In a further effort to deny the Lemmon Valley homeowners damages for flooding caused by the city, the city will appeal the recent ruling in favor of the three residents that suffered the worst flood intrusion. Approval to move ahead with the appeal was 4-3.
City Attorney, Karl Hall, opened with the argument that the district court made several errors that he thinks should be settled at the Nevada Supreme Court. He thinks this issue applies to other cases currently pending. He thought the “class certification” was in error and that the liability was not clearly established. He also thinks the damages were determined in error.
Councilmember Brekhus pointed out that this is the second appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court on this case and asked if any of Hall’s arguments had already been considered by the court. Hall indicated that the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on this case.
Councilmember Duerr asked what were the possible outcomes that the city might expect if the appeal is approved. Hall said he hoped that the Supreme Court would order a new trial. He would like some guidance from the Supreme Court in any case. Hall asserted that the additional plaintiff’s attorney’s fees would be about $50,000 additional if they lost. He neglected the added interest the city would be liable for. Duerr has some concern for the public perception of the city spending more money on this case.
Councilmember Jardon expressed concern that the appeal will result in higher plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and would like some idea of what that amount might be if the city appeals and loses. Hall had a vague answer for the costs. He said the city could file an appeal March 10 and that the case would probably take 6 months.
Mayor Schieve asked Hall if the city needs to appeal this case in order to get “clarity” on the law regarding such suits. Hall replied that an appeal is the intended way to get such “clarity”.
Brekhus asked if the city could negotiate with the judge on the amount of the plaintiff’s attorneys’ costs and fees. Hall said yes. Brehus suggested that this would be a better use of the legal team’s time than moving forward with another appeal.
Councilmember Reese thinks there are enough legal errors in the recent ruling that warrant the appeal. “We have an obligation to follow the advice of our lawyer (Hall).” He trusts the judgement of the legal team.
Duerr reminded the council that the plaintiffs have waited over 4 years now. People are living in trailers and have their horses boarded somewhere else. She thinks the increase in the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees will be much higher than Hall suggested. Duerr “I think we should just put this to bed. I’m concerned that this drags on for the city and the plaintiffs as well.”
Jardon referred to the drawn out case of the city against Scenic Nevada was very instructive even though it lasted 15 years. It might be a benefit to pursue this appeal for what would be learned. She also thinks the $1.5M plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees are unreasonable.
Brekhus didn’t think the Scenic Nevada case is applicable to this case. “Continuing to slog through this case will further alienate us from our constituency. I am very troubled by it. I just can’t go there. I don’t think another $50,000 is worth the roll of the dice.”
Schieve “There is a very large emotional toll that this has taken on those residents. I think we all ought to move forward. To me, this just doesn’t sit right. I won’t be supporting it (appeal).”
Reese claimed to take umbrage at the argument that he is callous toward the residents. He asserts that the city should defend itself against what he sees as “bad law”. The decision should not be made based on the emotional considerations: this is a case that will bear on future cases. The legal team is doing a “good job in defending the taxpayers and our general fund.”
Councilmember Weber “I just want to say that I do support our staff and our legal team moving forward to the Supreme Court. It’s just part of the process. This is the right thing to do.”
Schieve moved that the appeal not move forward. Duerr seconded. Brekhus voted “aye”. Reese, Delgado, Weber, and Reese voted “nay”. Then, Reese moved to approve the legal department’s proposal to appeal which carried 4-3.
The viewer is left with a few impressions. Reese takes umbrage easily. He wants to be seen as compassionate while arguing vociferously for fighting the homeowners. Weber made only a passing reference to the suffering endured by her constituents. Who does she represent? Delgado had nothing to say the entire meeting.
Meeting Video (topic starts at 30 minutes from the beginning)