A former real estate owner who spent decades rehabilitating houses in low-income areas is suing Louisville Metro Government for wrongfully putting him on a list of deadbeat landlords in an advertisement that ran in the Courier-Journal last fall.
Approximately 260 names were listed in a September edition of the newspaper, including Warren Jackel, who was shown owning $12,364 in unpaid property fines on four of his rental homes. However, officials with the Department of Inspections, Permits and Licenses later acknowledged three of those fines were waived, and another was not his responsibility.
“Bottom line is they made the mistake, they knew they made the mistake and refused to acknowledge it,” says Jackel. “I was still on the city website for months and I pleaded with them so I wouldn’t have to go to court. The only thing I was asking for was them to help me rehabilitate my name. You can’t imagine how much trouble this has caused me, but they just did not respond. So I filed a lawsuit.”
The advertisement was spearheaded by Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, to combat so-called slumlords with abandoned properties that weren’t being properly maintained. When Jackel demanded an apology, Shanklin blamed the error on the department.
“I retired because it took everything out of me. I just gave up. I couldn’t take it anymore,” he says.
Filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, the suit against the council seeks general and punitive damages citing damage to Jackel’s “professional and personal reputation” due to the full-page advertisement. It also names Codes and Regulations Director Jim Mims and Democratic caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt as liable.
“We had been assured by the county attorney’s office that any list we published would up to IPL to take care of and provide us with the correct information we needed,” says Hyatt, adding Mims did apologize to Jackel and council members at a committee meeting last year.
“We kept going back and checked and re-checked. Mr. Jackel was really the only one out of all those names that had concern,” he says.