Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2008

More motions filed in rural water case

August 28, 2008

Motions for summary judgment have been made by both sides in the lawsuit between Douglas County Rural Water District No. 4 and the city of Eudora.

Summary judgment essentially allows a court to make a judgment without a full trial, thus saving time and money for everyone involved.

One or both parties of a lawsuit make motions for summary judgment to the judge regarding the merits of a lawsuit. Each side responds to the other side's motion and then the judge will decide how much of the case - if any - should go before a jury.

A timeline for Judge Julie A. Robinson's ruling is not known.

Both sides also have filed motions to exclude the testimony of certain expert witnesses.

Eudora had annexed into the city in recent years property south of Kansas Highway 10 along Douglas County Road 1061.

As a result, RWD No. 4 filed a lawsuit against Eudora last September in U.S. District Court of Kansas City, Kan., under a federal law - 7 U.S.C. section 1926(b) - that states as a result of borrowing money from Farmer's Home Administration, the district is protected from a municipality or private entity that would curtail or limit the district's water territory or customers.

Mediation during the spring failed to bring a resolution to the case, likely because the two sides serve to different sets of customers.

Eudora serves customers located within the city boundaries of Eudora, while RWD No. 4 serves those in rural areas.

"You have a certain set of fixed costs and you start spreading those costs to fewer and fewer customers, it's going to drive water rates up for the remaining customers," said Scott Schultz, RWD No. 4 administrator. "We are focused on the best interest of the customer. It's just a different group of people because our constituency is in the rural areas."

In May, Magistrate Judge David J. Waxse granted an amended complaint for damages to again be included in RWD No. 4's lawsuit against the city after it was thrown out in March.

The amended complaint states the city has annexed land that would be served by the district and also has not only communicated with, but threatened developer Doug Garber with de-annexation if he signed on for water service from RWD No. 4.

Garber, whose land sits in the area in question, testified in a deposition hearing Feb. 26 that City Administrator Cheryl Beatty made a veiled threat to him during a phone conversation.

Beatty denies any threat was made. She said she and Garber were discussing different options for him to move forward with construction and Beatty told Garber one of those options was

de-annexation.

However, she said it was not a threat but rather one of the many ways that would allow him to start developing the land.

Eudora had appealed the reinstatement of damages and asked Judge Robinson to overrule the opinion issued by Magistrate Waxse. Robinson overruled the objection.

Because of the change to the case, the trial date was moved back 60 days from Nov. 13 to Jan. 13, 2009.

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