The owner of Del Amo Fashion Center will reimburse the city of Torrance for legal fees incurred defending a lawsuit filed by Redondo Beach in an effort to stop Nordstrom from leaving the South Bay Galleria for the Torrance mall.

A new Nordstrom store is the focal point of a redevelopment of the north end of the Hawthorne Boulevard mall.

Redondo Beach filed a lawsuit late last year accusing Torrance of failing to perform an environmental analysis it contends state law requires for a project of that magnitude.

A fee agreement approved at Tuesday's City Council meeting requires mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. to reimburse the city for the cost of an outside law firm hired to defend the lawsuit.

"Simon Property Group Inc., and Del Amo Fashion Center are the real parties in interest in these proceedings, since their ability to construct their planned improvements to Del Amo Fashion Center is dependent upon successful defense of the pending lawsuit," City Attorney John Fellows III wrote in a report to the council.

"Given the current financial crisis facing California government entities, it is appropriate for the real party in interest to bear the cost of the city's defense."

Torrance contends Redondo Beach broke the state open-meetings law in filing the suit and is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed because of the procedural gaffe.

A Los Angeles Superior Court hearing is set for April 4.

- Nick Green