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November 14, 2012

Dreyer estate rejects settlement deal with county

Clark council to consider new deal Thursday, as county attorney attempts to convince air board to sue its own lawyer



Also Thursday, Fifer will appear before the Clark County Board of Aviation Commissioners in the hopes of persuading the board to allow him and fellow attorney Steve Voelker to represent the board in a legal malpractice suit against air board attorney Jack Vissing.

Fifer is suing the attorney because he believes Vissing is responsible for the county owing the additional $661,395 plus interest. He claims Vissing could have asked that Mead’s filing of the original eminent domain lawsuit be dismissed because it was not filed in a timely manner.

“Mead had failed to timely ask for a trial on the issue of damages, and all Jack had to do was file a motion to dismiss, which means the case would have been over with,” Fifer said. “I’m 100 percent convinced of that.”

Legally, the air board would have to give Fifer and Voelker the authority to pursue the suit, which has already been filed against Vissing. Fifer said he wants Vissing to be responsible for the damages if the Indiana Court of Appeals rules against Fifer in his appeal of the eminent-domain judgment.

“I’m not going to let this go voluntarily,” Fifer said. “That’s all I can tell you. The public treasury should not be suffering this loss.”

However, Vissing believes that the air board will not agree to allow the malpractice suit to go forward. The air board had decided early on to allow the Dreyer lawsuit to go forward, Vissing said.

“It wasn’t malpractice on my part,” Vissing said. “It was a decision made early on, but Greg has never asked about that, and he’s never told the truth.”

Vissing said that an appraisal of the disputed land performed by Ed Haire on behalf of engineering firm Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz for the air board was at the heart of the problem. Haire had appraised the land as agricultural, but a jury found that it should have been appraised as light industrial.

“We’d always intended to let her have a right to a trial, because [Haire] was emphatic that we had offered sufficient monies,” Vissing said. “Well lo and behold, [Haire] had made a mistake, and the verdict came in substantially higher.”

Vissing said he believes that the Federal Aviation Administration has grants scheduled in 2013 that will pay a large portion, if not all, of the judgment.

No grant money has been awarded to the air board yet, but Airport Manager Melodee McNames said it’s possible that unspent grant monies from other airports could be redirected to the air board, as well as grant money that was returned to the FAA and the state for which other airports could not fund the local matching-funds requirements.

“I feel very positive that money will come through by the summer,” McNames said.

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