Failure to give up seat on board results in lawsuit against Muncie Sanitary District

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MUNCIE, Ind.-- Another lawsuit has been filed in the city of Muncie, and this time the city is taking legal action against one of its own departments: the Muncie Sanitary District (MSD).

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the MSD since 2016. Some resulted in federal charges and arrests, but this is the first lawsuit filed under the new administration led by Dan Ridenour after his first month in office.

The new lawsuit alleges the city engineer for the MSD is refusing to give up his seat on the board. The newly appointed city engineer, Brian Stephens-Hotopp, and the city of Muncie are now suing three board members including Michael Cline, who was appointed by former Mayor Dennis Tyler.

Cline's last day as a city engineer was supposed to be Dec. 31. As of today, he's still there.

Court documents claim Cline refused to give up his seat, even after new mayor Dan Ridenour a letter on Jan. 14 informing Cline his services were no longer needed.

Therefore, the city has decided to file a lawsuit against the entire board of three people, not just Cline. The attorney representing the City says that's because any of the three board members could step down to make room for Hotopp, but none have done so. They're simply asking Cline to step down because he held the last seat as a city engineer.

The city hopes the legal action will provide supervision on the actions of the sanitary district, which has been the target of a years-long FBI corruption probe where several employees were indicted on federal charges and awaiting trial.

The sanitary district referred us to its attorneys. We asked if Cline is still on payroll and have yet to hear back.

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