Carlisle officials say former mayor Tim Humphries’ federal conspiracy theory lawsuit has cost the village a lot in time and money and the $6.5 million suit isn’t even over yet.
Since Humphries, who is a village council candidate in the November election, filed his lawsuit in federal court in 2010, the village has generated $380,938 in legal fees and their liability insurance bill has jumped almost 47 percent, according to Village Manager Sherry Callahan.
Humphries sued the village, Callahan, Law Director David Chicarelli and other past and present officials and employees accusing them of conspiring to ruin him. The crux of the case centered around sexually-explicit pictures that were found on his city-owned computer, pictures he claims were planted.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott dismissed Humphries’ lawsuit in May finding he failed to clarify or bolster any of his claims. Humphries has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Callahan said the village’s insurance — after it switched to a new plan in 2007 — was seeing annual premium decreases until Humphries filed the lawsuit. The premium jumped $8,360 between 2010 and 2011, another $7,715 the next year and $7,943 this year. Since Humphries’ suit was the only one the village was defending — except for a small case that was quickly settled — Callahan says there is a direct correlation.
“We have no other pending cases, so whatever the increase is, is a direct correlation,” she said. “My time, my secretary’s time, my police officers’ time when we had to go to the depositions all day or a half a day, we’re still paying them, even though they’re not policing, they’re sitting in a deposition. That’s thousands of dollars.”
Humphries could not be reached for comment.
Other local municipalities that have had long legal battles said they have not felt the sting of rising insurance rates. The home builders battle with Hamilton Twp. in Warren County has been going on since 2007. The Ohio Supreme Court deemed the impact fees the township was charging home builders were illegal taxes in the summer of 2012 and the two sides are still wrangling over an estimated $1 million worth of attorneys’ fees.
Hamilton Twp. Fiscal Officer Jackie Terwilleger says the township’s insurance policy will cover the legal bill, but she imagines it will mean a rate hike.
“We have not seen one yet, but it hasn’t come up for renewal yet,” she “I assume it will go up but I don’t know by how much.”
Meanwhile, the city of Oxford has not, and likely will not see a big spike in liability insurance over the Taser wrongful death case officials settle in federal court earlier this year, according to City Manager Doug Elliott. The city’s insurance company paid Mary and Charles Piskura $750,000 in March for a lawsuit over the 2008 incident when their son Kevin died after police tased him.
Elliott said insurance companies generally only go back five years when looking at a claim record, and Piskura is beyond that window.
“The Piskura claim had some impact over the last few years as some companies did decline to provide a quote on the city’s liability insurance, as there was a sizeable loss reserve. This also had some impact on the deductible for law enforcement liability,” he said. “However, it was not the driving force behind our premiums. Carriers that quoted were more interested in what was being done to prevent a future loss than the loss that occurred.”