Judge sides with Nash in civil rights case


A United States District Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the Town of Warren and its building inspector, William Nash, that alleged he violated a local family’s constitutional rights as they sought to build a new home in a secluded corner of Touisset.

Jeffrey and Linda Wyrostek of 4 Privet Lane had alleged that Mr. Nash impeded the construction of their home and in doing so violated their rights to due process and equal protection under the law. The many problems he found with the construction, they alleged, cost them financially and dragged out what should have been a straightforward construction project by two years.

But in a ruling published on Thursday, Oct. 31, Judge William E. Smith rejected the Wyrosteks’ claims, ruling that while Mr. Nash was thorough and exacting in his oversight of the construction of their home, he was not unfair and did not violate their constitutional rights.

“The bottom line is this: At worst, (the Wyrosteks’) allegations depict Nash as being highly demanding and perhaps a bit inflexible. In a word, a stickler. Perhaps Nash could even be fairly characterized as a pain in the back-side,“ the judge wrote. However, “the record indicates that Nash’s demands of the Wyrosteks, while undoubtedly burdensome, were sought in good faith to require strict adherence to municipal building code.”

The case began in 2007, when Mr. Nash issued the Wyrosteks a permit to build a 3,315-square-foot home on a Privet Drive lot they’d owned since 2004. As construction commenced, Mr. Nash raised numerous issues with the job and the house’s adherence to plans filed with his office. Problems arose with grading, the building height, insulation, handrails, vapor barriers and water runoff issues; at one point Mr. Nash issued a stop work order after noting that the contractor had installed a full basement on the home when one was not noted on the building permit application. After numerous delays and several inspection failures, Mr. Nash issued a certificate of occupancy in March 2009.

Though the house was ultimately deemed habitable, the Wyrosteks “paint Nash as some kind of a Draco Malfoy character, planting obstacles in their way for sport or spite,” the judge wrote. In their lawsuit they sought compensatory and punitive damage and an injunction against harassment from town officials.

But in his order for summary judgement on behalf of Mr. Nash and the Town of Warren, Judge Smith rejected them all, saying that the case does not even come close to a “gross abuse of power,” as the Wyrosteks had alleged.

“That the Wyrosteks encountered so many setbacks and cost overruns in the construction of their home is regrettable,” he concluded. “But the record indicates that these setbacks and overruns were the result of an early deviation from the project specifications, combined with the oversight of a demanding but scrupulous public official.”


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.