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Published: 5/12/2008

Seneca County commissioners agree to settle courthouse lawsuit

BLADE STAFF

TIFFIN Six Seneca County residents who sued county commissioners last year in an attempt to halt demolition of the 1884 courthouse have agreed to drop their lawsuit.

Commissioners in turn have agreed not to try to recoup the legal fees the county incurred defending the suit. The board voted 3-0 Monday to the terms of the settlement, which plaintiff Jackie Fletcher said was a sad end to a fight over making public decisions at public meetings.

"I just want to say how saddened we are that there was no remedy in the law even though the judges told us the remedy is the election, which of course is going to be in November, which will be too late," she said. "Both the appeals judge and the local judge said that s the remedy, but how can you have that remedy if there s no injunction to stop the demolition?"

Both visiting Judge Charles Wittenberg and Ohio s 3rd District Court of Appeals declined to issue injunctions stopping demolition of the historic courthouse from going forward. Judge Wittenberg dismissed some of the plaintiffs claims, while the final claim that the commissioners violated the state s open-meetings law in August, 2006 when it decided to raze the courthouse was set to go to trial Thursday in Seneca County Common Pleas Court.

Commissioner Ben Nutter said that by signing the settlement agreement, the board admitted no wrongdoing and saved an estimated $25,000 in additional legal fees.

"We wanted vindication, which is why we wanted to go to trial, but it wouldn t have been a good use of taxpayer money to get vindication and spend another $25,000," Mr. Nutter said.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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