City seeks legal representation in lawsuits


Seymour will seek outside legal representation in two pending lawsuits involving costly damages at the city’s wastewater treatment plant and in an eminent domain case.

On Thursday, new city attorney Christina Engleking, who replaced former attorney Rodney Farrow at the beginning of the year, requested the board of public works and safety hire another law firm to argue the issues on behalf of the city.

Engleking said Farrow withdrew his representation on the cases, and since they require a high degree of expertise in a specific area of law she does not have, she wanted the city to “farm out” the work.

“I wanted to see if you would be OK with me reaching out to another firm,” she said.

The board voted 3-0 to approve Engleking’s request.

After speaking with Rick Steward, assistant director of the wastewater treatment plant, about the city’s case, Engleking said Steward had an attorney in mind.

In 2017, the city sued those responsible for the design and construction of a water clarifier that was installed at the wastewater treatment plant in 2004. That piece of equipment, one of three at the plant that removes solid particles from wastewater before it’s discharged into the East Fork White River, suffered catastrophic damage after it imploded in the spring of 2016.

The clarifier was part of a $17 million project to increase the treatment plant’s capacity from 4.3 million gallons to 8.7 million per day.

The Seymour City Council agreed to issue up to $3 million in bonds to replace the clarifier, which should have lasted at least 50 years. That work was completed in October 2017.

The ongoing litigation is an attempt to recoup sewer utility funds that were used to pay back the bonds.

The other case involves the city’s use of eminent domain in 2019 to acquire land owned by Parkland Inc. That property is included in the project to build the Burkart Boulevard south bypass, which is scheduled to begin this spring.

The city paid Parkland Inc. $202,666 for the property, but owner Gregg Pardieck filed an objection contending the city was dividing his farm ground.

Engleking said that case is set for a bench trial in May.

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