On a Monday night in Luther, Wildhorse Park was packed. There were families picnicking at the playgrounds, Little League football and cheer teams were practicing for this weekend’s games. A volunteer over at the baseball field was mowing. And there was a Lady Lions Softball game going against Stroud. The stands were full. The bleachers, by the way, were brand new, thanks to Lowe’s and 4 Our Community who gifted the field with a recent make-over.
A lawsuit filed in Oklahoma County District Court last week, however, claims the activities that go on at that field are malicious, with unsupervised children who trespass and dump trash over the barbed-wire fence to the east of the field. The property owner, The Martin Company, an Oklahoma general partnership, is suing both the Town of Luther who owns the park land, and the Luther School District whose teams use the parks. The Martins wanted a fence, now they want $10,000.
According to the lawsuit: During the course of its ballpark operations, Defendant School District and their servants and employees improperly, willfully and with reckless disregard to Plaintiff’s rights, allowed patrons to cut and destroy Plaintiff’s fencing and trespass on Plaintiff’s farmland damaging crops, improperly placed trash, paper cups, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, rebar, fence posts, plastic bags, PVC pipe, tree limbs, cut grass, softballs, baseballs, beer bottles, golf balls and other rubbish on Plaintiff’s property, and subject Plaintiff to potential risk of liability by allowing children attending the ballpark to trespass on Plaintiff’s property, unsupervised, to play around, wade in and swim in Wild Horse Creek which is located on Plaintiff’s property.
The lawsuit also says the plaintiff has been bringing their complaints to the Town and school district since 2010, and tried again last November, with a demand to erect a fence to cease the “nuisance, trespass and negligence” of the defendants.
The lawsuit accuses the School and Town of ignoring the issue. However, both the Town and the School Board have discussed the issue in public meetings in the last several months, since last November. Just a couple of weeks ago, a member of the Martin family was at the July Planning Special Meeting of the Town Board where the issue was discussed. Both at the Town and the School Board, the bodies have acknowledged the adjacency of the ballfields and the private property. They each also have matter-of-factly not taken any action citing the lack of funds at both public bodies. The school district is in the midst of ongoing budget cuts with a lack of funding for any capital improvements. The new Town Board said it has a lack of budget availability to build a fence that would stretch several hundred feet from Highway 66 to the back of the ball field space.
The lawsuit makes four claims for relief: nuisance, trespass, negligence and punitive damages.
Nuisance: plaintiff has been damaged and is entitled to recover injuries to property for damages to fences, loss of productivity for agricultural purposes, consequential and actual damages for emotional distress.
Trespass: defendants’ operations constitute a trespass causing pollution and devaluation … Defendant’s failure to prevent ballpark patrons’ children from trespassing onto Plaintiff’s property and playing in and swimming in Wild Horse Creek subjects Plaintiff to possible personal injury liability.
Negligence: Defendants breached their duty to exercise reasonable care in operation of the baseball and softball fields, thereby causing pollution, devaluation, and other damages.
Punitive Damages: The acts and omissions of Defendants were willful, malicious, reckless and done in wanton disregard of Plaintiff’s rights.
The Martin Company wants $10,000 for the pain. Plus attorney’s fees. They are represented by Donna J Jackson & Associates, PLLC, in Oklahoma City.