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Kentucky RV Park Dilemma May Be Settled

November 29, 2010 by · Comments Off on Kentucky RV Park Dilemma May Be Settled 

A special-called city commission meeting Tuesday (Nov. 30) could put an end to a two-year battle between the owners of Lakeview RV Park LLC and the city of Richmond, Ky.

The meeting’s agenda has only one item of business — Order 10-146: “An Order of the Board of Commissioners for the City of Richmond, Kentucky, Entering into a Settlement Agreement Concerning Pending Litigation and Authorizing the Mayor to Execute a Written Agreement on Behalf of the City,” the Richmond Register reported

The commission will meet at 2 p.m. and the meeting will take place in the conference room on the first floor of city hall.

If the commission adopts the order agreeing on a settlement, the issue will be laid to rest. If the order is voted down, it will mean the lawsuit will be settled through the Madison Circuit Court system, according to Richmond Mayor Connie Lawson.

“We thought it would be better to make the decision now,” Lawson said. “It didn’t seem right to leave it for the next administration.”

The commission entered into a lease with Lakeview RV Park LLC on Feb. 26, 2008, during a commission meeting.

The lease would have allowed Camp Catalpa, a 15-acre tract of land owned by the city located off Catalpa Loop Road on the east bank of Lake Reba in Richmond, to be turned into an recreational vehicle park for public use.

However, the commission rescinded the decision on March 25 after strong community opposition was voiced.

In June, city commissioners Bill Strong, Robert Blythe, Mike Brewer and former commissioner Kay Cosby Jones were dismissed as defendants, both individually and in their official capacities, in the case.

According to a June 7 ruling by Madison Circuit Court Judge Jean C. Logue, the remaining issue is whether the city illegally breached the contract with Lakeview RV Park LLC.

The lawsuit’s settlement has been the topic of rumors for the past several months, some coming from a popular public forum website and some leaking out of Richmond City Hall.

Several settlement amounts have been rumored to be from $800,000 to $1 million.

The Richmond City Commission has met in executive session several times in recent months to work on settling the matter.

“We’ve put in at least 20 hours (in executive session),” Lawson said.

Avenues to obtain the money needed for the lawsuit’s settlement have not publicly been discussed by commissioners.

Settlement May Be Near in Kentucky Land Suit

November 1, 2010 by · Comments Off on Settlement May Be Near in Kentucky Land Suit 

Rumors are circulating that the lawsuit between the city of Richmond, Ky., and Lakeview RV Park LLC has been settled behind closed doors, the Richmond Register reported.

Others have added to that rumor, saying the commission did not want to make a public vote until after Tuesday’s election.

“The things that happen in executive session should stay in executive session, but they’re not,” said Richmond City Commissioner Mike Brewer. “And what’s being said is not accurate.”

The commission remains in the litigation process that is a result of a lawsuit stemming from an alleged breach of contract.

The Richmond City Commission entered into a lease with Lakeview RV Park LLC on Feb. 26, 2008, during a commission meeting.

The lease would have allowed Camp Catalpa, a 15-acre tract of land owned by the city located off Catalpa Loop Road on the east bank of Lake Reba in Richmond, to be turned into a recreational vehicle park for public use.

However, the commission rescinded the decision on March 25 after strong community opposition was voiced to the area being used as an RV park.

In June, city commissioners Bill Strong, Robert Blythe, Mike Brewer and former commissioner Kay Cosby Jones were dismissed as defendants, both individually and in their official capacities, in the case.

According to a June 7 ruling by Madison Circuit Court Judge Jean C. Logue, the remaining issue is whether the city illegally breached the contract with Lakeview RV Park LLC.

“We’ve had at least five different proposals to work this out,” Brewer said. “They’re all still on the table. I think we have a chance to settle this.”

As for the figures mentioned in the rumor — “We have discussed that proposal, but we have not made a decision,” Brewer said. “We’re trying to put it together.”

Another rumor is that the commission intentionally planned to wait until after next Tuesday’s election to make a decision.

“I don’t care if we settle before or after (the election), but I want it to be right for the city of Richmond. We will at some point in time meet with the Grants again and try to move forward.”

Commissioner Bill Strong said he did not agree with how the lawsuit was being handled.

“From the very beginning, I told them I would not be for settling out of court,” Strong said. “I felt like our chances would be a lot better letting a judge decide. It’s a known fact that I was in opposition of going this route. I’m for going to court and taking our chances.”

Interim City Manager Jimmy Howard and commissioner Rita Smart did not wish to comment on the issue.

Richmond Mayor Connie Lawson and Commissioner Robert Blythe could not be reached for comment.

Talks Could Lead to Kentucky RV Park Settlement

September 10, 2010 by · Comments Off on Talks Could Lead to Kentucky RV Park Settlement 

Contrary to rumors on a popular Internet forum, Lakeview RV Park LLC has yet to reach a settlement with the city of Richmond, Ky., regarding a breach of contract, the Richmond Register reported.

Several settlement amounts have been rumored to be from $800,000 to $1 million.

“Settlement discussions have been taking place,” said Richmond City Attorney Garrett Fowles. “No settlement can be done and finalized until the commissioners meet.”

The commission has met in executive session several times in recent months to work on settling the matter, he said.

“There are some offers that are seriously being considered by both sides,” Fowles said.

The Richmond City Commission entered into a lease with Lakeview RV Park LLC on Feb. 26, 2008, during a commission meeting.

The lease would have allowed Camp Catalpa, a 15-acre tract of land owned by the city located off Catalpa Loop Road on the east bank of Lake Reba in Richmond, to be turned into an recreational vehicle park for public use.

However, the commission rescinded the decision on March 25 after strong community opposition was voice to the area being used as an RV park.

In June, city commissioners Bill Strong, Robert Blythe, Mike Brewer and former commissioner Kay Cosby Jones were dismissed as defendants, both individually and in their official capacities, in the case.

According to a June 7 ruling by Madison Circuit Court Judge Jean C. Logue, the remaining issue is whether the city illegally breached the contract with Lakeview RV Park LLC.

The civil suit originally was filed Oct. 28, 2008, by Lakeview RV Park LLC against the city, city commissioners Brewer, Strong and Blythe, former city commissioner Kay Cosby Jones and former city manager David Evans, seeking damages for the city’s decision to back out of the lease.

The city filed a 22-page motion Nov. 17, 2009, claiming the suit should be dismissed because the commissioners are immune from being sued for official decisions. Logue agreed, ruling that the governmental body acted as the city itself when the commissioners voted on the lease.

“The vote was within their scope of authority,” Logue’s ruling states.

Hearing Held for Kentucky Campground Suit

March 5, 2010 by · Comments Off on Hearing Held for Kentucky Campground Suit 

Attorneys representing the owner of Lakeview RV Park LLC in a $12 million lawsuit have filed claims stating that both the owner’s state and federal constitutional rights were violated by the actions of the city of Richmond, Ky., rescinding a contract between Lakeview and the city, according to the Richmond Register.

The civil suit, originally filed Oct. 28, 2008, by Lakeview RV Park LLC against the city, city commissioners Mike Brewer, Bill Strong and Robert Blythe, former city commissioner Kay Cosby Jones and former city manager David Evans, seeks damages for the city’s decision to back out of a lease for the Camp Catalpa property.

The city filed a 22-page motion Nov. 17, 2009, claiming the suit should be dismissed because the commissioners are immune from being sued for official decisions.

Charles D. Cole, the attorney representing the city in the case, filed a motion earlier this year seeking to have Madison Circuit Judge Jean C. Logue limit the suit to only concern a breach of contract between Lakeview RV Park LLC and the city, and to have damages in the case limited only to the amounts set forth in the lease.

A hearing Wednesday (March 3) in Madison Circuit Court focused on two counts listed in the complaint stating that the city’s act of rescinding the contract was in “Violation of procedural due process guaranteed by the Kentucky and United States constitutions,” and “Tortious interference with contractual relations.”

The Richmond City Commission did not have the legal authority to rescind the contract, according to Melissa Bork of Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald, the law firm representing Lakeview RV Park LLC.

“They asked in advance of the meeting if they had the authority (to rescind the contract), and the city attorney told them, ‘No,’” Bork said. “It’s the facts of this case that do make it a federal case.”

It is rare that a public official knowingly exceeds their authority, she said.

“They can’t act on behalf of the city when they’re breaking the law,” Bork said.

By doing this, the owners of Lakeview RV Park LLC’s due process rights were violated, she said.

“This is more about holding government officials accountable,” she said.

Logue said she would take both sides’ arguments into consideration before issuing a final ruling in the case regarding the violation of federal and state constitutional rights.

The ruling should come in a “reasonably short time,” she said.

Before the hearing began, Logue disclosed that a sister of Allen D. Grant Jr., who is the principal owner of Lakeview RV Park LLC, is married to one of her distant cousins. She also disclosed that she served as Richmond’s city attorney 11 years ago.

Logue made this information part of the court record in case it was considered to be a conflict of interest to either party’s counsel.

She said she did not feel that these were reasons to recuse herself from the case, and neither party’s legal counsel objected Wednesday to her continuing to be the judge in the case.

The city granted a lease to Lakeview for the Camp Catalpa property in February 2008, but commissioners voted March 25, 2008, to rescind the lease in the face of vocal public opposition.

“When their decision was made at this second meeting when there was community opposition, certainly that shows that they had reason to do that,” Cole said during Wednesday’s court proceedings.

The lease would have given Lakeview RV Park the authority to convert Camp Catalpa into a campground for recreational vehicles for 40 years.

Commissioners Brewer, Jones, Strong and Blythe voted to rescind the lease, while Mayor Connie Lawson, who is not named in the suit, abstained.

Kentucky City Sued for $12M After It Foils RV Park Plan

November 3, 2009 by · Comments Off on Kentucky City Sued for $12M After It Foils RV Park Plan 

 

Visitors play disc golf at Camp Catalpa in Richmond, Ky.

Visitors play disc golf at Camp Catalpa in Richmond, Ky.

A lawsuit filed by Lakeview RV Park LLC against the city of Richmond, Ky., seeks a minimum of $12 million in damages for the city’s attempt to cancel a contract leasing Camp Catalpa to the company for use as an RV park.

The suit, filed Oct. 29 in Madison Circuit Court, names the city as a defendant along with city commissioners Robert Blythe, Bill Strong and Mike Brewer, former city commissioner Kay Cosby Jones and former city manager David Evans, according to the Richmond Register.

Each of the commissioners, including Jones, is being sued both individually and in their official capacities as elected officials.

According to a copy of the complaint, Lakeview RV Park alleges that after the Richmond City Commission voted Feb. 26, 2008, to allow Mayor Connie Lawson to enter into a 40-year lease between Lakeview and the city, Blythe, Brewer, Jones and Strong met in violation of the Kentucky Open Meetings Act to decide to overturn the lease.

At a March 25, 2008, meeting, Strong made a motion to rescind the lease, despite the issue not being listed on the meeting’s agenda, the suit states.

Jones seconded the motion, the suit states, despite an admission that nothing in the lease empowered the city to revoke the lease without just cause.

The four commissioners voted to rescind the lease, while Lawson abstained.

According to the suit, the commission’s decision to rescind the lease deprived Lakeview of the property without due process as well as “the profits and benefits to which it was entitled under the lease.”

The suit also alleges Lakeview has sustained damages including loss of investment and the cost of attorney fees.

All the defendants are accused of violating the due process guarantees of the state and federal constitutions in the suit by taking actions described as “willful, malicious and taken with the specific intent” or “with reckless disregard” for due process, and the suit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages as well as legal fees and court costs.

The city is accused of breach of contract for rescinding the lease after it was signed, and Lakeview seeks a judgment awarding the company a return of its investment, lost profits over the full 40 years of the lease, attorney fees, court costs and interest.

The commissioners are accused of interference with contractual relations for voting to rescind the lease without just cause, and the suit seeks monetary damages “including but not limited to direct economic and consequential damages” as well as punitive damages for their actions.

The suit asks for a jury trial on the issues in the case.

Attempts to reach Richmond City Attorney Garrett Fowles on Monday for comment went unreturned.

Federal Judge Dismisses Kentucky RV Park Suit

October 2, 2009 by · Comments Off on Federal Judge Dismisses Kentucky RV Park Suit 

A federal judge has dismissed a suit by Lakeview RV Park LLC that sought to enforce its contract to lease the city of Richmond, Ky.’s Camp Catalpa Park.

Senior Judge Joseph M. Hood granted the city’s motion to dismiss, citing a clause in the contract that calls for “Any action to interpret or enforce” the lease to be filed “exclusively” in state courts of Madison County, according to the Richmond Register.

While the case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it may not be retried in federal court, Hood’s ruling states the action may be taken to state court.

The city commission voted Feb. 26, 2008, to lease Camp Catalpa to Lakeview RV Park LLC, whose principal owner is Allen D. Grant Jr.

The commissioners voted March 25, 2008, to void the lease after opponents organized and crowded city hall at subsequent meetings to protest the decision.

Lease opponents said the commission voted without reasonable public notice or consultation. They also claimed the action was veiled by opaque wording on the commission’s Feb. 26 agenda that read: “An Order of the City of Richmond Entering into a Net Ground Lease.”

After the commission reversed its decision, Richmond attorney Michael Eaves, who had drafted the lease contract, said it contained no right of rescission on the city’s part.

Lakeview RV Park, represented in federal court by Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald of Louisville, had argued that by rescinding the lease, the city also had voided the clause that limited legal action only to state courts in Madison County.

If that argument was valid, the judge wrote, the vote to rescind also would have voided the entire contract, leaving the plaintiff no grounds on which to sue.

Hood also cited a precedent he said prevents courts from overriding a contract clause limiting venues for legal action unless it is “unreasonable or unjust.”

Because both parties to the suit and the property in question all reside in Madison County, limiting legal action to state courts here is reasonable, he wrote.

Because the contract was agreed to “after months of discussion between the parties” and the limiting clause is in the same typeface as the rest of the contract, the judge stated, the plaintiff cannot claim it to be fraudulent.

The city was represented in federal court by Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney of Lexington.

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