We're From The Gov't., - We're Here To Help You
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles - November 25, 2000
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by The Associated PressAs reported in the Seattle Times
Thursday, October 12, 2000
KENNEWICK - A city councilman who sued the city over a $19.50 water-heater permit has been ordered to pay nearly $20,000 in fines and legal fees by a judge who called his claims frivolous.
Kennewick City Councilman Tom Walker says he will appeal the ruling by Benton County Superior Court Judge Craig Matheson.
The three-term councilman said he plans to represent himself, as he has done in other unsuccessful lawsuits stemming from the water-heater permit flap.
The dispute involves a new water heater Walker had installed in his home in 1997. It was originally installed without a permit, which the city maintains is required under a plumbing-code ordinance.
Walker disagreed, saying permits are not required for replacement water heaters. Nevertheless, he later purchased a permit.
The test of wills escalated, however, when city inspectors came to Walker's house to examine the newly installed unit.
He refused to let them in, even when they returned with police and a search warrant. A judge later dismissed city charges of obstructing a public servant that had been filed against Walker and his wife, Ann.
In a ruling published yesterday, Matheson decreed Walker's claim that he and his wife suffered millions of dollars in emotional damages in the confrontation was "frivolous, unfounded, false, malicious and prosecuted without probable cause."
Walker has filed three lawsuits in all: one against the city inspector, another against the city for its attempted prosecution of him and his wife, and a third asking a judge for an interpretation of Kennewick's ordinance. That was too many cases, Matheson decided.
The judge ordered Walker to pay $14,180 in legal bills to a private attorney who represented the city, and an additional $1,000 each to five current and former members of the Kennewick Police Department named in his lawsuit. The total bill is $19,180.15.Copyright © 2000 The Seattle Times Company
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