By MATT KOESTERS
The county is out of options on trying to avoid paying a judgment stemming from an eminent domain action for the expansion of Clark County Regional Airport.
The Indiana Supreme Court handed down a decision Thursday upholding the Indiana Court of Appeals’ opinion that the county must pay the estate of Margaret Dreyer $865,000 plus accrued interest for the acquisition of property. With interest, the total being awarded to the Dreyer estate is about $912,000.
“The opinion of the Court of Appeals is summarily affirmed,” wrote Chief Justice Brent Dickson. There was no dissenting opinion filed in the matter.
South Central Regional Airport Authority Attorney Greg Fifer said he was “disappointed” with the result.
“They have affirmed the result of the judgment remaining in place, meaning we’ll have to pay it now,” Fifer said. “So that’s what we’ll proceed to do, and I will proceed to try to get the county made whole through the other avenues that have been on hold that we are pursuing.”
That includes suing former Board of Aviation Commissioners attorney Jack Vissing for legal malpractice. A call to Vissing’s Jeffersonville office Thursday was not answered, and no voice mail could be left requesting a call back because the office’s voice mailbox was full.
“We’re disappointed, but we just have to go to our next alternative,” Airport Authority board member Tom Galligan said. “That is to go after Mr. Vissing for the damages.”
Fifer and attorney Steve Voelker have already filed suit against Vissing in Floyd County Circuit Court, but the trial had been put on hold while the matter of the county’s appeal of the Dreyer judgment was being pursued. Fifer said he expects to resume that trial soon.
Fifer noted that the airport authority will have to come up with a “couple thousand dollars” to completely satisfy the judgment, as $910,000 had been put into court escrow.
The Airport Authority learned Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded it two grants totaling about $1.3 million for the relocation of Bean Road.
“We’re tickled,” Galligan said. “We’ve been working hard, the previous board worked on it and we’re working on it, so we’re glad that it came about, and we think it’s a big plus to be able to relocate Bean Road.”
The road is being moved to make room for the runway expansion project. Galligan estimated the road relocation should be completed in Fall 2014.