Notoweega News

Magistrate recommends city officials be added to lawsuit

By DEBRA TOBIN Logan Daily News Reporter This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LOGAN — A U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Ohio has recommended additional public officials be added in a lawsuit between local resident Marshall Lucas, also known as Great Elk Dancer for his Elk Nation, and the City of Logan.

Magistrate Judge Mark R. Abel, who previously called the case “frivolous and malicious,” has filed a recommendation that the lawsuit continue against Logan City Mayor Martin Irvine, Logan Fire Chief Brian Robertson, Logan Police Patrolman Josh Mowery and Logan City Service Director Steve Shaw. In the magistrate’s first recommendation, Abel recommended all parties be dismissed with the
exception of Robertson.

In the court document, Abel denied a recent motion to strike filed by the city’s attorney, Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., L.P.A., and recommended the city’s motion for an extension of time to respond to the lawsuit be granted, meaning the four remaining in the lawsuit have until Sept. 13 to respond. The $20 million lawsuit has been an ongoing flow of paperwork filed in the district court since June. Lucas is asking the court for “injunctive relief and declaratory judgment as well as compensatory damages for the value of the business opportunity or expectancy that was lost as a result of the defendants’ tortuous and improper interference of his business.”

A total of 19 complaints were listed in the original lawsuit, but most were prior to June 12, 2011 and are barred by the statute of limitations, according to Abel.

Lucas, who believes he has been harassed since he first opened his business in Logan, the Mingo Trading Company, alleges that those mentioned in the suit have interfered with his commerce, all of which he describes as “tribal” businesses.

Although Lucas refers to his businesses, including Red Door Internet Café, as “tribal” businesses, supporters of a bill to ban Internet café businesses have argued that the 800 plus Internet cafes operating throughout the state are nothing more than illegal gambling operations.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and other law enforcement have referred to Internet cafes as being a home to illegal activity, including money laundering.

Lucas told The Logan Daily News in a previous interview that interfering with his commerce is a violation of the Greenville Treaty and the U.S. Constitution.

Dan Tierney, a spokesman and attorney with DeWine’s office, previously told The Logan Daily News that Ohio has no federally designated tribal land. “Nor is there any recognized treaty under which a Native American tribe holds land in Ohio. Therefore, the State of Ohio would retain jurisdiction,” he said.

The Internet Cafe House Bill 7 restricts the limit of payouts to $10, and will take effect on Sept. 4. Operators of Internet cafe businesses say the new bill will force them out of business due to the limit on payouts.

Abel’s first recommendation included language to remove the following officials from the lawsuit: Hocking County Common Pleas Court Judge John T. Wallace, City of Logan, Logan Police Chief Aaron Miller, Logan Police Lt. Gregg Cluley, Logan Police Officer Tony Byram, Hocking County Prosecutor Laina Fetherolf, Hocking County Assistant Prosecutor William Archer, Logan City Law Director Jonah Saving, former Logan City Law Director Bob Lilley and employees of the Hocking County Probation Office.

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