Cornelius v Oconee dismissed

February 21, 2013

By action of a circuit judge, the second sewer lawsuit involving Susie Cornelius against Oconee County has been dismissed. A spokeswoman for the Common Pleas Court says Circuit Judge Lawton McIntosh dismissed the case this week for the reason “of failure to prosecute.” A proceeding in the case had been set before McIntosh in Walhalla Tuesday, but did not take place. And that prompted the judge to say he would make phone calls to determine what was going on. Filed in 2007, the lawsuit was filed by Greenville attorney James Carpenter for Cornelius, Rebecca Ballenger, and Minnie Owens, who has since died. It named as defendants Oconee County and the cities of Seneca and Westminster. The plaintiffs sought a judgment prohibiting the county from transferring the assets of the Oconee Sewer Commission to its modern-day replacement, the Joint Regional Sewer Authority. The suit asked for a ruling prohibiting the county from making its annual $600 thousand payment to the JRSA restricting the source of the funds to what the original sewer referendum in 1976 provided. As for Westminster, it contended that water customers outside the city may not be charged for funds to pay bonded indebtedness belonging to the city. It accused Seneca’s Light and Water of discriminatory pricing and fees. In the pre-trial stage, the lawsuit was classified “complex litigation” as the parties agreed that the allegations involved constitutional questions and a legal interpretation of the interplay between Home Rule and the state’s 1895 constitution. A few months earlier Dale Surrett, Oconee County administrator, called the lawsuit “rambling” and “frivolous.” In September 2008, Seneca was excused from the lawsuit.

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