Judge: Man suing the city needs to clarify his claims

Suit to be dismissed if damages by city aren't made clearer

Posted: Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A lawsuit against a Juneau police officer, his department and the city will be dismissed unless the man who filed it can make it clear to the judge why he is suing and how he was damaged.

Jake Olivit Sr. acted as his own attorney in filing the suit in December seeking $500,000 with a claim he was harassed by Juneau police officer Paul Comolli. Olivit alleged he was harassed at home and at work.

Olivit wrote in the original complaint that he has seen Comolli cruising in his neighborhood and that Comolli tried to get him fired from his job on two occasions. He also claimed Comolli harassed him last year at his oldest son's high school graduation and at the Alaska Native Celebration.

He wrote that he believes Juneau police have been harassing him since he was arrested for "stealing the tires off my own vehicle" 20 years ago.

He also argued against the city's motion to dismiss in January before Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins.

"Mr. Olivit has not presently presented his claims in a way that would support any known cause of action," Collins wrote in her ruling. But noting that she gave Olivit every benefit of the doubt, and that he didn't have an attorney, she gave him until mid-March to file a more definitive complaint.

Specifically, she wrote, Olivit needs to state an actionable claim, whom the claim is against, facts he asserts he will present for proof at trial and damages he suffered.

"Many of the allegations of the (original) complaint do not appear to support any cause of actions for civil damages," she wrote.

Attorney Eric Kueffner, hired by the city to handle the case, argued before Collins in January that he didn't see damages for the items Olivit discussed in the complaint.

Olivit answered that Comolli causing mental, emotional and physical distress and casting aspersions on his character were actionable matters.

Collins wrote that she inferred several claims from Olivit's complaint - defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and deprivation of civil rights under the color of law. She also noted that during oral arguments, Olivit said he also wanted to pursue action concerning a recent speeding ticket conviction.

She wrote that while Olivit may appeal the conviction, the related civil action he suggested is barred by law. She added that for the other claims, Olivit did not disclose adequate factual foundation or allegations of specific damages he suffered.

Olivit's factual assertions "do not begin to meet the threshold" of severity of emotional distress that he would need to state a claim in area, she wrote.

At best, the claims are unclear, Collins wrote. She asked if it was Comolli's alleged chest-puffing, statements to Olivit's employer or derogatory statements that Olivit did not hear. Even if the claim is based on all of those things, "what conduct is alleged to be outrageous?" Collins asked.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at ttony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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