In July 2013, the Mountain Fire caused the evacuation of much of the Hill. The fire originated on property owned by Tarek M. Al-Shawaf in Mountain Center. It swept northeasterly along the east side of South Ridge and formed a crescent-shaped burn area that surrounded Idyllwild on three sides. Some homes and other structures were lost, and much national forest land was burned.

Lawsuits were filed in both state and federal courts against Al-Shawaf and his employees, James and Donna Nowlin. Last year, the state-court lawsuits in Riverside Court were settled, leaving the federal case that had been filed in Los Angeles, the lead plaintiff in that case being the United States of America.

Last Thursday, May 23, the parties filed a joint status report with the federal court regarding the resolution of that lawsuit. In that status report, the parties informed the court that the United States had prepared and circulated a proposed resolution agreement. The report detailed that attorneys for the parties currently are negotiating the terms of the final releases, and that they anticipate filing a stipulated dismissal document within two weeks.

Consequently, the parties requested that the court continue to stay the case pending final resolution, and that it set a further joint status report date of June 10, 2019, if the parties have not filed a request for dismissal by that time. The court granted setting the join status report date as requested.

Accordingly, it appears likely that the federal-case parties will achieve a formal settlement of that lawsuit within the next two weeks.

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