Curtis Gokey is two men at once - a Lodi city employee and a private citizen.
Gokey the employee crashed a city dump truck into a privately owned truck owned by, well, Curtis Gokey.
But Gokey the private citizen wants the city of Lodi to pay damages incurred by Gokey the employee. The two Gokeys are the same person. Not only that, his wife says that the accident was her husband's fault.
Gokey backed the city dump truck into his private vehicle during a December storm, according to his wife, Rhonda Gokey. The private vehicle is registered in both their names, so they jointly filed a claim against the city.
The city recently denied a $3,600 claim because Curtis Gokey is a city employee and, in essence, filing a claim against himself, his wife said.
Since that didn't work, Rhonda Gokey reasoned that she could file a new claim in her own name only, thereby eliminating her husband's alleged conflict of interest in filing a claim against himself.
"I have the right to sue the city because a city's vehicle damaged my private vehicle," she said.
Rhonda Gokey filed a larger claim, this one for almost $4,800.
"I'm not as nice as my husband is," she said. "I'm entitled to a replacement vehicle and insurance for the vehicle."
The second claim is pending at Lodi City Hall.
City Attorney Steve Schwabauer said the claim doesn't have merit, especially because Curtis Gokey admitted in the first claim that the accident is his fault.
There is no basis for Rhonda Gokey's claim, either, because she can't, in essence, sue her husband, Schwabauer said.
"You can sue your spouse for divorce, but you can't sue your spouse for negligence," Schwabauer said. "They're a married couple under California law. They're one entity. It's damage to community property."
First published: Wednesday, March 15, 2006