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Rocky River Eyes Appeal to Dog Park Ruling

City has 30 days to challenge judge's decision.

Last week, a Cuyahoga County judge following a lawsuit filed by Rocky River about Lakewood’s nearby dog park.

Now, Rocky River is considering an appeal.

“We haven’t decided what to do,” said Michael J. O'Shea, Rocky River’s assistant law director. “We’ve got to think about it.”

The city has 30 days from the last Tuesday’s ruling to figure it out.

O’Shea said he disagrees with the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Friedland’s ruling.

“I honestly don’t know what the judge didn’t like (about) the lawsuit,” he said. “I know this judge, and I like her, but I strongly disagree with the rationale about the facts.”

The lawsuit was filed in 2007 on behalf of Rocky River and four of its residents, upset by the noise at .

Friedland found that the dog park, opened in 2003, is not a nuisance and denied Rocky River's request for an injunction to close the park. 

 The lawsuit stemmed from complaints from four nearby residents about noise from dogs at the park barking. About 10 neighbors of the park — located at 1299 Metropark Drive — testified in the case.

After weighing the evidence,” Friedland wrote, “the court concludes that evidence presented does not support a finding that the dog park is a private nuisance.”

In the three-year-long case,  paid “less than $4,000” in legal fees, which included the city’s share of a $5,000 noise study, Claussen said, adding that Lakewood’s legal work on the case was done in-house.

Michael Thomas, Rocky River’s finance director, said the lawsuit cost his city $21,602. The involved residents have been footing legal bills for the case since May at the city's attorney rate of $100 an hour.

Asked if he was eager to put the case behind him, O’Shea offered no assurance that the case was over.

“There’s no closure for these poor people who have to listen to these dogs park all day,” he said. “I don’t have a neighbor who have been has rude as these people at that dog park. I know of no good neighbor who would do that to someone else.”

Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers had a different opinion on the case’s outcome. “The judge did a good job of summarizing the facts in her ruling,” he said, pointing out that Lakewood tried to accommodate Rocky River early on in the case.

Lakewood’s earlier proposal to settle the issue by building an $80,000 sound barrier is now off the table. Rocky River had asked that the dogs also be muzzled.

O’Shea referred to Lakewood’s actions in the case the “epitome of rudeness.”

“We just wish that Lakewood would have operated in better faith, and they didn’t,” he said. “We were forced into this case — a place we never wanted to be.”

Chris February 07, 2011 at 11:30 PM
So now RR will spend more money on a frivolous suit. Bravo.
Kelly G. February 08, 2011 at 12:31 AM
"...I strongly disagree with the rationale about the facts." It sounds to me that Mr. O'Shea must have been speaking about a case other than the dog park case. Once the sound study was conducted, the facts seemed pretty clear to me. The conclusion of the sound study was: "that the dog barking was quieter than the planes flying overhead, motorcycles driving through the valley and on nearby streets, and the traffic on I-90; even the wind registered louder than the dog barks." and Mr. O'Shea's comment to that was: "Somebody must've got to this guy" ("This guy" being the scientist that conducted the study). Sigh, go ahead and spend more money Mr. O'Shea! Your wonderfully sound and logical arguments deem that you know what you are doing, so go ahead a waste more money, I'm sure the Rocky River tax payers don't mind.
pam ghaster February 16, 2011 at 12:58 PM
The only pockets that made out in this deal is O'Shea. I want a full accounting of this frivilous law suit. You had me at the sound test. O'Shea is a bull dog with total disregard for the law. He is being sued in Federal court(which was dropped and being refilled this week in state and federal) and just lost in the 8th court of appeals. Rough week buddy.

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