Missoula County Pays $57,000 in Attorney’s Fees After Loss in Dunrovin Ranch Lawsuit
Since 2010, the Miller family has been dealing with multiple lawsuits from Missoula County over various aspects of the Dunrovin Ranch in Lolo. Back in March, Judge Ed McLean ruled that the most recent lawsuit, which claimed the Dunrovin Ranch was too small to be a small guest ranch under Montana law, was “frivolous” and said that Missoula County Attorneys had “acted in bad faith.” At the time, McLean awarded attorney’s fees to the Millers, but Suzanne Miller says the size of the check was a bit of a surprise.
“We got the check in the mail several days ago and the amount was $57,000 and it goes all the way back to the original complaint,” Miller said. “So the attorney’s fees do cover the entire complaint, not just the last ridiculous thing about us being “too small to be small” but went back to the time when they were trying to make us do the subdivision for lease or rent.”
The Millers say the cost of these lawsuits to both Missoula County and their family has been too high.
“If you think about this, really the county pays several times: they paid the salaries of the people that prosecuted us… and they spent a great deal of time running after us… so they paid that, and now they’re going to pay again because they have to pay our attorney’s fees,” Miller said. “But this in no way makes us whole. I lost an enormous amount of business, and if you just look at that $57,000, we took that out of our retirement account so we had to pay taxes on that, and now we have to pay taxes again. We have to pay taxes twice. We took that money out of our retirement account right before the big stock market boom, so we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars through this whole ordeal.”
When asked if she blamed anyone for the ordeal, Miller said “the buck stops at the county commissioner’s office.”
Chief Civil Deputy with the Missoula County Attorney’s Office Marnie McClain says the county attorney’s office found out about the$ 57,000 request for attorney’s fees in June.
“We considered it, and decided it was time to be done fighting about this,” McClain said.
McClain said that there is one more “wrap-up piece” to the lawsuit that needs to be processed, but also noted that she had spoken with the Miller’s attorney and that they had agreed that they were done.