Supreme Court rejects PB woman’s lawsuit

The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a circuit court ruling that a Pine Bluff woman who wanted to use a former nursing home as a foster care facility for children did not have legal standing to file a lawsuit after her permit request was denied.

Rhonda Coleman had sued the city of Pine Bluff, the Pine Bluff Planning Commission, then-Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., and the-then members of the city council — Irene Holcomb, Thelma Walker, Charles Boyd, Wayne Easterly, Glen Brown, Bill Brumett and Janice L. Roberts — in their individual and official capacities.

Although he is not mentioned in the court filing, George Stepps was also a member of the city council when the lawsuit was filed.

In 2010, Coleman submitted a request to the planning commission for a Use Permitted on Review permit to use the former Pine Bluff Nursing Home at 3701 S. Main St., for foster children. Her request was denied by the commission, and the city council also denied the request when she appealed to them.

Coleman then took her case to Circuit Court and argued that a city ordinance permitted her to file an appeal when her application for the permit was denied.

Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr., ruled in favor of the city, saying that the city ordinance conflicted with Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure, which require that the lawsuit be brought by the “real party of interest.” Since Coleman did not own the property, Wyatt said she was not the real party of interest.

Coleman appealed Wyatt’s decision to the Supreme Court, again contending that the city ordinance gave her the authority to file the legal action.

The Supreme Court opinion, written by Chief Justice Jim Hannah, said the case hinges on the interpretation of the city ordinance, but no copy of that ordinance was included with the appeal.

“We have consistently held that it is the duty of the appellant to bring up an adequate record for our review,” Hannah said in the ruling. “Failure to do so precludes our review.”