Tulalip Tribes, Washington


"Snohomish County is paying nearly $200,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from a mistake made by a county building inspector. Inspector Carol Richter issued stop-work orders in March 1998 on three houses because of alleged building code violations. But the houses were being built on Indian-owned land within the Tulalip Reservation. Trust land is regulated by the tribe and the county has no jurisdiction over building regulations. The lawsuit by Richard Madison alleged the actions hurt his reputation and caused him embarrassment and other damages. The county argued it acted in good faith and that Madison was not damaged. But deputy prosecutor Thomas Fitzpatrick said the county settled for $199,500 after U.S. District Judge John Coughenour in Seattle ruled in March against the county. Madison's lawyer, Marc Slonim of Seattle, said he thought the stop-work orders were more than a mistake. "We felt they either did know or should have known better. That was what the case was all about," he said. He also argued that county employees aren't adequately trained.