An embattled gold mine owner has filed a multimillion dollar claim against Sierra County, claiming criminal charges against him cost his business the ability to raise capital.
Original Sixteen to One President Michael Miller said the claim is a first step toward a suit against the California District Attorneys Association, a Sacramento agency that sought criminal charges against Miller, mine manager Jonathan Farrell and the mine after the accidental death of a worker in 2000.
A judge dismissed the charge in February.
"Both the company incurred and I personally incurred (damages) because of a breach of duty of county personnel and malicious, questionable and unlawful activities of the CDAA," Miller said.
The nonprofit association sought charges as part of its Worker Safety Program, formed to provide legal expertise in employee safety issues for rural counties.
Gale Filter, environmental program director for California District Attorneys Association, declined comment.
The association is not named in the claim filed against Sierra County, in which Miller is asking for $24 million for the Original Sixteen to One mine and $50 million for himself, according to the claim filed April 10.
Miller said he doesn't want to sue Sierra County. He said he has offered, in a public meeting, to settle for a buck.
But Miller said he needed to clear the roadblocks to suing the association. Filing a claim against the county is the first step required to sue a public entity under California law.
In the claim, Miller alleges that breach of duty, malicious prosecution and violations of criminal law by the county caused him to lose key personnel and prompted investors to back off from the mine. The mine is a publicly held company that was delisted prior to the criminal charges when its share price dropped below minimum requirements for the Pacific Stock Exchange.
Jim Curtis, county counsel for Sierra County, said there are immunities that apply to judges and prosecutors, leaving them free from charges of wrongful prosecution.
"Someone could bring the legal system to a standstill if people thought they could file a claim," Curtis said.