(Yi-Ke Peng/WOUB)

City of Athens Seeking Dismissal of Sewer Line Lawsuit

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Having prevailed in part of a lawsuit against it, the city of Athens is asking a judge to dismiss the remainder of the case.

The Messenger previously reported that assigned Judge L. Alan Goldsberry had declined to issue a court order (a writ of mandamus) that would have allowed property owner Sean Jones to seek compensation because the city went onto his land without an easement to replace a damaged storm sewer.

Jones owns vacant land on the south side of Columbus Road and filed the lawsuit in Athens County Common Pleas Court. Goldsberry heard part of the case — the request for the writ of mandamus — last December before retiring. He has been assigned to continue with the case, and last month denied the writ of mandamus.

The writ, if it had been approved, would have required the city to start an appropriation proceeding against the strip of land where the sewer line is located on Jones’ property. If compensation of Jones could not have been agreed upon, then Jones could have taken the matter to a jury.

After Goldsberry’s ruling, other counts in the lawsuit remained, including claims that Jones’ constitutional rights had been violated by the city. However, City Law Director Lisa Eliason has filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the remaining counts. Eliason argues that based on findings Goldsberry made when deciding the mandamus issue, Jones cannot prevail on the other counts.

Athens attorney Rusty Rittenhouse, who represents Jones, said he will oppose the motion to dismiss. He said the remaining claims have a different standard of proof, and that additional evidence will be brought forth.