An odd confluence of political history and legal opinions on a 9-year-old complaint emerged at Tuesday's Wichita City Council meeting.
Former Mayor Bob Knight advocated that the city help Mark Gietzen get paid for damages made to his home when Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co. pounded bridge pillars into the ground near 55th South and Mosley in 2000.
Wichita City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf said it's not the city's responsibility.
He said Gietzen sued Dondlinger and his homeowners insurance company only to have the court dismiss the suits.
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Knight said he and others assured Gietzen in 2000 that any damages to his home would be fixed.
"I don't think there's any question in my mind that somebody owes Mr. Gietzen a significant amount of money," Knight told council members. "He is caught, I think, in a Catch-22."
That catch involves a city contract that makes Dondlinger responsible for any damages to nearby homes related to the construction work. But Gietzen said that doesn't specify when those repairs need to be made — allowing a two-year statute of limitations to run out.
Gietzen, head of the Kansas Coalition for Life, an anti-abortion group, said Dondlinger's insurance company offered a settlement of $762 to cover heating and water line damage when there were also structural problems that totaled $96,000 in damage.
Now Gietzen and Knight want the city to step in.
Mayor Carl Brewer, who had Knight at his side when he ran for mayor in 2007, said the city would look into it even though its legal department has said the city has no responsibility.
"Let's see what we can possibly do," Brewer said.
Vice Mayor Jim Skelton and council members Sue Schlapp and Paul Gray also advocated the city review the situation.
Skelton said he visited the home five years ago after Gietzen confronted the council. He said he saw no clear signs of damage.
"What I see is a case that's 10 years old, it's been dismissed by the court twice, and he's been fined for filing frivolous motions," he said.
Still, Skelton said he'd examine any new information if it becomes available — though he said he thinks "it's a shot in the dark" that anything substantial will emerge.
Gray said that regardless of the legal aspect, "there's still ethical responsibility there."