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Citizens claim Cache County’s countersuit in canal case is illegal

File photo: Crews work to reconfigure the Logan and Northern Canal at 600 E. 800 North in Logan.
Cache Water Restoration Project

The lawsuit surrounding changes made to canals in Cache County following a 2009 mudslide that killed three people continues to wind its way through court.

A group of citizens, who sued the county over what they claim to be illegal action to bury canals, recently filed a motion to dismiss the county’s counterclaim.

The county filed a 76 million dollar counterclaim suing the citizens for defamation and libel, a charge Tony Wegener of the group Utah Foundation for Land and Open Water—known as Utah FLOW—said is illegal.

“It would be difficult to imagine anything more destructive of democracy than to place in the hands of government the power to stifle all descent with such lawsuits and to use the public treasury to silence its critics,” Wegener said.

“Now, we don’t have a lot of money, but they have an unlimited purse. They can spend whatever time they want on attorneys and we’re only able to do this though the goodwill of attorneys that are working for free.”

UPR’s messages to the Cache County Attorney’s Office have not been returned.

Wegener said other parts of how the litigation was handled are questionable. He said the countersuit was filed without being approved by the Cache County Council and that previous to the original suit, the county threatened to sue citizens who petitioned the canal changes.

He is now asking for members of the county council to publicly state their position and knowledge of the countersuit.

“What we’ve said that we’re asking for is that the rule of law be followed and that Utah statues be followed and that the property rights of all of the people whose property rights have been violated are appropriately reviewed,” Wegener said.

Wegener said he believes the council has been duped and hopes that the lawsuit will “throw the light of day on massive fraud.”