ASOTIN — A Whitman County judge lifted a temporary injunction against Asotin County on Monday afternoon, allowing work to continue along Snake River Road near Ten Mile Bridge.
At an expedited hearing, Superior Court Judge Gary Libey “dissolved” a temporary restraining order filed on behalf of Rich and Shannon Eggleston last week. The judge said the injunction was invalid and should not have been granted by Superior Court Commissioner Jane Richards.
“The injunction was premature, and I’m dismissing it,” Libey said.
Clarkston attorney Todd Richardson, who is representing the Egglestons, appeared before the judge in his Colfax courtroom. Asotin County’s attorney, Jerry Moberg, weighed in telephonically from his office in Ephrata, and the proceeding was recorded in Asotin County with a few county officials listening in Superior Court.
The Egglestons and Asotin County have been at odds for almost two decades over Ten Mile Bridge and construction on Snake River Road near the couple’s residence and former business. The latest disagreement concerns a small project that came to a halt last week when a stop-work order was issued.
The Public Works Department was in the process of making stormwater improvements to address runoff issues, and the project was expected to take about three days. The Egglestons said the work would cause irreparable harm to their property and should not move forward.
Asotin County’s legal counsel objected to the work delay, saying the injunction was approved by Richards after court hours and contained numerous procedural errors. The order was signed before the case was filed, without notice, and lacked proper affidavits and a bond amount, Moberg said.
In addition, the Egglestons failed to establish a firm basis for “immediate and irreparable harm,” which is the primary requirement for a last-minute stop-work order, Moberg said.
Richardson told the judge his clients were notified about the project on Sept. 6 while he was in Italy. The Egglestons believe the work will damage their property, the attorney said, and with crews slated to begin the following week, he had no other choice than to ask for an injunction when he returned from his trip early last week.
“The county rented a hall, hired a band, and now they’re complaining we showed up to dance,” Richardson said.
The Clarkston attorney said he contacted Richards at her Asotin office on the evening of Sept. 10, and the paperwork was filed Sept. 11 after several errors were corrected. He didn’t have time to go to Walla Walla or Colfax to get another judge’s signature, so Richardson said he called upon a local court commissioner.
In court documents filed Friday, Asotin County’s attorney said Richards was represented by Richardson in a prior court action and should have voluntarily recused herself from the case.
“I’m going to be the only judge working on this,” Libey told the attorneys.
Moberg said the improvements are all contained within public right of way and will not cause any damage to the Egglestons’ property. The work is part of a “good faith attempt to prevent stormwater runoff from entering” their land.
Richardson argued the stormwater work will narrow his clients’ driveway, which runs along the right of way. Water has been running down the Egglestons’ property for six years, the county has done nothing to repair it, and the latest attempt won’t solve the problem, he said.
After listening to both attorneys, Libey said the temporary restraining order was flawed and signed without a verified complaint. The county can work on the right of way, and if it somehow damages the Eggleston property, the couple has legal options.
Richardson objected to the ruling, saying he sent documents to Libey on Monday that were not thoroughly reviewed.
“I believe you are factually uninformed,” he told the judge.
Sandaine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.