JACKSONVILLE — A Jacksonville couple are accusing a city councilor of abusing her position and misrepresenting herself in a transaction with the city in a suit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Steve and Heather Kominsky have entered a complaint against Councilor Jocie Wall and her husband, Steven, over issues surrounding a residence they leased from the Walls at 490 S. Oregon St.
The Kominskys allege withholding of a security deposit, bad faith, wrongful entry, breach of contract, assault, infliction of emotional distress and conditions affecting habitability of the unit. They seek monetary awards for damages in the suit, filed July 16.
In a May 3 letter to Steve Kominsky, city Utility Clerk Beverly Smith wrote that Jocie Wall told her the Kominskys as tenants were responsible for the water billing through May 31. The Kominskys had closed the account on April 30. In the letter, Smith said she would reopen the account in their names at Wall's direction. But Smith later told the Mail Tribune that upon further reflection, she did not make the change. (Corrected from earlier version.)
The suit claims the clerk would not have reopened the account in the Kominskys' names had Wall not abused her position as a council member and held herself out as the plaintiff's agent.
Wall declined to comment on the case and directed a reporter to contact her attorney, Allen Drescher of Ashland. When contacted Thursday afternoon, Drescher said the Walls' defense has been tendered to their insurance company, Allstate, and that he was no longer involved.
"This claim, in my opinion, is totally without merit," said Drescher, who has known the Walls for a number of years.
"They are truly responsible and civic-minded individuals," Drescher said.
Steve Kominsky directed questions to his attorney, Noel Kersey of Klamath Falls. Kersey said he has no comments at this time and that the complaint "speaks for itself."
The plaintiffs vacated the property on April 17 after giving 33 days' notice on March 28. The couple had initially leased the house in July 2011.
The suit alleges the property was uninhabitable because of a leaking roof, mold, rat feces in the basement, unreliable heating, vermin and unsafe wood floors. Attempts were made to cure some issues but the Walls increasingly resisted performing repairs, the complaint states.
Steve Kominsky alleged he felt physically threatened by Steven Wall during a discussion at the Walls' residence on March 27.
The suit also claims that after Steve Kominsky on March 28 gave the Walls notice of termination of the lease, Steven Wall entered the residence without notice and forced Heather Kominsky, via intimidation and threat, to sign an agreement changing lease terms and listing move-out conditions.
On May 6, the suit states, Jocie Wall followed Steven Kominsky and his children from downtown to their new residence and stared down Kominsky for an uncomfortable period of time.
Judgments sought by the Kominskys include: $2,050, representing twice the amount withheld from a security deposit; $3,450 for three instances of wrongful entry; $2,400 for moving costs incurred due to the breach of lease; and costs and legal fees. The Kominskys also seek damages for assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and misrepresentation.
Wall was elected to the council in November 2012. She has lived in Jacksonville for 13 years.
Oregon's Government Ethics Commission staff officials said there had been no ethics violation complaints against Wall.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.