Kentucky Property Owner Sues over Delinquent Fines Ad

July 6, 2011

A Jefferson County property owner has sued the Louisville Metro Council over an advertisement claiming he owed the city more than $12,000 in outstanding maintenance fines.

Warren Jackel, owner of Real Estate Specialists, filed suit Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court disputing that he owes the money and seeking general and punitive damages for “damage to his professional and personal reputation” from the advertisement.

The suit also names Jim Mims, director of the city’s Department of Codes and Regulations, and Tony Hyatt, a spokesman for the council’s Democratic caucus.

The full-page ad, which ran in The Courier-Journal Sept. 22, listed Jackel as owning five properties for which a combined $12,364.62 in property maintenance fines were unpaid.

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, who spearheaded the idea of the ad, told The Courier-Journal that Codes and Regulations had the responsibility of ensuring the accuracy of the ad and that the council only took the information from the department.

“We got the advice from other departments. We got the OK from the county attorney’s office,” Shanklin said. “We went through the procedure we were supposed to go through.”

Twenty-two council members paid for the ad with discretionary funds. The list, which was revised several times before publication, included 264 property owners and the amounts of their alleged fines totaling a combined $17.8 million for code violations or work such as boarding windows, cutting grass or cleaning lots at the vacant or abandoned properties.

Jackel, in the lawsuit, said the council members were liable “because they caused the publication.” The suit also says Mims is liable because he “prepared the list” that was published.

Hyatt is listed as a defendant because he was “complicit with all the other defendants,” the suit says.

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