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Developer wants new trial in suit against Afton

Afton's legal fees associated with the GJ&M lawsuit are starting to pile up, but this may not be the end of the issue.

One of developer Gordy Jarvis' attorneys, Daniel J. Cragg said that GJ&M is currently seeking a new trial based on the judge's ruling regarding the damages and jury instruction.

During the jury trial, which concluded Dec. 8 at the Washington County Courthouse, Judge Mary Hannon ruled that GJ&M did not present enough sufficient evidence to show that the city was liable for the actions of its employees. Therefore Hannon dismissed all of Jarvis' $6 million in damage claims. The jury ruled in favor of the city that the application was not complete.

"The city did everything right and they were still faced with the lawsuit," said Stephanie Weiss from the League of Minnesota Cities.

To date, the League of Minnesota Cities has spent $825,325 on the lawsuit with GJ&M, and that does not include any fees that will be incurred if a retrial is granted or the case is appealed.

The fees stemmed from electronic file discovery requested by GJ&M, witnesses, attorney fees and court filings.

Of that amount, the city is responsible for paying $264,130 to the LMCIT.

"I'm not surprised by that number," Afton Mayor Pat Snyder said.

That number could potentially decreases however since the LMCIT is currently seeking $97,168 recovery from GJ&M.

However much recovery the LMCIT is granted, 40 percent of that will be deducted from the city's cost.

Currently, the city has $178,338 budgeted in their 2010 audit and legal reserve fund. Snyder said the city will have to discuss what to do if they should have to pay the full $264,130.

"That's something the council would have to consider since we'll have to come up with it from somewhere," she said. "But I know the league would be willing to work with us."

For more in-depth coverage of this story see the Wednesday, Jan. 20 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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