In denying the city of Anaheim an injunction that would have blocked the Angels from using "Los Angeles" in their name, the 4th District Court of Appeal was unanimous. Yet Justice David G. Sills offered a dissenting opinion that has city representatives optimistic about Anaheim's chances to win at trial.
The review was narrowly limited to determine abusive discretion by the court that denied the injunction, according to appellate court documents. The justices denied the writ of petition.
"It's true, we lost again, and I won't take anything away from my worthy opponent, who I respect," Anaheim co-counsel Andy Guilford said Tuesday. " ... Applying the abusive discretion standard takes sting off of what is a defeat. It gives us a fair shot at trial. The bottom line is the two judges weren't saying on merits we won't win at trial. On merits, we will win."
The dispute involving the city and the Angels over the name change is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 7, barring a settlement or a successful appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Though Sills concurred with Justices Richard M. Aronson and Kathleen E. O'Leary, he also offered a strong dissent. Sills wrote that the Angels' contract with the city "does not permit the oxymoronic inclusion of the name of another city in the team name." In the end, Sills said that he concurred with the result because to grant an injunction "at this late date is untenable."
Among other points in his dissent, Sills referenced the Jack Benny radio show, which he said often used a railroad call "which spoofed the outlining boonie towns of 'Anaheim, Azusa and Cuc ... a ... monga.'
"Well, decades later, the City of Anaheim paid big bucks to be identified as a big league venue, an identification that would elevate the image of the city to something considerably more important than some outlying burg to L.A.," Sills wrote.
Anaheim officials welcomed such words.
"Justice Sills offered encouraging language regarding the aspects of our case," said John Nicoletti, spokesman for the city of Anaheim. "The language in there is quite positive toward the city and its stance on what we feel is the contract."
Sills noted that issues sought in the injunction were unable to be changed at this point -- tickets, billboards, advertising, etc. Still, Sills bluntly pointed out, "you cannot be in Los Angeles and Anaheim at the same time."
Sills wrote that the contract precludes "the use of another city's name preeminent in the team name to Anaheim," noting that while the team could be the Anaheim Angels of California, it could not be "San Diego Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or even the San Clemente Angels of Anaheim."
Said Angel spokesman Tim Mead: "We have a legal team that is certainly looking over the opinion, but the focus of the Angel organization, as it was at the outset of spring training and the regular season, is directed to our efforts on the field.
"That's why we have a legal team representing us. Beyond that, our focus is solely what we do as a team on the field and the fan experience we are committed to off the field and in this ballpark."
In Sacramento, the Senate Business and Professions Committee was scheduled to vote on a bill Monday that would require the Angels to include ticket and advertising disclaimers that warn fans that the team plays in Anaheim, not Los Angeles. That vote was put off, as Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim), author of the bill, said he wanted to wait for the appeal because "if the court ordered the removal of the city name it would have had an effect on the bill."
Umberg said the bill would be taken up either at the committee's next meeting or in January.