Ada County Highway District will appeal a district judge’s ruling that the district owes more than $1 million to the owner of Brooke View, a retirement community west of Curtis Road and south of Franklin Road, spokesman Craig Quintana said Wednesday.
One of the highway district’s arguments is that Judge Cheri Copsey wrongly ruled that Brooke View prevailed in the case. The district should be considered the winner, Quintana said, because it offered Brooke View founder and majority owner Diane Miller more money — $275,000 — to settle the case than the amount a jury awarded Brooke View in a jury trial three months later.
Copsey said that standard doesn’t apply here, partly because the costs Miller had already incurred totaled more than $275,000.
“As of the Jan. 6, 2015, offer, Brooke View had incurred approximately $524,978.99 in fees and costs,” Copsey wrote.
Copsey said a more relevant number was the district’s earlier settlement offer of $45,000 — far less than the jury award.
The Brooke View dispute started in 2012 with an eminent domain case over the stretch of South Curtis Road that runs in front of the Brooke View community. The district was improving the road and built a sidewalk in that area. Later, as construction progressed, Miller accused the district of damaging a decorative wall at the entrance to the neighborhood.
Both sides dug in. After almost three years of legal back-and-forth, a jury ended up awarding Brooke View $146,000 in compensation.
Quintana said the district’s legal team has the go-ahead for an appeal from its governing body, its board of commissioners, but hasn’t worked out the details, such as timing.
“We also believe the judge hampered ACHD’s case in what she would let into court, freely let Brooke View bring in all witnesses and ultimately made an unsupportable ruling regarding the attorney’s fees,” Quintana said.
Attorney fees account for more than $744,000 — most of the $1.15 million Copsey ordered the district to pay Brooke View. More than $365,000 is for “discretionary costs” the judge deemed were reasonable and necessary, given the case Miller was fighting.