Pharos-Tribune

Local News

March 19, 2013

Logansport responds to new lawsuit

Attorneys have filed motions for dismissal on behalf of Mayor Ted Franklin and the Logansport City Council regarding a lawsuit filed against the city last week stating the city did not properly authorize itself to seek the development of a new power plant.

Last November, Logansport Municipal Utilities issued a request for proposals from companies interested in entering into a public-private agreement to develop a plant powered by refuse derived fuel. In January, LMU endorsed a proposal submitted by Pyrolyzer, LLC, a renewable energy consulting firm based in Boca Raton, Fla. Logansport City Council has since voted to engage in negotiations with the company.

Last week, local attorney Jim Brugh filed a lawsuit against the city in Cass County Superior Court II on behalf of his client Julie Kitchell, a Logansport citizen. The lawsuit cites a part of Indiana Code that states a city must adopt a provision pertaining to public-private agreements before entering into one.

City council adopted the public-private agreement provision at its March 4 meeting. Brugh and Kitchell are saying it needed to be done before the request for proposal was submitted in November.

John Molitor, an Indianapolis-based attorney working as special counsel for the city, said Franklin has hired a litigation specialist, attorney Mark Crandley of Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg LLP, to handle the case. Crandley filed a motion to dismiss the case on behalf of the mayor Monday. Crandley’s motion includes a brief for the judge’s     consideration as to why Crandley believes the case should be immediately thrown out on the basis that it has no merit.

Molitor agreed.

“We’re hoping the plaintiff comes to her senses and decides that it’s not worth it to continue to litigate this and that the whole thing in the first place was brought in bad faith,” Molitor said. “There’s no requirement in law that the statute had to be adopted in advance of the [request for proposal] issuance or advance of the mayor getting the authority to move forward with negotiations.”

Franklin shared a similar sentiment.

“I question the very merits of her claims,” Franklin said. “I think she’s received some horrible legal advice that is unfounded and probably is more the desire of the attorney than of the plaintiff.”

Brugh disagrees with Crandley, Molitor and Franklin. In his lawsuit, he cites the part of the Indiana Code called the Home Rule Act, part of which states, “If there is a constitutional or statutory provision requiring a specific manner for exercising a power, a unit wanting to exercise the power must do so in that manner.” He applies this law to the public-private agreement provision, concluding that the city had to first adopt the provision before even issuing the request for the power plant.

Molitor referred to the resolution passed by city council March 4, which not only adopted the public-private agreement provision, but adopted a provision of Indiana Code that states the council can ratify all actions previously taken regarding the power plant.

Brugh disagrees with this as well, adding that the Home Rule Act holds more weight than this statute.

“It’s just a cleanup law,” Brugh said of the ratification provision. “The words in that law, in my opinion, do not trump the more detailed choice of words in the Home Rule Act. It’s a question of statuatory construction. Local governments don’t have power. Local governments are created by the state, so that’s why within municipal law, there has to be a specific statuatory creation of the power. There’s already a law that says the city can enter into contracts. Why is there a specific one for [public-private agreements]? It’s because they’re unusual. You have to enable yourself to have this power if you’re going to presume to exercise it.”

Molitor said not only is the ratification provision legitimate in this matter, but is being used in the city’s motion for dismissal to illustrate the frivolousness of Kitchell’s lawsuit.

“They filed the lawsuit knowing that the city had duly ratified all those prior actions, so even if their legal theories held any water, the ratification of the prior actions of the city would override them completely. They had to know that, which is why we’re suggesting that this litigation has been filed in bad faith.”

Should the judge also find the case frivolous, Crandley goes on to request in his brief that the court award the city its costs and attorneys’ fees. Molitor said Kitchell would then be obligated to provide this reimbursement.

As city council is listed alongside the mayor as a defendant in the lawsuit, Molitor filed an appearance on its behalf as well. He said the council will meet in executive session Thursday to discuss strategy.

“We have no reason to think the council will have a different approach than the mayor has,” Molitor said.

Franklin said he hopes to resolve the matter soon.

“We just want to make sure that we dispose of this as quickly as possible, because there’s a tremendous amount of money on the line, not only for the city but for the investors and they have a right to know if they’re going to be welcomed here or not.”

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-PT072314 Delphi Play2.jpg 'Under the sea': Delphi children ready for musical DELPHI — Young actors and actresses will tell the story of a young mermaid dreaming about being human in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” this weekend.The Stargazers Children’s Theatre, a program through Delphi’s public library, is presenting the mu

    July 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • NWS-PT072314 Matthew Shuey mugshot - CLG [Duplicate] Police: Peru man punched officer in the face PERU — A 51-year-old Peru man was arrested after flipping off a police officer and punching him in the nose.According to court documents released Tuesday, Peru Officer Matthew Feller was on patrol Friday when he observed Matt Shuey lean out his car w

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay couples' lawyers object to full-court hearing INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys on either side of a lawsuit over Indiana’s overthrown gay marriage ban are wrangling over how many federal judges should hear the state’s appeal, a technical issue that could make a big difference.Those representing gay

    July 23, 2014

  • Police Blotter: July 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.

    July 22, 2014

  • One dead, one seriously injured in crash on Division Road

    A Logansport man was killed and another was seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash Monday on Division Road.

    July 22, 2014

  • NWS-PT072214 Western Wildfires.jpg Local volunteer to help wildfire victims A Flora resident will be among the volunteers helping those affected by the wildfires in Washington State.Pat Rinehart was scheduled to fly out of Indianapolis International Airport Monday afternoon and join fellow American Red Cross volunteers at th

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-PT072214 Lauren Ray.jpg Logansport graduate makes a go at Hollywood “Instincta,” the latest film by a 2008 Logansport High School graduate, will be screened at the Gen Con Indy Film Festival in Indianapolis in August.It is an action, thriller cop drama short film, starring Logansport native Lauren Zehner Ray, Michael

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDU-PT072314 whitley lehr.jpg School's top honor goes to local grad Whitley Lehr chose Indiana University Kokomo because of its excellent School of Nursing. Receiving the campus’ most prestigious scholarships sealed the deal for each of her. The 18-year-old Delphi student called the Herbert Scholarship “a huge blessi

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-PT072214-Gwin3-BCM Landis Elementary teacher back from China experience Steve Gwin has hundreds of pictures already on his new laptop, just months after buying it. He spent the month of June in China teaching to kids at two schools and chronicled about each adventure.Gwin teaches first grade at Landis Elementary and got

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Four injured when motorcycles collide Four people were injured Sunday when a motorcycle rear-ended another motorcycle. The accident occurred at 4:06 p.m. Sunday on the ramp from U.S. 35 North at U.S. 24, according to Cass County Sheriff Deputy Brad Craven. Riding a 2012 Harley-Davidson,

    July 21, 2014

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
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
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

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
eEdition