By Kay Braddock
Michael and Terry Karrels filed a counterclaim in District Court last month for abuse of process against Prairie County commissioner Todd Devlin. The 10-page counterclaim lists Todd Devlin, individually and as a county commissioner and Prairie County as defendants.
The counterclaim was included along with the Karrels 30-page response to the county’s complaint, filed in District Court in September, against the Karrels seeking public access to Scenic View Road.
Prairie County filed a motion to dismiss the Karrels’ counterclaim last week, according to Prairie County attorney Becky Convery.
The counterclaim states, “Prairie County pounced upon the opportunity to prey upon the Karrels’ unfortunate situation and emotional distress” by serving the Karrels with complaint papers in “a marked sheriff’s vehicle” shortly after the death of “their friend and attorney” Lance Tonn.
Tonn, who had represented the Karrels in their legal battle with the county over the seven-mile dirt road north of Terry, died in September. The counterclaim notes the county served the Karrels with complaint papers less than two weeks after Tonn’s death.
The counterclaim also asserts the county is seeking a declaratory judgment, preliminary and permanent injunction and damages and attorney fees against the Karrels ”for claims it knows to be without merit.”
“As a result of Prairie County’s, its Commissioners’, and Todd Devlin’s actions and abuse of process, the Karrels have suffered damages including, but not limited to emotional distress and attorney fees in amounts to be proven at trial on the matter,” the document states. The actions of the county and Todd Devlin, individually “were malicious and of such a character and nature as to warrant an award of punitive damages,” the document states.
A December 21 conference has been scheduled to set upcoming dates in District Court.