Council takes last stand on lawsuit

The City of Craig has decided to take one more chance to come out on top of the Estey-Simpson lawsuit.

After hearing the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of attorney Glen Stinson in the property dispute, the city asked the court for an extension before sending the case back to federal court. The case is being sent to federal Judge Richard Matsch to rule on the settlement and possibly demand the city pay Stinson damages in the case.

The city requested an extension so it may have time to file a petition asking the court of appeals to reconsider its ruling.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Christmas Eve to overturn a Federal Court ruling in favor of the city. Stinson was declared the victor in a lawsuit that has lasted for more than two years.

In 1981, the City of Craig purchased a 500-acre site north of Hayden for $500,000. The property was to be used to build a reservoir to ensure future water storage for the city. City officials later learned regulatory changes made building a reservoir financially unfeasible.

In July 1997, the city opened bids for sale of the property. The sale was awarded to Stinson for $176,000 more than a $300,000 loss to the city. Former mayor Bob Quillen signed a contract for the sale of the property and City Council passed an ordinance on its first reading approving the sale. On its second reading, several Craig residents protested the sale and Council voted against the ordinance.

Stinson sued the city Nov. 6, 1997, for breach of contract contending that, according to the city charter, Council did not need to pass an ordinance to sell the property. Attorneys for the city argued the sale was only valid if an ordinance was passed or by a vote of the people.

On Aug. 13, 1998, Federal Court Judge Richard Matsch ruled in favor of a city motion to dismiss the case, concluding the contract was void because City Council was required by state law to pass and ordinance approving the sale which it did not do.

Stinson appealed the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled in his favor.

Stinson's attorney, Jim Kilroy, is not surprised at the last-ditch effort to overturn the ruling.

"This is not unusual," he said. "It is unusual for the court to overturn itself. I'm not concerned. As my grandfather used to say, 'Asking isn't getting.'"

The city must file a brief with the court by the end of this week in order for the court to reconsider its ruling.

If the court rules in favor of Stinson, the case will be sent back to Judge Matsch where damages will be determined.

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