After a plaintiff’s motion to drop four causes of action against Oakdale Irrigation District Director Gary Osmundson in a politically charged lawsuit, lawyers for the Division Five director have requested the court to award legal fees garnered to defend the matter.
California law allows the court to award fees incurred to a plaintiff or defendant who prevails in litigation.
In May the Oakdale Groundwater Alliance, a coalition of Louis Brichetto and Robert Frobose, amended their original lawsuit naming Osmundson as a defendant in their original challenge to OID’s On-Farm Conservation Program.
The causes of action in the suit, numbers two through five, centered on Osmundson’s participation and voting in the program. Those actions accused him of a conflict of interest and other illegalities.
In preparation for his defense, Osmundson hired attorneys George Soares and Ann Grottveit of Sacramento.
According to a writ filed in Stanislaus County Superior Court, Soares’ office billed Osmundson $14,892.50 for over 42 hours of work for services related to the case which included research, peremptory challenges, meet and confer conferences and court appearances.
On June 30 during pre-trial motions, attorneys for Osmundson served the Oakdale Groundwater Alliance discovery requests and five days later the Alliance filed a request to dismiss Osmundson from the lawsuit rather than produce requested materials.
In the motion, Osmundson’s attorneys are claiming that since the causes were voluntarily dropped by the plaintiff, case law rules that he prevailed and can be awarded attorney fees by a judge.
When contacted about his motion to recover costs, Osmundson said he was going to refrain from commenting due to the matter pending to be heard in court.
Osmundson’s request is scheduled to be heard in Stanislaus County Superior Court on Sept. 7 at 8:30 a.m.
In previous articles, Osmundson has said state guidelines allowed him to participate in OID’s programs offered to customers and he had checked with both OID and his personal attorneys for a legal opinion prior to participating or voting on the On-Farm Conservation Program.
The Oakdale Groundwater Alliance lawsuit against OID has seen evolving issues in the court system from OID initially getting a ruling in their favor declining to halt a controversial sale and then two OID directors, Gail Altieri and Linda Santos, who had cast dissenting votes, providing sworn declarations to the opposing counsel to then get it stopped. As a result of the two directors providing confidential information, a restraining order was later issued by the court barring Altieri and Santos from the lawsuit discussions.
In July, OID declined to pay the personal attorney fees for the two directors who tried to quash the restraining order so they could continue to have them included in discussions.