical marijuana dispensaries

Williams agreed to the meeting, but through the course of the evening, Arambula began drinking, went skinny dipping in his pool and was recorded by an unnamed woman. Williams claimed that after he realized that Arambula was not prepared to discuss applications, he decided to leave. Williams claimed he went to the front of Arambula’s phone to schedule an Uber driver and while looking down at his phone, Arambula hit Williams in the head with a bottle and “bit, kicked, punched and choked him.”

The lawsuit was ready for court a year ago said Williams’ attorney Cory J. Briggs, but with delays and the COVID-19 pandemic, he expects the trial to be moved to summer 2021 after a preliminary hearing in December.

Briggs said Arambula had a prior temporary restraining order issued against him in favor of his former boss and that he would not be representing Williams if he did not think he had solid claims.

Arambula said that due to the city’s involvement in the lawsuit he could not talk about specifics in this case.

“I would love to talk about it and trust me you would have some great material because at the end of the day when this is all said and done, hopefully everyone will see the light. It will all turn out fine,” said Arambula.

Among the associated costs of defending Arambula are $91,829.69 to the law firms Horton, Oberrecht, Kirkpatrick & Martha APC and $281,553.92  to Tyson & Mendes LLP.