Judge: No attorney fees for Marchus


— Routt County will not have to pay attorney fees and court costs to former chief building official Mark Marchus for a lawsuit the county brought against him, a judge ruled last week.

In that case, the county charged that Marchus had two missing duplicates of personnel files. The case was settled outside of court, along with a second case Marchus brought against the county claiming that his termination a year ago and the county's subsequent actions were unconstitutional and went against county policies. In the November settlement, Marchus dismissed his complaint and the county dismissed its, and the county was not required to pay any money in connection with the suit.

But the question of whether the county should pay Marchus attorney fees and other costs remained.

Marchus argued that the county should pay him fees and costs because its case was "frivolous, groundless or vexatious," but last week, Senior Judge Edwin Ruland ruled that the case was none of those things.

Marchus removed nine personnel files from his office when he left, and returned those when the county asked, Ruland's order said. It is legitimate to infer that Marchus could know where the two files that still were missing could be, the order said, and so the case was not frivolous or groundless.

The case was not vexatious, which means it was not brought to annoy or harass another party, because the county is obligated to protect the confidential information that personnel files contain, the order said.

Marchus' attorney, Charles Feldmann, could not be reached for comment.

Marchus was fired in February on allegations that he did not create a good working environment at the department and violated county gift polices. Marchus has denied those allegations.

Marchus previously said the county's case cost him $15,000 to $20,000 in legal fees, and that between both cases, he spent more than $30,000 in legal fees.

Carl Dunham has served as interim chief building official during the litigation and continues to serve in that position as the county looks for a permanent replacement.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com


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