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Legal costs mount as Dover’s court battles continue

| September 7, 2023
Dover Law Director Doug O'Meara, left, and former mayor Richard Homrighausen, far right, attend a court hearing. In between them are four lawyers - two hired by the city and two representing the former mayor.

DOVER – The city’s legal fees are piling up as the trial dates for several court cases keep getting pushed back.

The city’s case against Dover Chemical – where it is both a defendant and a counter claimant – is the one eating up the most money. Mayor Shane Gunnoe says the dispute over an electric surcharge has cost the city $503,000 since September 2020.

“Certainly, it is a large expense, but the city of Dover has an obligation, obviously, to protect our ratepayers. There’s a $1.1 million surcharge that the city contends is owed to the Dover utilities and the residents of the city of Dover.”

Dover Chemical first sued the city in February 2021. The city countersued in 2022. Judge Elizabeth Thomakos postponed an initial January bench trial to May 7. Recently, both sides agreed to hire a private mediator.

“If possible, if a resolution can be accomplished within the bounds of our ordinances and our electrical regulations, we would certainly be open to discussing a resolution to the matter,” Gunnoe said, “but absent a resolution, we’re obviously prepared to defend our ordinances and our regulations.”

There is also a hearing Sept. 18th where Thomakos will hear arguments regarding Dover Chemical’s motion for sanctions against the city.

Homrighausen, Richard P vs. City of Dover et al

Dover is also a defendant and counter claimant in a nearly 1 ½-year-old case involving its former mayor Richard Homrighausen. Gunnoe says that case has cost the city $248,000 in attorney fees so far.

Judge Michael Ernest postponed an August bench trial until Nov. 2. He is also considering motions from both sides that could resolve at least part of the dispute before a trial.

The city is suing its opponents for legal costs in both the Dover Chemical case and the Homrighausen case.

City of Dover Ohio vs. Swinderman, Bradley Dale et al

The city also has a jury trial scheduled for Nov. 7, in a case against an East 20th Street resident. Dover is trying to use eminent domain to take ownership of a sliver of the resident’s property to complete bridge repairs, but he is objecting.

That case isn’t costing nearly as much as the others, at just over $13,000. Still, it’s dragging on more than a year past the initial filing. Ernest had scheduled a July jury trial before postponing it until November.

State of Ohio vs. Richard P Homrighausen

Separately, the former mayor has his own day in appeals court Tuesday, Sept. 12. Homrighausen is appealing the theft in office conviction that cost him the mayor’s job. A three-judge panel will hear his arguments in the Guersey County Courthouse at 9:30 a.m.

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