Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bluegrass Dutch Trust Morehead, LLC v. White

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division

August 16, 2017

BLUEGRASS DUTCH TRUST MOREHEAD, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RAY WHITE, et al., DEFENDANTS.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr. United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 40]. The matter has been fully briefed by the parties. For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that the Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         I.

         Plaintiff alleges that the Fiscal Court denied its request to erect a fence on county property in retaliation for Plaintiffs alleged political support for then-candidate for Judge Executive Walter "Doc" Blevins. [Verified Complaint, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 5, ¶ 27.]

         The Plaintiff, Bluegrass Dutch Trust Morehead, LLC, owns property located at 19 Hickory Drive in Rowan County, Kentucky ("the Property"). [Verified Complaint, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 3, ¶ 11.] The Property is located in Hickory Points Subdivision, which was developed by Kinder & Ruth, Inc. [Id. at ¶ 14.] During development, Kinder & Ruth, Inc., granted an easement and right of way to the Rowan County Fiscal Court.

         The Plaintiff alleges that in August 2014, it began attempting to obtain what it refers to as a "variance" from the Fiscal Court. [Id. at p. 5 ¶ 28.] Specifically, Plaintiff sought to obtain permission from the Fiscal Court to erect a wrought iron fence and an electric gate on the front of the driveway of its Property; the Fiscal Court's permission to do so is necessary because the proposed fence and gate would encroach on the Fiscal Court's easement. [Id.] The Plaintiff claims that its attempts to obtain the variance have been met with "resistance, obstruction, and a complete refusal to act." [Verified Complaint, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 5, ¶ 29.] Plaintiff alleges that this "resistance" is, in fact, retaliation against the Plaintiff for its alleged support of Walter "Doc" Blevins ("Blevins") during the 2014 Rowan County Judge Executive election contest. [Id. at pp. 4 and 5.]

         Plaintiff alleges that it, through one of its members, erected a yard sign supporting Blevins in the campaign. [Id. at p. 4.] Blevins prevailed in the election over his opponent, Richard White; Richard White is the brother of Defendant Ray White, one of the members of the Rowan County Fiscal Court. [Id. at p. 4, ¶¶ 21, 23.] Plaintiff alleges that Defendant White and other members of the Rowan County Fiscal Court had knowledge of Plaintiff s support and were "highly displeased that the Trust not only supported Judge Blevins but also erected a Blevins campaign sign[.]" [Id. at p. 5, ¶ 27.]

         At some point after August 2014, Plaintiff retained James Frazier and Jaron Blanford of the McBrayer firm to assist it in obtaining the variance. [Verified Complaint, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 6, ¶ 33.] Mr. Frazier sent several letters on behalf of the Plaintiff in an effort to convince the Fiscal Court to grant it. [Id. at pp. 6 and 7.]

         These efforts culminated in Judge Blevins making a motion during a February 23, 2015, special session to grant the encroachment; however, because no other member of the Fiscal Court seconded the motion, it failed. [Id. at p. 7, ¶ 40.]

         Following the failed motion, Frazier and Blanford participated in a conference call with Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins, wherein the Plaintiff alleges that Watkins stated that the "Fiscal Court's refusal was 'payback' and 'politics.'" [Verified Complaint, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 7, ¶ 42.] Plaintiff alleges that Frazier and Blanford withdrew "[a]t least in part because [they] would be witnesses in any litigation between the [Plaintiff] and the Fiscal Court." [Id.]

         The Plaintiff subsequently retained Richard Getty of the Getty Law Group, PLLC, and filed this action, alleging violations of its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

         The Defendants named in the Complaint are: Rowan County Fiscal Court, Ray White; Individually and in his Official Capacity as Rowan County Fiscal Court Member; Darrell Glover, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Rowan County Fiscal Court Member; Charlie Winkleman, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Rowan County Fiscal Court Member; Stanley Messer, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Rowan County Fiscal Court Member; and James D. Nickell, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Former Rowan County Judge Executive.

         Given that Plaintiffs retaliation claims appears to rest entirely upon the statements of its former lawyers - Mr. Frazier and Mr. Blanford - Defendants noticed their depositions and served them with subpoenas.

         However, on the day of the depositions, counsel for the McBrayer firm indicated that neither Mr. Frazier nor Mr. Blanford would sit for their depositions, citing confidentiality concerns under Kentucky Supreme Court Rule 3.130(1.6) (confidentiality of information) and Kentucky Supreme Court Rule 3.130(1.9) (duty to former clients). Counsel for the McBrayer firm stated for the record his position that Messrs. Frazier and Blanford were prohibited from testifying absent the informed consent of Plaintiff or a court order.

         According to Defendant's motion, counsel for Plaintiff disagreed, stating that conversations held between former counsel and third-parties were not privileged. Tempers flared and the deposition ended with Plaintiffs counsel announcing his intention to file a joint motion with Defendants seeking to compel the testimony of Plaintiff s former counsel.

         However, the motion was never filed. Instead, Plaintiff's counsel, the Getty Firm filed a Motion to Withdraw. The Court sustained the Plaintiffs counsel's Motion to Withdraw and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.