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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news September 30, 2014

4/27/2014 6:03:00 AM
Judge awards $35,000 to Riley for attorney fees in lawsuit against City of Prescott
Pictured are former Humane Society employee KayAnne Riley, left, and Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall.
Pictured are former Humane Society employee KayAnne Riley, left, and Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall.
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT -  A February judge's order regarding the emails that Mayor Marlin Kuykendall and the City of Prescott allegedly discarded improperly has resulted in a $35,000 stipulation against the city for attorneys' fees.

Friday's stipulation was the latest development in the lawsuit that former Yavapai Humane Society employee KayAnne Riley filed against the city nearly three years ago, claiming that interference by Kuykendall led to the loss of her job.

When U.S. Senior District Court Judge James Teilborg issued a ruling on the lawsuit on Feb. 19, he not only denied the city's motion for dismissal, but also found Kuykendall responsible for deleting emails that were relevant to the case.

Under the ruling on culpability on the mayor's Gmail account, the judge ruled: "The court finds that Mayor Kuykendall acted willfully and in bad faith, and, thus, with a culpable state of mind."

The judge granted Riley's request for sanctions on the matter, ruling that "adverse inference instructions" to the jury would be warranted. In addition, the judge ruled that Riley was entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in connection with the motion and "seeking spoliated evidence."

At that time, the judge directed the two sides to confer in good faith to resolve their differences over the amount of the attorneys' fees.

The matter has been resolved, according to the stipulation filed by attorneys from both sides on Friday. It states that "the parties have exchanged information, met, conferred" and "have come to an agreement on the amount of reasonable expenses and attorneys' fees to be awarded plaintiff."

The two sides agreed that the court award Riley "the total amount of $35,000 as the amount... incurred in connection with plaintiff's motion seeking relief for spoliation, and in seeking spoliated evidence."

The document adds that the award should not be construed as a waiver by the city of the right to appeal, or the right of either party to seek other fees and costs at a later time.

Along with the stipulation by the two sides, Teilborg issued a proposed order, awarding Riley the $35,000.

Riley sued the city in 2011, claiming that Kuykendall violated her constitutional right to free speech by contacting Humane Society officials and threatening to end the city's contract with the organization over her participation in a 2010 protest against city "bullying" tactics involving former Elks Opera House Dawn Castaneda.

Although the matter ap-peared to be headed to a jury trial this summer, Teilborg issued an order in early April granting Prescott's motion to halt the Riley lawsuit until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has a chance to weigh in on a city appeal - a move that could postpone a trial at the U.S. District Court level for months.

Prescott Communications and Public Affairs Manager Pete Wertheim said Saturday that the city has no comment on the matter at this time. City Attorney Jon Paladini could not be reached for comment on whether the $35,000 payment must go to the Prescott City Council for approval.

Riley's attorneys did not respond to a request for a comment over the weekend.

The $35,000 stipulation is in addition to the more than $172,000 that the city had spent on the case in legal costs with an outside attorney through the end of March.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks

Related Stories:
• Letter: Newsmakers give Prescott a black eye
• Letter: Mayor should pay legal fees, resign
• Judge upholds sanctions in Riley case

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014
Article comment by: @both are wrong !!!

Riley is NOT wrong. She's defending herself from wrongful termination and protecting your rights to free speech. Pretty basic stuff.
How would any of this information have come out w/o a lawsuit? Lawsuits are the only recourse for the little guy to get their day in court. Don't try to scream for tort reform by making her and the ALCU lawyers the evil doers. ...

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014
Article comment by: Both are WRONG!!

So she thinks she was mistreated ... so lets fix by suing .... They both need to be gone ... Lets get some classy educated people to run some of these organizations and the city not just the status qua...
She did nobody any favors when she started suing the city she knew she was suing us taxpayers and ALL the people who donated to her YHS.. She knew exactly what she was doing and I am sure he did too! They have taken personal dislikes to a new level and we are paying for it ... Be GONE YOU TWO!!

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014
Article comment by: General Election Voting puts Local Cabal at Risk

Prescott City elections have always been held in the "off-years" from the national elections. These off-year elections attract fewer voters and have allow local special interests to load the ballot with their attractive Red, White and Blue candidates.

The State Legislature decided a few year back that local elections will soon be combined with the national/state elections. Not surprisingly, the local officials have resisted this ruling, not wanting their races to be held when 60% of the population votes. Stand-alone local elections gain about 20% voter turnout.

Low voter turnout always benefits the Special Interests. In the case of Prescott, the special interests are: Corporate Rancher/Developers and firms the feed off of Government contracts, uh Roads, Housing Construction. You know who the primary players are....

Voting is the key to changing the way City Hall acts. If you don't like the Mayor's focus, getting more voters to the polls will help affect the behavior of City Officials. Bottom line, Vote.

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: TO: KayAnne Riley

Your victories are great medication for mind and body . Many Thanks for Standing up for your rights - and that of so many others . T.S.

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Why is the city involved? Coming out of your pocket!

He should have never been elected the first time. Why people couldn't see what he was like is beyond me. He should resign or be recalled and the city should not have to pay for his defense. The taxpayers did not commit the offense, so why should they pay? (Because they elected him?)

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Dear 'Ipswich by the Sea'

You are wrong. There are not a majority of residents in the local far right wing Republican, growth at any cost, suck up to investor, developer, construction trades camp. There are more residents that are disgusted with the mayor's thoughtless, arrogant, bubba mentality actions, and with most of his council, too. They just are not organizes and many do not vote. Maybe this is the straw that will break the camel's back. Hope springs eternal.

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Joy Herhold

More than just a dumb move by the city, it shows the deep manipulation of the legal system to protect the insiders and this then has been done to others as well. We are calling for the termination of the lawyers who work for the city and do not have integrity. The Mayor is toast but the corrupt legal system can live on unless we speak up.

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Same old Song

There all the same, Jan Brewer constantly challenges the Feds knowing the state will lose, costing the taxpayer millions, why not no skin off her back: Meanwhile the anti Obama clowns do high fives not realizing their back pocket gets fleeced!

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Ricky Concerned

Of course the taxpayers are paying for it. Just like all of the other dumb moves that never get any real attention to where the money going to come from. It's I'm sure easy to spend when it's not coming out of your pocket. The tri city area for years has had some questionable actions that have cost the taxpayers tremendously and it just gets swept under the carpet. People need to really take note when they vote here. The good ole boys are not all in it for the people.

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Denver Risley

Most of Prescott is too complacent to do anything but complain. ... Next time concerned people organize in the square take it as a reminder of what a citizen's duty is instead of telling them to "get a job."

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Ipswich by the sea

The good ol' boys run this town, and there are more of them than there are of us. Despite all of this stuff going down, if Marlin Kuykendall were up for reelection tomorrow, he would still win in a walk. Rich businessmen and retired rich businessmen will vote for their own kind every time.

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: What is the Breaking Point?

How many more scandals and how much more legal fees will the voters here tolerate before they finally decide they are fed up with the good ole' boy network?
It appears that apathy runs rampant in Prescott.

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Remember When

Remember when the mayor actually spoke. Oh that was two mayors ago. Now we hear from the spin doctor city spokesman Wertheim on all issues.

A mayor that works 8 plus hours a day is not a mayor but a micro manager. Nearly all of the staff turnover is a direct result of this mayor. It is not just one department but all departments. It is a joke if you look only at the public safety areas. How many chiefs have we had.

A man with any moral fiber would resign but not Captain Kyook....

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Spending taxpayer money to defend the actions of government is wrong. A jury trial is called for. Let the facts play out in open trial and the people of Prescott "may" wake up on who they are electing based upon name recognition and support from the "good ole boys".

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Some animals more equal

According to A.R.S. 13-2407, destroying a public record is a class 6 felony. Who will make the arrest? Will Sheila Polk press charges?< br />
Mike Palmer

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Sir Walter Scott

Lest some citizens think this $35,000 is going to Ms. Riley personally, it is to reimburse her lawyers in part for the extra hours spent to find the proof of spoliation on Kuykendall's part.

Ms. Riley's settlement will be the result of the jury trial in Phoenix. This trial was to be held late this summer but has been delayed by the appeal filed by the City attorneys.

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: Prescott Voter

This city's leadership is unbelievable. They whine about money for art, money for children's education, money for needed services and then spend $35,000 of our tax dollars defending themselves in court for their corrupt behavior.

How many murals could this city have funded with that money?

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: Katie Elder

When has anyone LOST a lawsuit against the city of Prescott??? Not in the nine years we've lived here!

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

Once again, Prescott seems to have a voting problem. Luckily, this town is filled with 12 step programs. I believe you can find one on any given day. Note to Marlin: Don't be stupid. Lesson learned I hope.

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: @Did I miss Something

The question of KayAnne being fired will be determined at a jury trial which he has been trying to delay as long as possible.

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: To: 'bout time

And so should the council members who knew of his actions and condoned them. We need to know.

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by:

No you didn't. This is separate from Riley's suit claiming the Mayor (and maybe his council) had a strong hand in the Humane Society's firing her. That case has already cost Prescott, or the mayor personally, nearly $200,000. This is simply a reimbursement for Riley's attorney's fees for work made more difficult because the mayor or his friends erased his Emails relating to the firing. What a mess!

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: Noel Breen

it's simply time for a settlement in this matter. Instead the regime wants to spend taxpayer monies for a laundry list of small bore legal tactics, to delay the inevitable as long as possible. Why the voters of Prescott continue to tolerate this drama and public subsidize idiocy is beyond understanding.

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: This is an object lesson for our arrogant mayor and his sycophantic, flunky council.

And you really ought to (must) include Mic Fenech & Steve Norwood in the mix. You can bully and threaten and even fire weak, powerless people who disagree with you or don't genuflect quite low enough. But don't mess with a strong willed, brave, ex-Marine woman! You are out of your league.

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: Did I miss something?

OK, so he discarded the emails in question. What about the accusation of her being fired?

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