City attorney requests outside help with lawsuit
Cape City Attorney Dolores Menendez said her office needs outside help in litigating concerning a Golf Club lawsuit because the city currently has no litigation attorney.
Florida Gulf Ventures LLC, the owner of the former golf course, is suing the city because of, in part, allegations the city has removed unspecified minerals and water from the property subject to an oil, gas and mineral reservation; and inverse condemnation, according to an agenda request form on the city’s website.
Menendez hopes to retain law firm Roetzel and Andress for that purpose.
Roetzel and Andress currently represents clients with lawsuits against the city, so an approval from city council must also include a waiver and a disclosure of all conflicts.
Florida Gulf Ventures is seeking “substantial damages,” although Menendez did not specify what substantial damages implies.
Menendez told council that the nature of the lawsuit might require an outside firm to handle the case because of its unique nature even if her office had a litigation attorney.
“When you’re talking about legal service … you’re talking about the quality of the legal service you’re going to get,” Menendez said. “In these two cases, it would be in the best interest of the city and the public to retain the service of an outside council.”
Menendez is also seeking a waiver of a conflict of interest between Henderson, Franklin, Starnes and Holt, PA, and the city, so the city can represent SLV Coral Lakes for something called the “Andalusia Boulevard Agreement.” The firm represents the city in separate matters.
The attorney’s office recently hired a litigator but that individual quit within a week to pursue other opportunities.
While Menendez’s office continues to seek a full-time, staff litigator, Councilmember Marty McClain warned that not seeking the proper litigation team to defend the city could cause more harm in the long run.
“To lose a case like this would cost far more then to litigate it right. We want to make sure we have the right people doing the job,” McClain said.