Ashland resident warned about multiple lawsuits

With a stern warning against further "frivolous" lawsuits against the city, a Jackson County Circuit Court judge has tossed a suit against Nevada Street assessments by longtime gadfly Art Bullock.

On the city's motion, Circuit Judge Philip Arnold dismissed Bullock's suit on Dec. 18 and cautioned him that he showed "no good legal reason" for the suit and "has received adequate warning and (the court) will not provide a second chance to avoid attorney fees."

The court denied the city's request that Bullock pay $5,000 in legal fees, noting it would have a chilling effect on such actions by others and "a citizen ought to have the right to seek redress against a government."

However, Arnold added, "a government ought to be free from frivolous or unmeritorious claims which cost that government significant amounts of money."

The city has been short one staff attorney for many months and has contracted with a Eugene law firm at a cost of $150,000 to handle its overload, said City Attorney Richard Appicello. All but one of the contracted cases were actions filed by Bullock.

Bullock a few years ago lost a similar case about the city's local improvement district on Nevada Street and has two other Nevada Street cases pending, as well as suits about city actions on Schofield, Glenn, Park and Otis streets. He lives on Nevada Street. A local improvement district is often created by a municipal government as a way for residents in a specific area to pay for improvements within that district — like sidewalks, streetlights or paving.

"We're pleased with the decision," said Appicello. The city received a copy of Arnold's ruling on Wednesday. "We filed a motion to dismiss because the previous case decided the issues that Art wanted to re-litigate. They were in another case and he lost it."

Bullock frequently challenges the city on land use and other issues. State law allows suits by citizens on land use issues, even if they have no stake or "standing" in the matter, said Appicello. In the Schofield Street case, Appicello said he "got Art thrown out" and Bullock filed to get back on, lost and appealed that ruling.

In its motion to dismiss the Nevada Street case, the city said Bullock did not challenge the assessments, levied last June, but contested formation of the LID, a case which had already been decided, so the complaint had no merit.

Bullock responds to media questions only in writing and had not responded as of late Friday afternoon.

City Councilman David Chapman said he welcomes the decision and "it will be expensive (for Bullock) if his cases have no merit, so I hope he takes a closer look at that."

Chapman added that he hopes the decision doesn't inhibit other citizens from seeking relief if they feel wronged by city actions.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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