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Small Business Bears the Brunt of Politics, Wasted Tax Dollars and Lack of Accountability Within the U.S. Corps of Engineers

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., May 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — After years of litigation and battling with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Plaintiff in the case “Eden Isle Marina, Inc. vs. the United States of America” recently rested its case.

Ronnie and Liz Walters, owners of Eden Isle Marina, a commercial marina on Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas, believe they had no choice but to file a lawsuit against the country they were taught to love. The Walters’ attorney Patrick James of James, Fink and House, P.A. stated, “Filing this lawsuit was the most painful thing these folks have ever had to do.” He went on to say, “Political pressure, applied by some powerful people with special interests, persuaded the Corps of Engineers to shut down the Walters’ ability to grow this business, into which they’ve invested so much. All the Walters are asking for is to have the right to take back what they originally paid for, which was taken from them.”

The Walters’ lawsuit against the government was filed in 2007 after apparent misrepresentation and concealed information were found during an environmental study which the Walters had commissioned in 2005. This led to an approximate two-year investigation by the Walters’ counsel into Corps of Engineers files pertaining to Eden Isle Marina. The discoveries included the alleged use of political influence by an Arkansas Congressman in what should have been a mere administrative decision simply involving the addition of boat slips within the marina.

According to the Walters’ legal counsel, the cumulative information included a covert scheme strategically created and implemented to appease politicians being influenced by special interests. The trial included the testimony of former Congressman Marion Berry and former Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Martin Lancaster, among others. Mr. Walters’ complaint asserts that the Corps of Engineers, acting in concert with politicians, denied them their right, under false pretenses, to conduct their business, and has yet to fulfill its promises or admit wrongdoing.

According to the trial record, problems for the Walters began when the U.S. Corps of Engineers filed a “cease and desist” order in 1996 to keep the Walters from building additional boat docks in their marina. The Walters’ complaint alleges they were pressured by the Corps to give up the shoreline leasehold interest that was part of their original purchase of Eden Isle Marina in 1995 in exchange for an alternative shoreline lease that was subsequently shown to be unfeasible for a successful marina operation, effectively blocking the Walters from growing their business.

James stated, “This is a classic case of government abuse and an absolute lack of accountability by bureaucrats in the Corps of Engineers, unknowingly sponsored by U.S. taxpayers. Those within the Corps that took these actions against the Walters have already moved on with their lives, forcing my clients to seek justice within our courts. It’s sad that the Walters have spent years of time and much of what they’ve worked for in order to see this through.”

According to the latest court orders in the trial, the U.S. Government will file its next motion in late July, assuming no settlement is reached by that time, followed by a response brief from the Walters’ legal team in late August. A news story about this case, written by Mark Friedman, reporting for Arkansas Business magazine, appeared in March, 2007, shortly after the suit was filed. The transcript of the trial has just been made available to the public through the clerk’s office at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., or through Heritage Court Reporting, at 202-628-4888.

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