A Rose Street man has filed a lawsuit against the City of East Ridge and three employees over issues relating to codes enforcement.
Jeffrey Scott Widby filed the suit on February 25 in Hamilton County Circuit Court against the City, acting City Manager Kenny Custer, Terrie Robertson and Charlie Ritchey alleging he is being harassed by codes officials which is adversely affecting his health as he has uncontrollable diabetes.
Widby told East Ridge News Online that he has dealt with codes enforcement officials over the years regarding violations and each and every time he has complied.
“I would like to comply this time,” he said. “I just can’t physically do it.”
Widby said since he moved to the rental house in 2009, he had been cited nine separate times by codes officials. Up until this year, Widby said, he was given a citation allowing for him to come into compliance within 10 days. If he took the steps to comply, no further action would be required.
In the latest instance, Widby received a certified letter ordering him to appear before the East Ridge Housing Commission on March 11. According to the housing commission agenda, “the dwelling has sustined damage due to neglect. City is asking that the dwelling be demolished, and the property cleaned up.”
Widby said that board members were “lenient” with him and the house owner Terry Poss in last night’s meeting. He said the commission wants the house to be painted. They also asked that Widby allow codes enforcement personnel be given access to the inside of the house for a complete inspection.
Widby said he filed a restraining order against codes enforcement officials when he filed the lawsuit in circuit court.
“I’m not gonna let them in,” he said.
East Ridge City Attorney Mark Litchford said on Monday that he was aware of the suit having been filed and the City will respond to the suit within the 30-day time period. Litchford said he would make no comment on any pending litigation.
In the complaint, Widby, who is representing himself in the case, states that the defendants violated laws of due process, infringement of civil rights and civil liberties.
He alleges the City of “violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to acknowledge that the plaintiff has progressively worked to accommodate the codes of the City of East Ridge and had notified Mr. Custer of the disability the plaintiff is now dealing with.”
In his complaint Widby asks the court to recuse City Attorney Litchford from the case “due to publicly made statements concerning Mr. Custer and (he) will be called as a witness in the case.”
The complaint goes on to explain Widby’s uncontrolled diabetes. He states that he does not exhibit the normal signs of low blood sugar. “Doctors inform me that the worst possible thing to cause blood sugar fluctuations is stress,” he writes. “And undoubtedly, the ‘authoritative’ conglomeration of the Codes and Housing Commission have caused extensive undue stress and permanent damage to my nerves and brain functions, and I am requesting relief.”
Widby is asking the court for $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million punitive damages.