Legal maneuvering continues over $18 fee

Friday, January 4, 2019

By Scott Loftis

Attorneys for the court-appointed receiver for the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District last week filed court documents on behalf of the district in an ongoing class action lawsuit challenging the legality of an $18 fee being assessed to property owners in six north Arkansas counties in connection with a failed landfill.

Attorneys on the other side responded this week with their own court filings, arguing that the receiver has no standing to represent the solid waste district in the case.

Attorneys Matt Bishop and Wendy Howerton of Fayetteville represent Paul Summers of Berryville, the plaintiff in the class-action suit filed last May in Carroll County Circuit Court. Defendants in the lawsuit are the solid waste district and Carroll County tax collector Kay Phillips.

Little Rock attorney Geoffrey Treece was appointed by a Pulaski County judge overseeing a separate court case to serve as a receiver for the solid waste district. On Dec. 26, Treece’s attorney Mary-Tipton Thalheimer, filed a response to Summers’ first amended complaint.

That prompted Bishop and Howerton to file a motion seeking to strike Thalheimer’s response.

In their motion, Bishop and Howerton argue that as a court-appointed receiver, Treece is an “officer or arm of the court,” and a distinct party from the solid waste district.

“He has not been authorized to pursue litigation on the district’s behalf,” Bishop and Howerton write. “The Receiver therefore lacks the authority to act on behalf of the District in this lawsuit.”

Bishop and Howerton also argue that Treece has a fiduciary duty as a receiver that preclude him from acting on the district’s behalf in Summers’ lawsuit. They note that the solid waste district’s board of directors has not authorized Treece to act on its behalf in the lawsuit, and that the district has its own attorney who is billing the district for working on the Summers case.

Carroll County Circuit Judge Scott Jackson is presiding over the case. No hearing date has been scheduled.

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