Complaint alleges ‘character assassination’
Former San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman is representing himself in a $10 million lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, claiming collusion between the BLM, the media, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and special interest groups harmed his business and professional relationship.
The lawsuit comes after Lyman, now a state representative, spent 10 days in jail in 2014 for using all-terrain vehicle to “protest ride” into public land where motorized travel is prohibited.
According to The Associated Press, Lyman claims the alleged collusion was “malicious, knowingly inaccurate, and calculated as an effective form of character assassination.”
Lyman was found guilty of misdemeanors in 2015, including conspiracy for organizing the ride into Recapture Canyon, which is barred to motorized traffic because Native American cliff dwellings are there.
Lyman was also fined $96,000, an amount he’s paying off at $100 a month.
Lyman also alleges the BLM didn’t follow its own policies when it closed the road into Recapture Canyon in 2008; that local and state officials were not consulted beforehand.
This is not his first bite at the apple. The AP reports Lyman submitted a claim for $2.5 million in damages in 2018 that was denied this year. His options were to seek reconsideration in six months or file the lawsuit in federal court.