Knox City Council Discusses Risner Lawsuit

The Knox City Council met this week with newly elected councilman Donald Kring taking the seat of 16-year council veteran Ed Blue.

One of the matters brought before the council at the meeting was a pending lawsuit from Edward Risner, who claims that the city breached a verbal contract when they refused to burn down his house as part of a training exercise. Mayor Rick Chambers told WKVI that Risner believes he had a verbal contract with the fire department to burn his house down, and use the opportunity as a training session.

However, the burn never took place because a number of permits from both IDEM and the city were never filed for, so Chambers stopped the fire department from conducting the burn.

As part of the lawsuit, Risner is asking for $40,000 to cover the cost of tearing the house down, which he says would have been hardly a quarter of that amount if the city had burned it down. But according to Chambers, the fire department did not burn the house down because it was in a very unsafe area and the proper permits were never filed.

The matter had previously been dismissed in federal court, but Risner has filed this case as a separate breach of contract against the Knox Fire Department, Chambers, the city council, Fire Chief Ken Pfost, and a number of other officials as well. Unfortunately, the city’s liability does not cover breaches of contract, so the city will need to hire legal counsel out of its own pocket.

City Attorney David Matsey told Chambers that his firm has offered to handle the matter for $120 per hour, at a discounted rate from their usual $200 per hour rate. Also, the city’s liability carrier had previously hired a legal firm for the case and the council will soon have to decide who will defend them against the suit.