Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Alternative Attorney Hired in Keene Case

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Alternative Attorney Hired in Keene Case

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- For the second time, the Clay County

Commission on Tuesday hired an outside counsel to defend the

county against a controversial lawsuit filed by Clerk of Court

John Keene.

The latest attorney selected to handle the county's defense is

Warren C. Tripp of Jacksonville.

Tripp replaces Charles Arnold, Jacksonville's former top city

lawyer, who the commission selected for the job last month.

Arnold withdrew Monday because he and his firm represent some

of the plaintiffs in a case that named Clay County as one of

more than 200 governmental, corporate and military defendants.

That lawsuit alleges that the defendants years ago sent waste to

the Pickettville Road Landfill in Jacksonville, but have not

contributed to cleanup costs for what is now known as one of the

worst hazardous waste sites in the nation. The cleanup cost is

expected to total $15 million.

Clay County has agreed, without admitting guilt, to settle the

case for $10,000 to avoid an expensive and time-consuming

litigation. Arnold said that, when he accepted the Keene case,

he thought the Pickettville Road settlement with Clay County had

been finalized. He has not been personally involved with that

part of the landfill case.

But Arnold said he discovered last week that the settlement had

not yet been executed. As a result, "it would be inappropriate

for our firm to undertake the representation of Clay County at

this time," he said in a Monday memo to County Attorney Mark

Scruby.

Scruby said he supported Arnold's decision.

"It creates too difficult a problem for him and for us," he

said. "He can't have Clay County as a client . . . and at the

same time be actively working against Clay County in seeking a

settlement."

Commissioners said they were disappointed because Arnold's

experience in governmental law would have been a plus in the

Keene case, but accepted his withdrawal. …

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