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Judge denies Seybold's motion

by Tim Tedeschi - ttedeschi@chronicle-tribune.com

Grant County Superior Court 3 Judge Warren Haas issued an order Thursday denying Chad Seybold’s motion for sanctions and other relief against the City of Marion in the midst of the ongoing Old Y lawsuit.

The judge further ordered that Seybold’s former counsel in the case, P. Adam Davis, pay back the city $10,097.15 in attorneys’ fees and expenses as a result of the city attorney team’s work put into responding to Seybold’s motion.

Seybold’s renewed and updated motion filed July 24 by Davis alleges the city and its counsel failed to timely produce documents and acted in bad faith. The motion states five groups of documents were withheld by the city with Seybold not granted access until June 19, 2019, after the discovery period in the case had closed.

The city’s first response to the motion filed by its counsel Ice Miller, LLP on Aug. 16 states a portion of the groups of documents were first sent to Seybold on Nov. 27, 2017 and were then sent a second time as a courtesy to his then-new counsel Davis on April 9, 2018 on a disc.

The remaining documents identified in Seybold’s motion were reportedly provided to Seybold and Davis through a file sharing service on Oct. 1, 2018, the city’s response claims. The response called Seybold’s motion and assertion that documents were withheld as “factually groundless.”

“At best, this Motion was a product of gross neglect, and at worst, it was just another attempt to derail the trial in this case and unfairly portray the City and its attorneys in a negative light,” the city’s response states.

A reply in support of Seybold’s motion was filed Oct. 17 by Davis. It stated that Seybold found three of the sharefile folders in question, that he originally alleged he was not given access to until June 19, were sent to him on April 9, 2019.

The reply claims Seybold was unaware he had access to the documents because the files on the disc were not labeled using the corresponding Bates numbering system. However, the reply maintained that the other two sharefile folders, containing 8,400 documents, were not made available until June 19, validating the July 24 motion.

“Whether Ice Miller intentionally or more likely accidentally believed that it gave access to these 8400 Documents, the fact of the matter is that they did not until after the fact discovery deadline had expired and less than a month before Trial,” the reply states. “To make matters worse, Ice Miller attempts to mislead this Court to believe otherwise by intentionally and/or recklessly mischaracterizing its own evidence.”

The city responded to Davis’s reply in an Oct. 23 filing alleging that the reply should be “stricken in its entirety” since Davis was dismissed as Seybold’s counsel in July and was only permitted to respond on his own behalf.

The response maintains the city’s claims that the city provided Davis with access to all documents, including the 8,400 in question, on Oct. 1, 2018. It further requests that the court enter sanctions against Seybold and Davis for alleged misconduct and for an award of attorneys’ fees.

An Oct. 31 filing by Eric J. McKeown of Ice Miller states the firm’s work responding to Seybold’s July 24 renewed and updated motion totaled 33.6 hours of work at an agreed-upon rate of approximately $300.51 per hour, for a total of at least $10,097.15.

According to Haas’s order, Davis has seven days to pay the city the more than $10,000 in legal fees.

“We believe that that order as well as numerous other orders of the court are extremely unfair,” Davis said in a phone interview Friday.

He said the order was issued in the midst of a pending withdrawal of submission request currently pending before the Indiana Supreme Court.

State law allows parties to request that the Supreme Court withdraw a case from a judge and assign it to another judge if a motion has been pending for 30 days without a date set for a hearing.

“It’s our position that Judge Haas should have recused himself from the case,” Davis said.

Davis also noted that Grant County Superior Court 1 Judge Jeffrey D. Todd has recused himself in a separate lawsuit filed by Seybold against the city, Mayor Jess Alumbaugh and other individuals. Todd’s order filed Nov. 4 states no court in Grant County could hear the case on its merits and directs the Clerk of Courts to select a special judge from Madison County to hear the case.

Judge Haas was unable to be reached for comment as of deadline Friday.

McKeown did not respond to the Chronicle-Tribune’s request for comment as of deadline Friday.