Archive for Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Trial date set in city lawsuit

Jury trial scheduled for March 2004

April 30, 2003

A trial has been scheduled for March 2004 in a federal lawsuit filed against the city of Tonganoxie by owners of three downtown businesses.

The jury trial is now scheduled for 9:30 a.m. March 2 in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., on a lawsuit alleging the city violated the business owners' civil rights by boycotting their companies.

The lawsuit was brought by John Lenahan, Roger and Phyllis Shilling and Don Pelzl against the city of Tonganoxie, as well as former Mayor John Franiuk, city attorney Mike Crow and former City Administrator Chris Clark.

The suit alleges that because the business owners were critical of the city over a bond issue in 2000 to partially finance a downtown improvement project, that the city refused to do business with their companies.

The $1.1 million project included a wider Fourth Street, new sidewalks, storm sewers and new street lights. The three sued the city, alleging there were irregularities in the proposed $700,000 bond issue. That suit was settled out of court in November 2000.

The business owners, in particular the late Jean Lenahan, wife of John Lenahan, continued their public criticisms of some aspects of the bond issue after the suit was settled, the federal suit says. So Clark directed city employees not to make purchases at three businesses owned by the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants violated the business owners' First Amendment right to publicly express their opposition to the bond issue, interfered with their businesses and portrayed them falsely.

City officials have said they would not comment on the lawsuit.

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