Flagpole lawsuit attorney fees cited
Courtesy of
Jul 20, 2001

The Wyndham homeowners' association wants Richard J. Oulton to pay it $86,122.50 in attorney fees for suing him to take down a flagpole he erected in his yard to fly the Stars and Stripes.

Oulton's flagpole remains up, even though a Henrico Circuit judge ruled June 11 he was violating Wyndham's covenants and ordered him to take it down "within a reasonable period of time."

A Vietnam veteran, Oulton is still considering appealing Judge L.A. Harris Jr.'s decision to the Virginia Supreme Court.

If Oulton and his wife, Ava, do appeal, they might ask Harris to let them keep the 25-foot pole standing until the higher court rules.

Oulton contends Wyndham's developer - HHHunt - is behind the lawsuit and purposely drove up those fees, which he is refusing to pay.

"They have managed to run it up to $86,000 at this point as a strategy to intimidate us and prevent us from wanting to continue with this lawsuit," Oulton said, "even though we couldn't have any choice except to defend it or give in on it."

The Wyndham Foundation Inc. sued Oulton and his wife to make them remove the pole from their property, located in northwestern Henrico. The attorney fees include court reporter, video deposition and filing expenses.

Two Wyndham attorneys argued the case before Harris, including Andrew G. Elmore, who denied Oulton's accusation about HHHunt.

"The costs related to this case were extraordinary in comparison to your garden-variety convenant enforcement case solely due to the actions of the respondents," Elmore said about the Oultons.

Attorneys for Oulton and Wyndham are expected to discuss the attorney fees during a 10 a.m. hearing before Harris this morning.

Wyndham's expenses fall below an estimate Oulton printed in a flier he circulated before the trial.

"The best estimate Richard can make as a practicing attorney is that this suit will cost the homeowners about $100,000, and with appeals and award of Oulton's defense costs, it could cost our neighbors $250,000," he wrote.

Oulton, who owns a law firm, has also changed his mind about moving.

In May, he told The Times-Dispatch he was trying to sell his house, saying, "If the flag has to go, I'm not sure if we can be really comfortable calling it home."

Yesterday, Oulton said he and his wife will stay in Wyndham because their neighbors don't want them to leave their 7,770-square-foot home.

"It's not easy to build a house like that and pack up and move on."