Rib lawsuit update

Latest developments in the RIB lawsuit:

At the end of last week the court denied without prejudice Wright-Pierce’s request for leave to file a motion to extend the dates for discovery and trial.  Long story short, they asked for leave to file instead of just filing the motion.  They rebounded with the correct procedure to file the motion and there it sits as of Friday.  Basically it extends the dates for the completion of discovery and asks to reschedule the trial to April 7.  Wolfeboro says they can do April 7.

Looking at the budget requests for 2014, it looks like Public Works is asking for another $500,000 next year to continue the lawsuit.  According to the budget report, they spent #132,804 in 2012, and $233,985 to date in 2013.  If they get the depositioning cranked up in November and December as required by the new proposed schedule, I expect they will burn through most of this year’s $500,000 budget.  So add another half million next year for trial and we will probably spend more than a million on this lawsuit.

In February the Town Manager stated to me:

The proposed 2013 operating budget contains a line item in the sewer fund of $500,000 in legal costs to see this litigation through to its conclusion.

Hope they know what they’re doing.  In their latest filing, WP says Wolfeboro will not agree to arbitration [11/6/2013 – correction, the filing referenced mediation, not arbitration].  Heaven forbid a neutral third party listens to the hyped up claims and tells the actual clients that they should settle.  There are a lot of fees to be collected in conducting depositions, preparing and conducting a trial.  Call me a cynic but is it possible that the fees that will be collected by the lawyers could exceed the cost of a reasonable fix to our waste water problems?

I’ll probably be voting no on the budget again this year because of this huge line item.

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3 Responses to Rib lawsuit update

  1. Walter Spellman says:

    Bob,
    I couldn’t agree more with your position to take this thing to arbitration. With $367K into this action so far and a potential for another half million in 2014 just so someone can win the “blame game” I have to believe there is enough solid data/information/findings through all the discovery that an arbitrator of merit could arrive at a just and prudent decision so the task of bringing the issue to a final conclusion can be determined.

    As a water/sewer rate payer I am also concerned that even after the issue is decided that we will be “on the hook” for years to come to make up some of the monies expended to come to some workable solution.

    Thanks for birddogging this. It’s not small change..

    Walter

  2. Bob Tougher says:

    Bob,
    Thank you for your updates on this case, and I have some concerns about not placing money in the budget next year to continue it. Dave Ford has mentioned to the Budget Committee on a couple of occasions that the RIB site may not be functional after 5 years time. I believe our current permit allows for 340,000 gallons per day to be sent up to the RIB site, however we are only sending up 200,000 gallons per day to be on the safe side to avoid any further breakouts. We don’t have a good future at this site if we can only send 200,000 gallons a day up there, and the spray fields are not a long term solution. My concern is the direction we need to take in 5 years and how much it will cost us. The worst case scenario could be another multi-million dollar wastewater disposal system, the proceeds of which would have to be bonded, absent any proceeds from this case. Whether we get this done through negotiation, arbitration or a trial settlement, I believe we need to stay with this lawsuit.
    I have attached the state website that shows the sewer rates for every district throughout the state: http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wweb/documents/survey.pdf

    Thank you!

  3. wolfeblog says:

    My concern is that we may not have a strong enough case to make this a worthwhile gamble. We have an attorney who has a vested interest in telling us that we have a great case that we should take to trial. He won’t lose a single night’s sleep if we fail to get a judgement, but you can bet all his fee checks will be cashed.

    That we refuse to talk to an arbitrator is a red flag for me. Maybe they are holding out for binding arbitration, but my understanding was that we would do a round of non-binding. The advantage is that the Town, you and me, get to hear it from a non-biased professional whether it’s worth spending another half or full million to pursue a verdict. After more than a year of legal maneuvering, I think it’s time for a reality check.

    I was told that WP had offered to do whatever engineering was necessary to fix the RIB, but the Selectmen were unwilling to ask the voters for the money to build any fix. Now they have no trouble sticking half a million, unbonded, into the budget to cover a lawsuit.

    When this is over, I’m going to get those non-public sessions unlocked and see if this was driven by reason or emotion.

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