More than two years after a civil lawsuit was lodged by Chief Appraiser Jerry Lee, claims against one of eight defendants have been dismissed.
Last week, Judge William C. Bosworth, who was appointed to serve as a special judge in the case filed in the 266th Judicial District Court in February 2009, signed an order disposing of all claims against Miller and ordered Lee to pay all court costs.
In speaking with the Empire-Tribune Friday, Miller called the case "a prime example of the type of frivolous lawsuit" he and other lawmakers have been working hard to regulate.
"The chief appraiser trying to sue the members of the his own board of directors for thinking about firing him is ridiculous," Miller said.
Miller said the state legislature recently passed "monumental tort reform" that led to the establishment of a "loser-pays" law that will take effect in September. While the law will not impact the case lodged by Lee, Miller explained how such issues will be handled in the future.
"In my case, Jerry Lee will have to pay my court costs, but not my legal fees. Since I was being sued in my official capacity and represented by Attorney General Gregg Abbott, taxpayers will foot the bill on this one," Miller said. "Taxpayers had to pay to defend me against the chief appraiser. If the case was filed after the law takes effect, and I was dismissed from the lawsuit, he would also have to pay the legal fees. It is important that we curb lawsuit abuse in Texas."
The petition alleged that Miller used Katherine Prater to pressure Lee into granting a tax exemption to Fort Worth & Western Railroad when she served on the appraisal board. Lee alleged that Prater threatened to vote to terminate him if he did not grant the exemption.
Other defendants in the case included former Erath County Appraisal District board members Bill Bailey, Neal Guthrie and Prater as well as local businessmen Scott Allen, Brad Allen, James Bacchus and Dwaine Bruner.
On Friday, Lee said the case had been settled with all but two defendants - Bacchus and Bruner.
"We are preparing for trial on Aug 29 with full expectations that is where we are going," he added.