A federal lawsuit filed on the behalf of 10 citizens against the City of Guthrie over the City’s ‘shelter-in-place’ order was dismissed by a judge in April. Now, the City of Guthrie is left with attorney fees for over $20,000.
On April 22, the citizens slapped the City with the lawsuit, saying the City’s order infringed on their constitutional rights. In U.S. District Court, Judge Scott Palk dismissed the case on April 29 without a hearing. Related article: Judge dismisses lawsuit against City of Guthrie; council to decide on face masks
The judge determined the plaintiffs didn’t have an argument to sue, saying citizens were not arrested for violating the rules and the City didn’t threaten to prosecute them.
The suit seek both a temporary and permanent injunction against enforcement of the ordinance, which named the City of Guthrie, Mayor Steven Gentling, Police Chief Don Sweger, members of the city council and city attorneys William W. Wheeler and Sheri L. Mueller.
Through an Open Records Request by Guthrie News Page, documents were obtained on the final ruling by the Court. In addition, Guthrie News Page requested and received an invoice from the City’s law firm for their services.
As part of the settlement agreement, both parties agreed that the plaintiffs did not prevail in any way.
The plaintiffs attorneys, based out of Oklahoma City, and the 10 citizens agreed they will not file any further litigation relating to the City of Guthrie’s current or future COVID-19 ordinances.
Each plaintiff and their attorneys all signed legal and binding documents, including Angela F. Miller, Donna J. Wilson, Daniel L. Navejas, Heather E. Brown, Bobby J. Lockhart, Audra M. Lockhart, Tammie D. Hulsey, Jackie A. Whitley, Vicki L. Jones and James P. Nunamaker. Related article: Group of citizens file federal lawsuit against City of Guthrie
The Oklahoma City law firm of McAfee & Taft represented and prepared the City’s case in the lawsuit.
On May 7, the firm invoiced the City for $23,815.47 in attorney fees. Since the case did not reach a formal trial, the City is left to foot the bill.
The dollar amount will be funded by the City’s general fund.