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Ord man sues the city for filing lawsuit against him over letters to city officials

Ord man sues the city for filing lawsuit against him over letters to city officials

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An Ord man is suing the town for his attorney fees and is seeking punitive damages for filing a lawsuit against him last year to try to get him to stop writing letters and emails to city officials and the police department that they called "burdensome."

The city lost the suit. Now, Guy Brock is suing them.

In the lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court of Nebraska in Lincoln, Brock's attorney, J.L. Spray, said during the last decade Brock has had a practice of writing letters to the city of Ord and its elected representatives related to city government. 

On March 4, 2020, the city filed a lawsuit against him in Valley County District Court seeking a restraining order or an injunction to stop him from "sending communication of any kind to the City of Ord and the Ord Police Department unless directly related to a city service or other city function related specifically to the Defendant and his property," City Attorney Heather Sikyta wrote in the complaint. 

She said Brock's letters and emails had "increasingly become harassing and burdensome" to the city and the police department. 

In them, he alleged wrongful conduct by city officials, employees and police officers that she said either were unfounded or had already been handled internally.

On Oct. 21, 2019, Ord Police Chief Jay Welch sent a letter to Brock telling him his constant harassment must stop.

But Brock kept writing, Sikyta said. First on Dec. 5, 2019, to Mayor Dan Petska about a ballot initiative regarding police services. Then, on Jan. 29, 2020, to Welch asking about a traffic stop earlier that month. 

She said unless the judge stopped Brock, he would cause "great and irreparable" damage to the reputation of elected officials, city employees and their family members.

On May 12, 2020, Valley County District Karin L. Noakes granted Brock's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, finding that the facts the plaintiff alleges were "insufficient as a matter of law."

In the lawsuit filed this week, Brock sued the city, the mayor and city attorney alleging they retaliated against Brock for exercising free speech and petitioning his elected and appointed representatives. 

Spray said Brock was forced to hire an attorney at his own expense "in order to defend his rights to speak freely and to petition his government."

He said Brock's letter-writing was protected by the First Amendment, and the city's actions were meant to chill Brock and others from engaging in constitutionally protected activities. 

"By virtue of his rights to freedom of speech and to petition his government, Mr. Brock has a clearly established right to be free from suits filed against him by state actors attempting to restrain those rights or retaliate against him for exercising those rights," Spray wrote in the new lawsuit. 

He is seeking $2,686 that Brock spent on attorney fees, plus punitive damages to punish the city. 

Sikyta didn't return a request for comment on the lawsuit. 

Ord is a town of 2,300 people about 60 miles northwest of Grand Island. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

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