Hillview wants $15 million from former city attorney - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hillview wants $15 million from former city attorney

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HILLVIEW, Ky. (WDRB) -- The small city of Hillview is suing its former attorney for more than $15 million.

In a complaint filed in Bullitt Circuit Court Tuesday, the city alleges Mark Edison, who served as Hillview city attorney from Jan. 2003 to March 2015, failed to properly advise city leaders during a land dispute case in the early 2000s. That case led to a judgment against the city of $11.4 million.

In 2002, a deal to develop 40 acres of property into a softball complex fell through. At the time, the city council approved a “lease-purchase offer” for the land for Truck America Training. Truck America then claimed in court filings that Hillview failed to transfer the land and sued the city. Ultimately, Truck America won that case.

“That's what started the litigation,” said current Hillview City Attorney Tammy Baker. “Truck America versus the city of Hillview.”

Since that time, the $11.4 million has been accruing interest at a rate of 12 percent per year. Now, the city owes Truck America more than $15 million.

The lawsuit against Edison, who represented Hillview in the case, says Edison “advised the City it was not legally required to honor the purchase portion of the Lease-Purchase Agreement.”

“The city attorney at the time, Mr. Edison, gave the advice to the city that they could get out of contract,” Baker said. “He said it was not a valid, binding contract for the purchase of that property.”

It also says at no point did Edison “inform the City that damages were possible.”

The lawsuit goes on to say that Edison did not request the court review the interest amount in the judgment against Hillview. It also says “Edison never discussed settlement options with the City."

“The city council and mayor are laypeople and they have a city attorney for a reason,” Baker said.  “They relied on his advice and it was based upon his advice that they now have this judgment against them.”

Ultimately, in August of 2015 Hillview filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which can only apply to municipalities; the first city to do so since Detroit in 2013.

When contacted for comment Wednesday afternoon, Edison said he had not yet been served the lawsuit. 

"The city council thought long and hard about this," Baker said. "This is not something they just wanted to run out and do. They understand the ramifications for him (Edison) and no one has ill will toward him."

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