Verdict expected in late spring or summer in Shodeen, Mill Creek water district trial
A long-running dispute between prominent Geneva developer Kent Shodeen and a water reclamation district could be resolved by late spring or early summer when a judge is expected to deliver his verdict in the December trial, according to an attorney in the lawsuit.
The Mill Creek Water Reclamation District sued Shodeen in 2014, asking a judge void a 1995 lease agreement because two of Shodeen's relatives and an employee were on the district's board when the agreement was signed. The district also argues Shodeen improperly profited from its creation.
Shodeen countersued the district, seeking payment for some 160 million gallons of reclaimed wastewater used to irrigate the Mill Creek and Tanna Farms golf courses each year.
Shodeen's attorneys argue the district agreed in a 1995 lease to pay a yearly fee to discharge reclaimed water from lagoons that treat wastewater and sewage from the nearly 2,000-home development in Geneva and Blackberry townships.
A bench trial was held before Judge Mark Pheanis in December. Before rendering a verdict, Pheanis asked that a trial transcript be prepared. Both sides submitted additional legal briefs in support of their respective cases Friday, and attorneys have until April 15 to file replies and rebuttals, according to court records.
A date for Pheanis to deliver his verdict has not been set, but Tim Reuland, attorney for the water district, said it could be in late spring or early summer.
"There's a lot of complex issues in the case," Reuland said Tuesday.
Shodeen paid about $8 million to create the district, which relied on large swaths of land, prairie plants and other natural means to filter waste instead of a traditional water treatment plant, which has more bricks-and-mortar infrastructure on a smaller area.
Shodeen sold the system to the newly formed water reclamation district in 1995 for about $6.5 million. Attorneys from the water district have argued Shodeen has reaped some $2.3 million since the sale of the system through connection fees, rate increases and annexations, which is in excess of the $1.5 million allowed.
Shodeen attorneys oppose the water district seeking damages by arguing breach of contract. "Now, after the trial has ended, the district is trying to reinsert a money damages claim into its case," Shodeen attorney Adam Hirsch wrote last month.
Water district attorneys argue the breach of contract claim is a "discretionary choice" to remove itself from the 1995 lease agreement.