A district judge canceled a hearing Friday between city officials and plaintiff Michael Ivy. The action came after Ivy's attorneys erroneously stated Ivy had reached an agreement with the city over his American with Disabilities Act lawsuit that closed Palestine's athletic stadium in September.
The court has not set a date for a new hearing on the stadium's ADA compliance, leaving the fate of the athletic complex, and area youth sports, in limbo.
If the complex remains closed, it will remove a major venue for hundreds of area children participating in sports, including the Anderson County Football League and little league baseball.
“We're trying to work it out,” Ivy's attorney, David Dunbar of Dunbar Monroe of Ridgeland, Miss., told the Herald-Press Tuesday. Ivy and Dunbar were no-shows at Friday's hearing.
“We're working with counsel for the city of Palestine to come to an agreement,” Dunbar said.
District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, however, admonished Dunbar Monroe for erroneously stating an agreement had been worked out between the plaintiff and interim City Attorney Jeff Herrington to drop the lawsuit because the city had pledged to keep the complex closed.
Herrington told the court the city had not agreed to that; the issue, he said, had never been broached.
Kernodle issued Dunbar Monroe an Order to Show Cause – a court order demanding the attorneys justify or explain their actions.
Dunbar took full responsibility for the error. The paperwork stating the city had agreed to the stipulations had been drawn up, he said, in anticipation of an agreement.
The agreement was never made. Dunbar said the document was supposed to be updated prior to it being sent to the court. He apologized for not reviewing the paperwork before submitting it to the court.
“I would never intentionally ignore the court's order for a hearing,” Dunbar said, asking leniency from the court.
Dunbar also reimbursed Herrington $1,000 for court costs and expenses for Friday's hearing. If the costs were more, he said, his firm would cover it.
The complex has served as a center for youth sports for nearly 40 years.
Calls made by the Herald-Press Monday to City Manager Leslie Cloer, and interim City Attorney Jeff Herrington were not returned.
Plaintiff Ivy, who uses a wheelchair, filed an official complaint when he was unable to secure a meeting with city officials last year to discuss possible renovations to make the complex more accessible to those with disabilities and ADA compliant.