A series of changes — new judge, new attorney and a new schedule — have occurred in the ongoing legal battle between the City of Delaware and a central Ohio developer.
The lawsuit, which claims the city’s water fees are discriminatory, was filed in the Southern Division of Ohio District Court by Seattle House LLC in June 2020 after it purchased 24.2 acres on the city’s east side across from Glennwood Commons and developed 240 one- and two-bedroom apartments on the property. In the developer’s complaint, it states the company had to pay fees totaling $1,917,883 to tap into the city’s water and sewer lines. The developer states it contracted an independent third party to investigate the fees and claimed the developer should have paid only $693,881.
The developer’s lawsuit went on to claim the fees the city charges to tap into its water and sewer lines violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and allege that the fees are leading to an affordable housing crisis within the city, as well as arguing that the fees are a form of racial discrimination.
The City of Delaware has filed several responses to Seattle House’s complaint and has disputed the claims made in the case, adding the allegations are “baseless.”
On July 28, the city filed a motion announcing its co-counsel in the case, David Moser, would be withdrawing from the case. He was replaced by Maribeth Meluch, an attorney from the same firm, Isaac Wiles & Burkholder LLC.
On Aug. 12, U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Preston Deavers filed an order recusing herself from the case, adding the case would be randomly assigned to another U.S. magistrate judge. The case was reassigned to Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura.
On Tuesday, the City of Delaware filed a joint motion with Seattle House asking to modify the case scheduling order.
“The parties are working together cooperatively and diligently to conduct the necessary discover in this matter,” the city’s motion said. “To that end, the parties have exchanged written discovery and continue to compile necessary documents relevant to the issues raised in this matter … The Parties will also need to schedule and conduct numerous depositions.”
The parties then asked for the schedule be amended to “allow sufficient time to complete discovery.”
Vascura granted the motion and set a new deadline for amended pleadings or the joining of additional parties for Nov. 3. Primary expert reports are due on April 4, 2022, and the rebuttal expert reports are due on May 4, 2022. The close of discovery deadline is June 8, 2022, and the dispositive motion deadline is Aug. 18, 2022.
There have been no filings in the case since the court dates were rescheduled.