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Dill sues ice rink

July 10, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

The former executive director of the city-owned ice rink has filed suit against the nonprofit group operating the rink, alleging breach of contract, defamation, slander of credit, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Walter E. Dill Sr. is seeking a total of $2.3 million - the value of the ice rink - in compensatory and punitive damages from the Washington County Sports Foundation Inc. and the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex, according to a civil suit filed in Washington County Circuit Court on Thursday.

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Dill said he would donate the money to help children who cannot afford to participate in ice skating programs.

"I built this rink for the kids who can't afford to skate as well as for those who can," he said.

William M. Breichner, foundation board chairman and a Hagerstown councilman, said Thursday he was not aware a lawsuit had been filed, though Dill had threatened to do so some time ago, he said.

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The foundation is insured against lawsuits, Breichner said.

Breichner said he had no further comment.

Dill also wants a full retraction and a public apology and clarification to inform people of the truth in regard to a notice posted at the rink in November, court documents say.

The note notified patrons, volunteers and employees that Dill had no official say at the rink, court documents say.

The notice, signed by William M. Breichner, foundation board chairman and a Hagerstown councilman, said "Mr. Walter E. Dill Sr. does not serve in any official capacity with the Hagerstown ice rink. This includes any and all volunteer activities. Therefore, he is not authorized to issue any orders, instructions or advice on behalf of the management."

The notices were posted when Dill's two children were at the rink, causing them obvious personal humiliation, the lawsuit contends.

In one instance, Dill interrupted skating activities in early November to introduce a figure skating team from the ice rink that had won awards in a regional competition and to present a figure skating demonstration, court documents say.

On Dec. 2, the lawsuit alleges that Breichner entered the ice rink and ordered Dill, his wife, Debra, and their children out of the facility and verbally barred Dill from any coaching capacity at the rink.

In the lawsuit, Dill also is asking that the road sign on Walter Dill Drive, be restored.

On or about Dec. 4, employees of the ice rink were seen removing the road sign from the Security Road entrance and carrying it inside the facility, court documents say.

Breichner said earlier that the sign had been stolen and would be replaced.

Dill also is requesting in the lawsuit that the commemorative plaques honoring his children for their contributions to the rink's development be returned.

Those plaques were removed from public display after Dec. 2, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also asks that the bulldog logo, which Dill and his children helped to paint, be returned to its original position centered beneath the ice on the rink, court documents say.

"We came to this town to be a family. We used our money, our credit, our hard work and long hours to build this ice rink," Dill said.

In the lawsuit, Dill alleges the Washington County Sports Foundation's board reneged on a promise to him and nine other organizers that they and their minor children would be permitted unlimited ice skating privileges without cost at the rink, court documents say.

The promise was made during a construction meeting in the latter half of 1996 in exchange for their expertise and efforts in getting the rink built, court documents say.

In the lawsuit, Dill alleges that the sports foundation and ice rink have failed to free Dill from liability on various contractual obligations and haven't paid Dill back for what he's owed, court documents say.

Dill spent at least $12,000 of his own money and was responsible for raising more than $1 million, said J. Gregory Hannigan, Dill's attorney.

Hannigan said Dill is still on the hook for loans taken out for the rink. Dill apparently learned that was the case when he tried to buy a car and a credit check was done, Hannigan said.

Dill helped the sports foundation secure liability insurance and additional financing by pledging his personal credit as a co-signer of a loan through Hagerstown Trust Co., court documents say.

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