Lawsuit against Midlothian and Waxahachie seeks temporary injunction
By 12/28/2006 00:00:00
Plantiff wants to halt airport construction
WAXAHACHIE - Seeking a temporary injunction to prevent work from progressing on the construction of hangers at the Midway Airport on Texas Highway 287, Midlothian resident Thomas Stephens will be back in court at 9 a.m. Thursday in County Court at Law No. 1.
On Dec. 15 Stephens and Joey Dauben appeared as plaintiffs in Judge Bob Carroll's County Court at Law No. 1 requesting a temporary restraining order against the airport board and both cities as a way to stop construction.
The airport jointly owned by the cities of Waxahachie and Midlothian, had began moving dirt and having steel and doors for the facility produced before the temporary restraining order was filed.
Prior to starting the hearing for the restraining order, Judge Carroll and Stephens and Dauben's attorney Brian Carroll made it clear they had never meet and it was pure coincidence that each had the same last name.
Last month construction contractor Ken Halverson said the City of Waxahachie illegally awarded a bid to a locally company to construct four airport hangers.
Waxahachie has always handled the administrative functions since the airport was formed.
Stephens, a property owner in Midlothian, said as a taxpayer he wanted to make sure government agencies were awarding bids legally and after hearing Halverson's claims he was not too sure that happened in this case, so he filed the lawsuit.
'The taxpayers will spend more money than needed because of improper bidding,' the plaintiff's attorney Carroll said.
Waxahachie Finance Director Carl Wessels said the bid was awarded legally as allowed by law and work had begun on the project.
'The steel is being fabricated as we speak,' Wessels said during court proceedings.
Judge Carroll asked the plaintiffs' attorney why he did not file paperwork requesting a temporary restraining order sooner.
Attorney Carroll said he was trying to give the defendants, Waxahachie and Midlothian time to respond to the lawsuit.
'I filed a TRO request within 24 hours once I knew they were moving forward,' he said noting if the cities were allowed to move forward on construction it would cost taxpayers more because money from the illegal contract would be spent.
After almost two hours of listening to both sides of the case Judge Carroll denied the temporary restraining order, but did schedule the temporary injunction hearing at the request of the Attorney Carroll.
The judge tried to find a date acceptable to both sides to schedule the injunction hearing while minimizing harm to the construction schedule.
'The cities can proceed if they want to over the next 13 days at their risk,' he ordered.
'Whether there is a slab or not a slab that will not affect my decision.'
Waxahachie's Attorney Jim Chapman and Midlothian's Attorney Don Stout pointed out to Judge Carroll the law prevented Dauben from being a plaintiff because he was not a tax-paying property owner in Waxahachie.
While Dauben was a resident of Waxahachie, he lived in a dormitory while attending the Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
'People who do not pay property taxes in the city need to know they cannot lawfully bring suit against the city if they have a legitimate issue or problem. That's unfortunate, because that same line of reasoning should apply to voting as well,' Dauben said.
'If you don't own property, you shouldn't be able to vote. That line of reasoning went into creating the lawsuit law.'
Judge Carroll demanded Stephens' Attorney Carroll refile the lawsuit removing Dauben as a plaintiff within a 72-hour period.
If Attorney Carroll had not refilled the paperwork then Judge Carroll said the case would be automatically dismissed.