Taxpayers stuck with attorney fees in dismissed COVID lawsuit against City

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.

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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.

9 Comments on "Taxpayers stuck with attorney fees in dismissed COVID lawsuit against City"

  1. Dana Dunagan | May 14, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Reply

    Thank you, 10 idiot citizens.

  2. Plaintiffs of frivolous lawsuit ordered to pay attorney fees.

  3. Alston Ingram Jr | May 14, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Reply

    Why is it that since the case was “thrown out”, meaning it had no substance, that our City has to pay legal fees that those 10 people should pay. In essence, they lost.

  4. Britt Wayne Smith | May 14, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Reply

    The only reason it was dismissed is because the Chief of Police chose not to actually enforce the order. If anyone was actually arrested/cited/ and or fined, then the judge said that there would be standing and the case would have continued. and actually there were more than 10 on that list, the firm only named the first 10. We didn’t lose or the city. If there is a next time, maybe the city council and government will think before they decide to infringe on our rights.

  5. …corruption abounds here. Stop robbing the people who PAY YOUR SALARIES…

  6. Stop screening and censoring comments you corrupt tyrants

  7. Mr. Smith- No one is infringing on your precious rights. Last time I checked, walking around with a communicable disease infringes on the general public’s rights. Our Founding Fathers, as ingenious as they were, had no knowledge of the Germ Theory of disease, when they outlined our Constitution, and apparently most people don’t understand it either. It is just like a person with HIV knowingly spreading it to their [unknowing] sexual partners; we consider that a crime. Do we not? No one wants the government in their business, but if the government has one duty, it is to protect, much like our police force (to protect and serve). When citizens refuse to protect the rights of others by simply wearing a mask (yes, masks are to protect others; that’s how that works), then the government should step in (that’s how that works).

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