The Inn at Little Washington’s lawsuit against local attorney David L. Konick will move forward, once Inn attorney David Fiske can specify damages caused by Konick’s legal actions against the Town’s largest landowner. Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker heard arguments from Konick and Fiske last Thursday (Jan. 7), and asked for Fiske to amend his pleadings on behalf of Patrick O’Connell and the Inn to specify damages resulting from Konick’s allegations of misconduct.
“Our goal is to hold Mr. Konick accountable for his actions,” said Fiske by phone Monday morning, discussing his motion Thursday to strike Konick’s a suit against the Inn, which was denied by Parker — though he will review the case again if Fiske can present damages Konick caused his client, within 21 days of the hearing. “I mean he’s filed a series of baseless lawsuits. It doesn’t stop . . . Let’s just say he seems to have an ample amount of time to spend on these things.”
Konick’s March 2015 lawsuit sought no monetary damages but requested the court to essentially invalidate the town’s 2013 actions — and for the Inn to return the $20,000 and the 171-foot stub end of Middle Street west of Main Street deeded from the town to the Inn. Konick further charged that O’Connell, also a Town Council member, violated state laws governing the actions of public officials whose private interests may be affected by a governing body’s actions.
Fiske described Thursday’s hearing as “a bit of legal sparring.” Essentially, the Inn is suing Konick for trying to sue them, charging that he broke the law in the process.
The Inn claims abuse of the legal process by Konick. The Rock Mills lawyer filed two complaints alleging that the Town and O’Connell violated the state Conflict of Interest Act and other Virginia laws by unlawfully transferring taxpayer funds and certain property to the the Inn, in the name of a “town beautification project.” Konick had also filed an amended complaint, and two memoranda of lis pendens against property owned by the Town and the Inn.
A memoranda of lis pendens is a notice filed in the office of public records that the ownership of property is the subject of a legal controversy and that anyone who purchases it takes it subject to any claims asserted in the action and thereby its value might be diminished.
Last April, O’Connell characterized Konick’s suit as “the culmination of years of resentment and hatred.” Fiske last year called Konick a “homophobe with a vendetta” against both the Inn and the openly gay O’Connell.
“If [O’Connell] hadn’t violated the Conflict of Interest Act by sending those emails to the Mayor back in 2013, there wouldn’t be any case,” Konick said in an interview Monday, referring to emails between Mayor John Fox Sullivan and O’Connell which discussed the town beautification project. “So if he’s suffered any kind of damage as a result of my filing the suit, it’s because of his own wrongful conduct, not because of my calling him to account for it, or rather me asking the court to call him to account for it.
Fiske said that he was satisfied with the outcome of Thursday’s hearing, noting that he and his clients will have 21 days to specify damages caused by Konick and the abuse of process. “But the key is that the case is going to go forward. And I’m sure Konick doesn’t want to acknowledge that. The fact is, he was none too happy with the result.”