Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image An "Erda' sign on state Route 36. A district court judge denied a request to dismiss a lawsuit that could lead to the disincorporation of Erda.

November 16, 2022
Judge allows case against Erda incorporation to proceed

A 3rd District Court judge has denied Erda City’s request to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges the city’s existence.

Third District Court Judge Teresa Welch denied a motion from attorneys for Erda City and the lieutenant governor to dismiss a lawsuit that asks that the incorporation of  Erda be declared invalid because of deficiencies in the incorporation process.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys for John Bleazard, Mark Bleazard and Six Mile Ranch Corporation in February 2022.

In their motion for dismissal, the attorneys for Erda City and the lieutenant governor listed six claims to support their request. After hearing arguments from attorneys from both sides, Welch found that there was no basis to dismiss the complaint in a written ruling issued on Oct. 27.

One of the claims for dismissal involved the delay in filing the lawsuit.

Welch cited Utah Code that states “notwithstanding any other provision of the law, a municipality is conclusively presumed to be lawfully incorporated and existing if, for two years following the municipality’s incorporation … no challenge to the incorporation of the municipality has been filed in the district court for the county in which the municipality is located.”

In regards to the other reasons for dismissal, Welch said the complainants do meet requirements for standing and have sufficiently pleaded facts including harm to support their claim. 

However, Welch found that three legal points raised by the defendants as reasons for dismissal — res judicata [a matter that has been adjudicated by a competent court and may not be pursued further by the same parties], equitable doctrines, and substantial compliance — were not appropriate to be raised in the motion for dismissal stage.

Six Mile Ranch and the Bleazards, who are both minority shareholders of Six Mile Ranch, contend that sponsors of the incorporation of Erda made material misrepresentations about Six Mile’s consent to the feasibility study and incorporation petition. Without those misrepresentations, the feasibility study and the petition for the incorporation would have failed, according to the complaint.

John and Mark Bleazard assert that they signed both the feasibility study and incorporation petition only for their personal property in Erda, not for Six Mile Ranch.

The Bleazards claim they were not shown a map of the proposed Erda City at the time they signed the petitions, contrary to state code, and did not know that Six Mile Ranch was a part of the proposed Erda City.

“Six Mile Ranch has not consented to any request for feasibility study and has not consented to incorporation into the City of Erda,” reads the complaint.

The complaint alleges that the sponsors of the Erda incorporation petition altered the request for a feasibility study to indicate that John and Mark Bleazard signed on behalf of Six Mile Ranch.

Furthermore, the complainants also assert that City of Erda’s paperwork for incorporation with the Lt. Governor’s Office was not submitted within the statutory timeline because they failed to include an approved local entity plat map by Dec. 16, 2021. Erda’s failure to meet the deadline should have invalidated the incorporation, according to the complaint.

The denial of the request for dismissal allows the case to continue its way towards a jury trial.

 

Tim Gillie

Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim has been writing for the Transcript Bulletin since October 2017. In February 2019 he was named as editor. In addition to being editor, Tim continues to write about Tooele County government, education, business, real estate, housing, politics and the state Legislature.A native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University, Tim became a journalist after a 20 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

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