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FAYETTEVILLE -- Lincoln, Washington County and a former property owner are suing a Lincoln woman whom they say has repeatedly failed to clean her property, officials said.

"We need to clean it up," Mayor Rob Hulse said.

Fast fact

Debbie Cain, of 120 S. Arkansas 45, purchased three parcels, equaling nearly 7 acres, from Robert Daugherty via an installment contract in 2012. The purchase price isn’t listed in county court records, but Daugherty asked Cain to pay $70,000 for violating her contract by not paying the installments. The county Assessor’s Office appraised the property at about $81,600 combined.

Source: Staff report

The nuisance lawsuit was filed jointly by the governments against Debbie Cain, property owner, and Robert Daugherty, who sold Cain the property via an owner-financed contract in 2012. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 3 at the Washington County Circuit Court.

Separately, Daugherty has sued Cain, claiming she broke her contract with him and should pay him $70,000.

A phone number connected to Cain in court documents wasn't answered Friday.

Attorneys involved in the case said they also haven't been able to talk directly with Cain. No lawyer is listed as representing Cain in court documents.

The governments jointly sued because the property, near the intersection of Arkansas 45 and U.S. 62, is split between the city and the county, Hulse said. The lawsuit soon will be connected to Daugherty's lawsuit because Lincoln plans to join that suit, too, City Attorney Steve Zega said.

Zega didn't want to comment on specifics to the case, he said.

County Attorney Brian Lester said the county joined the lawsuit with Lincoln to help the city, which was struggling to deal with Cain on its own. The move is also part of the county's increased effort to enforce environmental laws, he said.

"I think it's important for the county and the city to make sure we are taking care of the environment," Lester said "People have the right to do what they want with property but there are limits."

Court documents cite two addresses for the property, 120 S. Arkansas 45 and 132 S. Arkansas 45.

The property is a problem and an eyesore with at least 25 abandoned vehicles sitting in the open, said Justice of the Peace Joel Maxwell, a Republican who represents the area. He said he helped coordinate the lawsuit.

Hulse said the property is also a health hazard and a nuisance.

Cain was given multiple notices to clean up vehicles, trailers, scrap, debris and trash on her property, according to the lawsuit. She also was found guilty in district court of violating the city's animal control ordinance last year, the lawsuit shows.

Residents have complained about the property to county and city officials but the governments have had little success in abating the problem, Hulse said. They want Cain to clean her land or they want a judge to allow the governments to clean it and put a lien on the property to cover costs, Hulse said.

Meanwhile, Cain has racked up about $10,000 in fees from Lincoln over property violations, Maxwell said.

Daugherty is also frustrated with the condition of the property, Wade Wright, his attorney, said. His lawsuit asks Cain to pay or for a judge to order the property foreclosed on and auctioned, records show.

Cain stopped making payments and owes Daugherty about $70,000 due within 10 days of his Jan. 12 court filing, according to his foreclosure lawsuit.

Wright said Daugherty could end up with the property and would clean it. Under his contract with Cain, Daugherty doesn't have the right to go onto the property or remove anything, Wright said.

"We want to see it cleaned up," Wright said.

Hulse said most people who are asked to clean their property do so, but the lawsuit says efforts with Cain have been "fruitless."

"It's gotten to the point that we have been fighting this quite a while," Hulse said. "We've been concerned about it. We've not been able to find a solution to the problem so, therefore, we had to take these steps."

NW News on 01/21/2018

Print Headline: City, county, former landowner sue Lincoln woman

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