County still dealing with lawsuits about jail, dog-mauling case

Montgomery County leaders took steps this week to secure outside counsel for the coming year to handle several ongoing lawsuits.

On Tuesday, Montgomery County commissioners authorized several agreements to allow the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office to use outside counsel for lawsuits, including one against the Montgomery County Jail and a lawsuit from the estate of Klonda Richey against the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center.

Klonda Richey

Richey, 57, of Dayton, was mauled to death by her neighbors’ two dogs in February 2014.

Andrew Nason and Julie Custer were the owners of the dogs.

Richey, who worked for Montgomery County Children Services and lived with about 20 cats, sought protection from the dogs and her neighbors for months before her death, according to records obtained by this newspaper from the county and courts.

EARLIER REPORT: Couple in fatal dog mauling case sentenced

In total, 13 complaints were filed with the Animal Resource Center and another 46 calls were made to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center related to Nason’s home between Dec. 27, 2011, and Richey’s death on Feb. 7.

An attorney handling Richey’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Montgomery County commissioners, the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center (ARC) and former ARC director/Montgomery County Dog Warden Mark Kumpf, said Greg Flannagan, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.

The board of commissioners approved an agreement with the law firm Pickrel, Schaeffer and Ebeling for $75,000 to continue litigation in the Richey case. The agreement will last through Dec. 31, 2020.

Judge Carl Henderson sentenced Nason and Custer to jail time and community service. They also had to pay fines.

Montgomery County Land Bank

A Montgomery County resident is suing the county, arguing that the county land bank takes property from land owners without compensating them for the difference between a property’s value and taxes owed on the land.

RELATED: Resident sues county over Land Bank seizure

The property in question in the lawsuit was owned by the mother of the plaintiff, Alana Harrison.

The plaintiff estimates that 2,000 other residents of Montgomery County could be impacted by this.

Montgomery County is one of several counties in the state being sued over this issue. The Montgomery County commissioners passed a resolution to appoint Stephen Funk, with Roetzel and Andress, to act as special counsel in this case, Flannagan said.

Funk is representing the other counties being sued, according to Flannagan.

“This won’t cost the county anything,” Flannagan said.

RELATED: Plaintiffs ask that jail overcrowding suit be dismissed

County jail lawsuits

Commissioners also approved an agreement with Susan Blasik-Miller and Kelly Schroeder of Freun, Freeze and Arnold, who have been helping the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office with a lawsuit alleging overcrowding at the county jail.

The lawsuit was filed by named plaintiff Nicholas Alston and Keith Barber, among others, in July 2018. The plaintiffs moved to dismiss the case in 2019, but the county has set aside money in case something were to be refiled, Flannagan said.

The county authorized an agreement, not to exceed $10,000, with the law firm.

The plaintiff in the case, in the motion to dismiss, cited the county’s “commitment to invest significant funds in facility improvements with a goal of meeting current detention standards set by accrediting agencies.”

This lawsuit was one of several that alleged mistreatment at the county jail. These lawsuits prompted the formation of a community board that suggested changes to the jail and the hiring of a consulting company to develop a master plan for improving the jail.

RELATED: Montgomery County to spend $500K on plan to improve jail after costly lawsuits over mistreatment

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