Judge Sides with Tech Billionaires in California Forever Case Against Family Ranchers

California ForeverThe multi-billion-dollar project to build a new city on hundreds of acres in the Bay Area has faced several challenges, including a legal dispute between the project’s sponsors and several families who live long-term in the area where developers want to build.

Last May, California Forever’s parent company, Flannery Associates, sued some of those families, accusing them of a “price-fixing” conspiracy and seeking damages of half a billion dollars. The farmers accused California Forever of using “forceful methods” to destroy their land.

Now, it appears that a California judge has sided with the tech billionaire. Judge Troy Nunley, of Sacramento, denied the landowners’ efforts to have the California Forever lawsuits dismissed from the court, The Mercury News. report Monday. Nunley said that messages exchanged between landlords two years ago provided “direct evidence” of price fixing efforts.

The messages were shared in court, including text messages from one landowner to another telling him not to allow California Forever developers to “oppress the last of the landowners.” The owner of the same land also said that “the remaining land owners must agree on what we want to sell our land” so that California cannot “play owner against owner.”

Nunely cited other examples. One email exchange involving a property owner described “very aggressive behavior [by California Forever] it seems to indicate that we are in a very good place and it is best not to join them at this time. ” The same owner also said: “No one is saying we shouldn’t sell, the question is when and at what price. Most of the other big landowners in the area are also taking their time and not getting involved.”

Nunely’s refusal to drop the case does not mean that California Forever will win its case. Allegations that California Forever tried to persecute long-term residents in their country have sparked several argumentative town meetings how the local people yelled at Jan Sramek, the head of the project. Residents accused the project developers of being untrustworthy and trying to take advantage of the local community.

Gizmodo has reached out to California Forever for comment on the legal changes and will update this story if it responds.

If the latest court ruling is good news for the project’s developers, it’s unclear whether it will help them achieve their long-term goal of creating a new city out of nothing but hundreds of acres of Bay Area farmland. The CF project is currently trying to convince the citizens of Solano County support the implementation of the vote This would allow local residents to vote in November. The project has been accused of tricking local residents into signing documents to show their support for the project, but the planners dispute the allegations.

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