Judge drops out of City Lines case
Updated at 2:19 p.m. Oct. 14 to correct information on how long Lund has presided in the case.
An Olmsted County District Court judge has recused himself from presiding over a Rochester City Lines and city of Rochester lawsuit due to a personal issue with a Rochester City Council member.
Judge Kevin Lund has heard the Rochester City Lines case since December. Previously, District Judge Joseph Chase presided, in 2012 and 2013. The case went to the Minnesota Supreme Court last year, and that court sent a portion of the case back to be heard again in Olmsted County.
Lund filed a notice of recusal with the court on Sept. 27, according to a court document.
"Despite having spent months familiarizing myself with this complex and important case, events over the past month or so have led me to conclude that I cannot be fair and impartial to the City of Rochester as it relates to the remaining trial issue," Lund wrote in the notice of recusal.
"More particularly, a member of the city council, who will be a key witness for both parties, has exhibited a decided lack of private and public candor and honesty as it relates to a development project directly impacting my family's home," he wrote. Lund lives in the Folwell neighborhood.
At a Post-Bulletin Dialogue meeting on June 27 , however, Lund had a heated exchange with City Council Member Michael Wojcik regarding the $110 million Alatus luxury apartment and retail project, proposed for the Folwell neighborhood by Saint Marys Hospital. The City Council has given preliminary approval to the project but final approval is pending.
Lund couldn't be reached for comment this morning. When contacted today by the Post Bulletin, Wojcik said he was aware of Lund's recusal but "I have no idea why, other than he is mad about Alatus."
In another court filing, Rochester City Lines has asked the city to delay the 2017 request for proposals process that will select an operator for the city's public transit system beginning Jan. 1, according to a city council document prepared by City Attorney Terry Adkins.
City Lines has objected to the city's request for proposals process, alleging it was wrongfully and unfairly prepared, according to a city document. An attorney representing the city dismissed that complaint. The company last month followed up its protest by filing a lawsuit in the Minnesota Court of Appeals challenging the dismissal. As part of that suit, City Lines asked for the city to agree to a stay that would suspend the selection process until the appeals court rules.
The city council had been scheduled to act on the request for proposals at its Monday meeting. The council now will have to decide whether it will agree to the stay, and it's required to hold a public hearing and receive testimony and statements before making its decision.
"The council has to take into consideration the existing vendor and the possibility to extend the existing contract and some other things that are tied up in the timing," said Justin Templin, a Special Assistant City Attorney handling the request for proposals matter.
Due to the long list of public hearings set for Monday's council meeting and the need for more preparation time, Adkins has suggested the city council delay the public hearing until Oct. 24.