A Superior Court judge Tuesday issued her second rejection of a request by the city of Costa Mesa to toss out all or part of a lawsuit that challenges the legality of its plan to outsource numerous city services.

The ruling by Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann paves the way for an April 9 trial.

The lawsuit was filed last May by the Costa Mesa City Employees Association in response to the city issuing layoff notices to nearly half of the city’s staff.

The suit alleges the city violated state law on outsourcing and breached its labor contract with employees. The city denies those claims.

“We are grateful for the court’s ruling and look forward to trial so we can continue to fight for the economic security of our members and their families in the face of this politically motivated outsourcing scheme,” Helen Nenadal, president of the city employees union, was quoted as saying in a news release.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the city downplayed the significance of the ruling.

“All today’s ruling did is confirm in the trial court’s mind that she could not decide this case absent a full trial on the merits,” said John Vogt Jr. of the Jones Day law firm.

He took issue with the ruling, pointing to a state attorney general’s opinion allowing outsourcing of jail services by general law cities and to a deposition by Nenadal that the city complied with part of its obligations under the labor contract.

“I do think the city has a strong case on the merits,” said Vogt.

The judge’s rulings to date have favored the union’s case.

Last summer, Schumann issued a preliminary injunction preventing the city from outsourcing services to the private sector.

And in November, the judge ruled against another city request to dismiss part of the suit.

“This is consistent with the judge’s previous rulings on the case,” City Attorney Tom Duarte said in a news release. “The city looks forward to its day in court.”

Costa Mesa city spokesman Bill Lobdell didn’t return a phone message seeking comment.


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