Multi – Million Dollar Mountain Water Case Now in the Hands of Judge Karen Townsend
Attorneys on both sides of the Mountain Water Condemnation lawsuit used their most persuasive closing arguments Monday evening as they attempted to convince District Judge Karen Townsend that their side should prevail.
Since the day's arguments did not begin until 3:00 p.m. the attorneys finally wrapped up their statements just before 7:00 p.m. in Missoula District Court.
At issue is the question of whether the City of Missoula proved beyond a reasonable doubt that acquiring the privately owned Mountain Water Company is in the best interests of the citizens.
For the city, Harry Schneider walked Judge Townsend painstakingly through nearly every witness, ticking off the points made during their testimony. During his rebuttal argument, Schneider used a compelling image to portray the amount of water lost through leakage in the present Mountain Water system in just one year's time. He used the familiar image of Washington Grizzly Stadium, with a total of 85,000 square feet, and how high the water would tower over the stadium.
"At the end of the year, that column of water above the football field, to account for all the lost water would have to be two point four two miles in the air," he said.
For Mountain Water, labor attorney Gary Zadick urged Judge Townsend to take into account how the employees of Mountain Water would be harmed by a decision for the city.
"What we have here, your honor, is the undisputed testimony of the record, that my clients will be harmed," Zadick said. "The city just hasn't answered what the Supreme Court said the last go-round, you can't harm them. If the city intends to negotiate off of what they have now as far as pay matrix and benefits for the remainder of their employment terms, they are harmed, and that prevents the city's ownership from being more necessary."
In closing, Schneider appealed directly to Judge Townsend.
"Our courts are wonderful institutions, state and federal," he said. "You can walk through those doors and if you have a just cause, you get a just result. That's all the city seeks, a just result and the opportunity to pay just compensation for the water system."
Judge Townsend gave each side two weeks to submit written briefs before she would make a decision.
Both sides have already indicated that no matter what the decision, the case would be appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.