Middleport may ‘lawyer up’ in lawsuit

By Lindsay Kriz - lkriz@civitasmedia.com

MIDDLEPORT — Middleport Council and Mayor Michael Gerlach, after an executive meeting Wednesday night, authorized Village Solicitor Mick Barr to contact attorneys to handle the lawsuit brought against the village last month.

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court in Columbus by Steve C. Shane, a Cincinnati attorney. The plaintiffs are Jaymes L. Cramer Jr. and Myrtie M. Cramer, who are suing both the Village of Middleport and the Middleport Water Department.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Daily Sentinel, on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, the plaintiffs entered into an oral lease with the owner of a property located at 315 Lot A on Ash Street, in Middleport. According to the lawsuit, this oral lease permitted the plaintiffs to occupy a 1979 Festive house trailer located on the property, which the plaintiffs had purchased from its previous owner, in exchange for rent of $100 a month. The lawsuit also states that the property owner was not obligated under the oral lease to pay for the plaintiffs’ water usage.

The plaintiffs have been staying in the trailer from Aug. 30, 2015, along with their cousin and their cousin’s son. It was also on this day, according to the lawsuit, that the plaintiffs contacted the defendants, through several attempts, and tried to establish an account so that they could have water in their trailer.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants refused to open an account in the plaintiffs’ names or to provide them with water, stating that the plaintiffs owed the defendants $624.23 based on water usage by the previous owner of the trailer. According to the last item listed in the lawsuit, because of the defendants’ refusal the plaintiffs have been forced to get water for themselves and the other people staying in their trailer by carrying it in from the homes of friends and neighbors, or by bathing at the homes of friends and neighbors.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages in whatever amount is determined if the case goes to trial, punitive damages totaling $50,000, a declaration that the defendants’ conduct violated plaintiffs’ equal protection rights, an injunction requiring defendants to provide the plaintiffs with water service, and an injunction requiring the defendants to discontinue their practice of denying water service in the manner described in the lawsuit.

Barr said he would follow procedure and would not comment on the subject. Shane said that all information is available within the lawsuit itself.

Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.

By Lindsay Kriz