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Judge rejects appeal of ruling favoring Gardner Fire District

Marsaglia reiterates district had right to terminate contract with department

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 8:09 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 8:10 a.m. CST

The Gardner Fire Protection District has obtained another victory in the courts regarding litigation between it and the former Gardner Volunteer Fire Department.

On Jan. 14, Judge Robert Marsaglia’s order in favor of the district’s motion for a summary judgment was filed. The motion was requested in regards to the department’s complaint appealing the judge’s ruling that the termination of the contract between the district and department was valid. The department was stating the termination was invalid.

The judge’s order stated the district had the right to terminate the contract of the department when the department no longer provided services to the satisfaction of the district.

The judgment also ruled against the department’s allegations that the district fraudulently induced the department into documents.

The district’s summary judgment ruled in favor of the district for six counts.

This ruling benefits the district in all the major litigation against it, said the district’s attorney, Rick Porter of Hinshaw & Culbertson on Monday.

The department could again file an appeal, said Porter. A call to the former department’s attorney, Tim Rathbun of Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol, was not returned before press time.

In October, when the judge’s previous ruling in favor of the district came in, the fire district and its new chief, Terry Jensen, took over the Gardner fire station. It had previously taken over equipment through court order.

When the department no longer had rights to the equipment, the district took over fire service to the village and was operating out of the village hall until it could acquire the building.

The whole battle between the district and department started when former department Chief Randy Wilkey refused to give the district board original receipts from which to pay the department’s bills, according to previous statements by district representatives and Wilkey.

Eventually, when Wilkey refused to give originals, the district refused to pay the bills. This led to the feud going to court and the district no longer recognizing Wilkey as chief.

The district terminated its contract for services with the department due to it misappropriating funds by using its money for legal fees to argue an election for district trustees. The department said then it could not misappropriate its own funds.

The court ruled the misappropriation of funds was reason for termination.

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