Fluoride Action Network

Lawyer says Davis County owes him $235,000 for his pro-fluoride work

Source: Davis County Clipper | Commissioners call Irvine’s bill excessive | August 11th, 2009 | By Melinda Williams
Location: United States, Utah

FARMINGTON — Davis County Commissioners will meet in a closed session Tuesday to discuss legal fees attorney David Irvine says he is owed for his work on the fluoride issue.

Irvine is threatening to return to court over $235,000 he said the county owes him for his work since 2002 with Utahns for Better Dental Health, a pro-fluoride group.

Last week, Davis County Commissioners postponed voting on the settlement during their regular commission meeting.

In 2000 voters approved fluoridating water by a narrow margin (except in Woods Cross).

However, after anti-fluoride groups challenged the outcome, it was placed back on the ballot. That second vote was prevented after pro-fluoride groups argued in court that the petition should have been filed as a referendum, not an initiative.

Originally Irvine, representing UBDH — Davis, requested $45,000 in attorneys’ fees, but 2nd District Judge Glen Dawson rejected the award in 2003, and the pro-fluoride group appealed the decision to the Utah Court of Appeals, which sent the case back to Dawson in August 2005. Irvine then appealed to the State Supreme Court, which ruled in 2007 that Davis County must reimburse Irvine.

Irvine said late last week that he anticipated the commission would accept a settlement proposal he offered in April, for less than the $235,000, but he believes a media report which surfaced in May, saying that a deal had been reached caused commissioners to walk away from it.

However, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the news report was not the reason for the delay in settlement. He said commissioners researched the bill and believe it to be excessive. Rawlings said the bill from attorneys representing the county through the appeals process amounted to $12,600. “It’s a huge inexplicable separation,” Rawlings said.

“The commissioners are on the horns of a dilemma,” he said. While commissioners know Irvine is owed some money, they don’t want to pay what they believe is an inflated amount, Rawlings said. But they also understand that if the issue is litigated, the county could wind up paying more in legal fees than Irvine is saying he is owed.

Rawlings is still hopeful Irvine and the county can settle.

Irvine said he only included his fees and costs through Jan. 1, 2005. “Now there’s a considerable amount of added expense.”

He said, “the meter is still running,” adding he plans “absolutely” to return to court. “We will probably be back at the Supreme Court.”