Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ranchers win $100 million from Sacramento County in political influence case

A federal court jury on Tuesday awarded more than $100 million in damages to two gravel mining families that accused Sacramento County government officials of putting them out of business for the benefit of the rival Teichert Construction company. After a day and a half of deliberations, the U.S. District Court panel in Sacramento awarded $75 million in compensatory damages to Joe and Yvette Hardesty and $30 million to the Jay Schneider family. The verdict also hit three county officials with punitive damages, including Roger Dickinson, the former state Assembly member who was chairman of the Board of Supervisors when the county imposed a cease and desist order on the joint Hardesty-Schneider mining operation. The jurors found Dickinson liable for a $25,000 award against the Schneiders only. Retired Sacramento County Planning Director planner Robert Sherry was hit with $750,000 in punitive damages against the two families, while jurors awarded the Schneiders $1 million from county aggregate resource manager Jeff Gamel. In the trial that lasted more than a month, the plaintiffs charged that what was known as the “Historic Schneider Mine” had been running for decades as a “vested” operation with approval from Sacramento County. The Hardestys, who leased the mine located off of Meiss Road in the Sloughhouse area from the Schneider family ranching operation, charged in court papers that the county’s attitude changed after they “caught the attention of influential competitors like Teichert.”...more

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