He had been ordered to pay for the city's attorneys' fees, but delays caused the total to increase.
Palm Coast resident Dennis McDonald has delivered a check to the city of Palm Coast for $9,037.54, bringing his frivolous lawsuit to a close — although the matter leaves taxpayers on the hook for more than $12,000.
McDonald sued the city over a dispute regarding the rules for removing trees near the site of the Island Walk Shopping Center, and a judge declared one year ago that not only was the lawsuit without merit, but that McDonald and his attorney, Joshua Knight, should have known better. They were ordered to pay the city back for attorneys' fees needed to fight the lawsuit.
City Manager Jim Landon said at the July 28 City Council meeting, "Anyone can sue you, and you have to defend. It's sad."
It's a sad day when you take taxpayers' money and just throw it away.
— Bill McGuire, Palm Coast City Council
McDonald and Knight were required by the judge to pay $8,000 each. The city entered into negotiations with McDonald and Knight to arrange for a payment plan. According to City Clerk Virginia Smith, Knight accepted the settlement. It was revealed at the July 28 City Council meeting that Knight's father paid $5,000, and the matter was settled for his portion.
However, McDonald rejected the settlement agreement, Smith wrote via email. As a result City Attorney Bill Reischmann had to research and come up with a strategy for collecting the money. Ultimately, McDonald paid his amount without coercion, plus more than $1,000 in interest. But that research, as well as the settlement negotiations, resulted in additional costs to the city.
The total for the attorneys' fees and additional costs is $26,268.18. The total amount paid by McDonald and Knight for their role in frivolous lawsuit was $14,037.54.
At the July 28 City Council meeting, City Manager Jim Landon pointed out that even though it was unfortunate that the city had to pay extra for collections, "Overall, it was better than the taxpayers paying the whole amount."
City Councilman Bill McGuire wasn't totally satisfied. He said, "At the end of the day, the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay anything. And they are. ... It's a sad day when you take taxpayers' money and just throw it away."
Landon also commented on the recent announcement by the developers of Island Walk that they are 84% full. "That's what we were sued over, was to prevent Island Walk," he said. "I think it's ironic that that has been settled in our favor."