OGDEN -- The lawyer suing Ogden city since 2006 over a fatal crash involving a car police had been chasing has raised new allegations against the lawyers who represented the city.
Rob Sykes, in a motion filed Wednesday, asks 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley to order the city to pay him more than $500,000 in legal fees as a punishment for "fraud upon the court."
The behavior of the same lawyers during a November 2009 trial caused the Utah Supreme Court in June to throw out the jury verdict that acquitted the city. The justices ordered a new trial in the 2005 crash that killed two people.
Jessica Nelson, 21, and her passenger, Philemon "Bob" Ellis, 62, died when their car was struck by one driven by Eddy Raymond Bustos. The accident occurred around 3 a.m. Dec. 13, 2005, in the intersection of 24th Street and Grant Avenue.
Nelson's family filed suit in 2006, seeking $715,000 for Nelson's then-5-year-old daughter, Wonzie Barrientos.
After a six-day trial, the jury found that former Ogden police officer Matt Jones' pursuit of drug suspect Bustos did not cause the crash, which occurred seconds after Jones turned off his overhead lights and ended his chase.
Bustos' speed was 78 mph at the time of impact.
After the Supreme Court sent the case back to district court, Sykes filed a motion in July with Hadley demanding the city pay his $500,000-plus in expenses generated in taking the lawsuit to trial because of the city's "bad faith."
Those allegations have grown to a "fraud on the court" in Wednesday's motion, with Sykes claiming his legal team just this month realized the city's lawyers, Heather White and Allen Larson, of the Salt Lake City law firm of Snow, Christensen & Martineau, lied about the state's uniform pursuit policy at the 2009 trial.
"It's also a fraud upon the jury," Sykes said in an interview.
"In 38 years practicing law, I've never seen such outrageous conduct."
Andrew Morse, of Snow, Christensen & Martineau, said no one in the firm had yet seen the new motion, "but there was no fraud on the court. We had a good faith basis to admit that policy at trial. We had two witnesses testify it was the current policy."
White and Larson represented the uniform pursuit policy at the time recommended by the Utah Department of Public Safety as not defining exactly what the manner of terminating a chase involved, states Sykes' motion.
But the policy at the time of the crash actually defines termination as the full stop of the pursuing vehicle, plus turning off all equipment such as lights and siren, all of which Jones did not do, according to the motion.
The motion demands White and Larson be removed from the case.
In throwing out the jury verdict, the Supreme Court was extremely critical of White and Larson for depicting Jessica Nelson as possibly a prostitute out partying late with Ellis when the pair died in the crash.
In pretrial motions, the judge declared such references to Nelson's behavior off limits for the trial.
Bustos is serving a potential 30-year prison term after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter in 2007.