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Mar 7, 2012 10:09 AM by Q2 News

Rehberg lawsuit costly for Billings taxpayers

BILLINGS - The lawsuit against the City of Billings by Congressman Denny Rehberg and his wife Jan over how city fire crews fought a wildfire burning near the Rehberg Ranch subdivision four years ago, cost Billings taxpayers more than $20-thousand dollars.

City officials released that information Tuesday in response to a request from Sen. Jon Tester's campaign.

This past November, the Rehbergs decided to drop their lawsuit, after their attorney told them the case had become so embroiled in politics, he questioned whether the true substance would ever get out.

The Rehbergs alleged negligence on the part of the City Fire Department, after fire bosses ordered crews off the fire lines, only to see the Rehberg Ranch fire blow up just a short time later.

The Rehbergs claimed that action caused additional damage to their property.

Deputy City attorney Craig Hensel released documents Tuesday indicating the law firm of Moulton Bellingham billed the city for 151.8 hours of work by attorney Michelle Braukmann, at a cost to the city of $20,761.70 ($136.77/hour).

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