Archive for Thursday, June 4, 2009

City to appeal jury’s decision in water case

June 4, 2009

The Eudora City Council decided at a special meeting Tuesday to appeal a jury decision handed down last week in U.S. District Court in Topeka.

Last Thursday, a jury found the city of Eudora had limited Douglas County Rural Water District No. 4’s ability to serve 113 acres annexed into the city in recent years. The jury also awarded $23,500 to the district to pay for engineering studies the water district presented as evidence. U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson will award costs, including attorney fees, in subsequent motions.

The area in dispute in the case was southeast of the Kansas Highway 10 and Douglas County Road 1061.

The city council’s decision to appeal the decision was made after an 80-minute executive decision.

Curt Tideman, the city’s attorney, said the city’s appeal would focus on the power of the water district to enter into a loan agreement with the federal government and whether or not the city prevented or limited the district’s ability to serve its territory.

Tideman said both issues were matters of law that were too complicated for a jury to decide and, instead, should have been decided by Judge Robinson.

The appeal likely will be heard by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Tideman estimated that the court likely would hear the case in about one year.

Robinson had noted that a Kansas rural water district couldn’t acquire a federal loan to protect its territory. The water district presented evidence at the trial indicating that the loan would help the district maintain its facilities and water system.

John Nitcher, general counsel for RWD No. 4, was somewhat surprised by the city’s decision and said it will further delay the district’s goals of getting on with everyday business.

“The district would like to go back to its real mission, which is to provide water service within its territory and maintain its infrastructure and, frankly, send the lawyers home,” Nitcher said.

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