Town wins dispute over fire truck

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Town of Cloverdale is facing one less lawsuit.

Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley recently ruled in favor of the town regarding a lawsuit filed by Simon Fire Equipment and Repair, Dubuque, Iowa.

On Tuesday, attorney Mindy Jackman, who represented Cloverdale in the lawsuit, told the BannerGraphic that specific wording of a motion helped with the decision.

Jackman said a motion made by the council, which stated the town would accept a bid from Simon Fire to purchase a fire truck subject to favorable financing, was pertinent in the judge's decision. She added a vote of 3-2 against accepting the bid, made on July 19, 2005, in which three council members were not comfortable with the bid acceptance, helped as well.

"At this point, the case is dismissed," Jackman said. "We're very pleased for the town. I think the judge made good reasoning based on the facts presented."

On Tuesday, current Cloverdale Town Council President Don Sublett said he was thrilled with the ruling.

"We're very pleased. We're very happy," Sublett said. "We're very happy it's over with."

Jackman said attorneys for Simon Fire Equipment can file an appeal within 30 days of Jan. 8, but she doesn't expect it.

"I don't believe they will file an appeal on it," she said.

"I don't think it's going to go any further," Sublett added.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Dubuque, Iowa, on Oct. 27, 2005, in regard to breach of contract after the town council had voted to accept a bid from Simon Fire Equipment and Repair to purchase the fire truck.

The lawsuit stated that on or about April 2005, the town began a bidding process to purchase one fire truck from Simon Fire. A resolution was signed by all five council members on April 12. Four of the members voted to buy a fire truck. Sublett was absent from the meeting.

On June 8, 2005, the town council conducted a special meeting and, according to the lawsuit, accepted a bid from Simon Fire to furnish the fire truck. At the meeting, board member Judy Whitaker motioned to accept the bid, subject to favorable financing, with Sublett giving the second. The motion passed, 3-1-1, with Whitaker, Sublett and John Davis voting yes. Dennis Padgett voted no while Glen Vickroy abstained.

The town was informed by its financial advisor, Krohn and Associates, that there was favorable financing at the time, setting up a public meeting on July 19 to vote on a bond issue for financing.

However, financing of the bond issue for the fire truck was voted down, 3-2, with Padgett, Sublett and Vickroy voting no at the special session.

In November 2005, Sublett, Padgett and Vickroy filed a response, asking they be dismissed from the lawsuit.

The trio's response stated that Simon Fire brought the lawsuit against the town, rather than against individual members of the town council.

The response continued stating Whitaker and Davis made decisions and acted independently of the town council and that the three had received a letter Davis had written.

The response from the three council members said they were not "comfortable" with the letter, and the letter was sent without their knowledge or approval.

The letter in question, according to the lawsuit, was written by Davis to Simon Fire representative Dale Bush. It stated the town had accepted its bid for the fire truck estimated at $229,990.63. The letter continued stating the council had voted in favor of purchasing the truck, subject to favorable financing.

However, Sublett recently told the BannerGraphic he had sent a letter to Davis stating the council had no knowledge or approval of the letter sent to Bush. Sublett said the council became aware of the letter on July 29, 2005, 24 days after it was sent. In the letter, Sublett said he believed the letter was invalid, according to information he received from two attorneys and a legal consultant from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.

In the letter, Sublett asked Davis to write a letter to Simon Fire legal representatives rescinding the July 5, 2005, letter and return a $25,000 bind bond check. Sublett, however, told the BannerGraphic Tuesday that no such letter was written.

In January 2006, the lawsuit was dismissed in Iowa. On Jan. 20, a court ruling noted the Iowa court agreed with Cloverdale that it did not have personal jurisdiction over the town, and the town's contacts with Iowa were minimal. The court ruled the case should be tried in Indiana, as most of the parties involved and key documents were in Indiana.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: