With a hearing scheduled for Monday, July 20, in Superior Court in Stamford, a flurry of legal motions and objections has taken place over the past week by attorneys for Sensible Wilton and the Wilton Board of Selectmen.
The legal action began last week when Sensible Wilton, through its attorney Simon W. Reiff of Harwood Reiff LLC in New York City, suggested the town was trying to delay proceedings and in the process cripple Sensible Wilton’s case.
Sensible Wilton filed suit against the Wilton Board of Selectmen June 1 to compel the selectmen to call a special town meeting to vote on whether to repeal the $50-million bonding authorization for temporary mandamus.
A writ of mandamus is a means by which the court may direct someone to act in a way in which they are legally obligated.
The bond authorization was narrowly approved by voters at a special town meeting and adjourned vote in September 2014. Sensible Wilton claims voters did not have complete information on the project and that town officials violated election laws leading up to the vote.
Sensible Wilton’s attorney, on July 9, filed a “partial and conditional objection” to a request by Monte E. Frank of Cohen and Wolf in Danbury, representing the selectmen, to refer the case to the Complex Litigation Docket. The board’s request was dated June 24.
The Complex Litigation Docket was established in Connecticut to resolve the most challenging civil cases. According to the state website, these cases generally involve multiple litigants, legally intricate issues or claims for damages that could total millions of dollars.
In the board’s request to refer the case, Frank argued the case involves a “complex interplay of Wilton’s charter, municipal financing and state election law.”
Sensible Wilton’s objection involved the timeliness of a resolution to the complaint. Cases in the Complex Litigation Docket are heard by only a handful of judges in three districts: Hartford, Stamford and Waterbury.
If a judge were not available on July 20, the date the court is scheduled to hear the Board of Selectmen’s motion to dismiss and Sensible Wilton’s motion for the special town meeting, a delay of even a few weeks “would be harmful or even fatal” to Sensible Wilton’s case, Reiff argued.
That is because the Miller-Driscoll renovation project will be put out to bid within a matter of months, and that would make the lawsuit moot, he said.
Judge Linda Lager denied the request to move the case to the Complex Litigation Docket on Monday, July 13.