City, railway lawsuit continues

The Ely Times

Two years later the City of Ely and S&S Shortline Railroad are still involved in a lawsuit that began back in June of 2015.

The Ely Times covered the filing of the S&S lawsuit in the July 17, 2015, issue.

The article stated as the Ely City Council prepared to vote on accepting the dismissal of the lawsuit brought forth against them by the Nevada Northern Railroad’s Management Board, the board was just finding out that the city had filed a lawsuit of their own.

The City of Ely filed a lawsuit against S&S Shortline Leasing on June 8, 2015.

The lawsuit was to seek relief from damages caused by breach of written agreement, accounting and trespassing from the city’s rail-car storage agreement that joined the city and S&S into a business relationship back in 2009.

City attorney Charles Odgers was added onto the lawsuit as co-counsel to assist the city’s retained counsel of John Samberg who works for Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin Law Office.

Odgers was added since the city attorney at the time, Richard Sears, had a conflict of interest having represented S&S Shortline before. At that time, Odgers also said the city had budgeted $50,000 for Samberg’s legal fees for the fiscal year in 2015.

On Dec. 22, 2016, a agenda item that city council woman Jolene Gardner requested to be put on the agenda was for discussion and possible action to accept a settlement from S&S Railroad.

The offer was for $750,000, $50,000 of the money would pay for the legal expenses incurred, and the $700,000 would go to the city.

Councilman Bruce Settersrom at the time requested a motion to accept the settlement. Pat Robison, also a former councilwoman seconded the motion, and councilmembers Kurt Carson, Sam Hanson, Jolene Gardner and Bruce Setterstrom all voted against the offer, leaving  Robison the only council member who voted yes.

Councilmembers Gardner, Hanson, and City Attorney Odgers traveled to Reno in August of this year for depositions that were held on August 21 and 22, in regards to the lawsuit between the S&S Railroad and the City of Ely.

Travel, and per diem costs for the three are unknown at this time, but a public records request has been made to the City Treasurer.

A public records request to the City of Ely revealed that the city has paid over $66,000 to the law office of Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin Law Office, to represent the city. Depositions in the month of August totaled out to $14,168.38.

A meeting for mediation on this lawsuit has been scheduled for Oct. 23 in Reno. The counsels attorney Samberg is paid $450 an hour for his services, and preparation for this meeting will incur more costs to the city.

When asked what their thoughts were on this mediation meeting, Councilwoman Gardner said, “I hope it goes well and we can get this settled.”

Mark Bassett, executive director for the Nevada Northern Railway said, “This is an unfortunate situation. The City of Ely never consulted the Foundation before filing the lawsuits. If they had, we would have offered to be intermediaries to resolve the city’s issue”.

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Comments

  1. Gene Townsend says:

    How can little old Ely afford all these legal fees?

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