Pharos-Tribune

Local News

April 11, 2013

Judge dismisses suit against mayor, council

A lawsuit a Logansport citizen filed against the city last month claiming an abuse of power regarding Logansport Municipal Utilities’ power plant project has been dismissed.

The suit, filed by Julie Kitchell, claimed the city engaged in the process of developing a public-private agreement with Pyrolyzer LLC to develop a new power plant before adopting an ordinance authorizing it to do so. Lawyers representing Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin and City Council responded to the suit by citing a provision in Indiana Code allowing for the ratification of previous actions.

Cass County Superior Court II Judge Rick Maughmer, who ruled on the case, mentioned this provision in his court order as one of the reasons for its dismissal. He also stated Kitchell’s suit failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and fails to allege she sustained any kind of injury as a result of the conduct of Franklin or city council.

“I’m not at all surprised by the ruling,” Franklin said. “We have felt all along that we’ve gone the extra mile in making sure we’ve done everything properly.”

Franklin went on to say he viewed Kitchell’s claims as “obstructionist.”

“The plaintiff and her attorney are just reaching for straws,” he said. “They’re looking for anything to slow down the process we’re taking. It’s ridiculous. It’s over. I hope they realize it’s over as well.”

Jim Brugh, Kitchell’s attorney, filed a response to the city’s motion to dismiss last week. In it, he maintains the city engaged in the public-private agreement process before adopting the ordinance authorizing it to do so.

“It is a fact that the city failed to perform the condition precedent,” Brugh writes. “A city has to decide to engage in the public-private agreement process. First, the city must vote to accept/adopt the State public-private law.”

His statement goes on to dismiss claims by the city that Indiana Code allows it to ratify prior actions, writing that he has yet to find an interpretation of this in the state’s case law.

“A review of ‘ratification’ by municipal corporations in other jurisdictions shows that the concept applies to contracts, not ordinances or resolutions of empowerment,” Brugh writes. “...There is no legal precedent for the city’s contention that a ratification resolution today creates a power in the past.”

After reviewing Maughmer’s ruling, Brugh said, “I am conferring with my client to determine how next to proceed.”

Responding to the ruling via email, Kitchell wrote she was “not shocked” by Maughmer’s decision and that she and Brugh are contemplating an appeal.

“The real contemplation that has been going on even before this suit was filed is by the Logansport and Cass County residents and Logansport Municipal Utilities ratepayers who question the wisdom in a process that has overlooked the city’s own consultants in favor of an unproven, untested and risky venture that could hamstring the city, county and LMU for many years,” Kitchell stated.

Kitchell went on to reiterate requests she has made in the past at public meetings — that the city explore a renegotiation of its contract with Duke Energy to explore options with wholesale power providers.

“The mayor’s comment at a recent city council meeting that he doesn’t expect Duke to approach the city to renegotiate demonstrates that he neither cares about utility rates that will be escalating the next four years or that he understands the issue that has been raised,” Kitchell stated. “It may only signal that he is more concerned with working on a public/private partnership once he leaves office, which would explain his motivations.”

Joe Buck, president of city council, said he was “greatly relieved” to hear of the ruling.

“I’m just glad it’s over and we can move on with progress for Logansport,” he said.

John Molitor, an Indianapolis-based attorney who represented city council in the lawsuit, said he felt the ruling was not only favorable for the mayor and council, but for Logansport’s citizens as well.

“This is a good thing for the community,” he said. “It cuts off additional legal costs and allows the city to save costs it would have incurred if this went on longer.”

Mark Crandley, an attorney with Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg LLP representing Franklin in the suit, agreed with Molitor about the promptness of the ruling.

“We thought the law in this area was well established and we feel confident the judge applied it correctly and are pleased it’s over as quickly as it is, with the priority being there’s a project at issue here,” he said. “Hopefully this ends matters as far as we’re concerned.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • NWS-PT042414 Princess Singing-MAK Fairy tale remix: Lewis Cass presents "Once Upon a Mattress" WALTON -- Barbra Burch played Queen Aggravain in Lewis Cass High School's 1985 production of "Once Upon a Mattress." Twenty-nine years later, she is directing the musical at the school. "It's kind of surreal," she said. "There are some things that ta

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Indiana Packers opening Frankfort plant FRANKFORT -- Delphi-based Indiana Packers bought a former Birchwood Foods meat plant in Frankfort and plans to reopen it this summer. Indiana Packers, which employs 2,000 full time at its Delphi plant, is investing $2.28 million to purchase, renovate

    April 24, 2014

  • Minding the nutrition gap Almost one in five children in Cass County who sometimes don't have access to enough food for a healthy life aren't eligible for federal assistance programs designed to address that lack, a new study indicates. Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap proj

    April 24, 2014

  • Police blotter: April 23, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Mall mortgage up for auction The mortgage note for the Logansport Mall is scheduled to be sold at auction early next month. Foreclosure procedures for the mall began when lawyers for Algonquin State Bank, N.A., out of Algonquin, Ill., filed a complaint against the mall's owner -

    April 23, 2014

  • NWS-PT042314 Earth Day4.jpg Being kind to their mother: Lewis Cass students plant trees on Earth Day WALTON -- Weeks of planning came together Tuesday as students planted 22 trees on the grounds of Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School in observance of Earth Day. Amy Densborn, a science teacher at Lewis Cass, wanted to plant the trees so that students in s

    April 23, 2014 5 Photos

  • NWS-PT042314 Bags.jpg Students collect 2,475 pounds of plastic bags The Cass County Solid Waste Management District now knows to be careful what you ask for. The district opted to again this year host its plastic shopping bag contest for area elementary schools in observance of Earth Day. Overall, the district recei

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inmate sues for religious services at Miami County prison BUNKER HILL – A Native American inmate is suing the Miami Correctional Facility for violating his constitutional religious freedom after the prison last year terminated Native American worship services. Daniel Littlepage says in a class action lawsui

    April 22, 2014

  • Police blotter: April 22, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 22, 2014

  • NWS-PT042214 Indiana Beach Viper.jpg Monticello amusement park brings new thrills MONTICELLO -- Indiana Beach's first major steel roller coaster -- the Galaxi -- is being retired after 42 years. Don Hurd operated the ride as a park employee 35 years ago. "At that time, it was one of the biggest coasters around," he said. "It's one

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
eEdition