OKOLONA – After an executive session to discuss the ramifications of the verdict in a lawsuit filed by Ausbern Construction, the Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors decided not to seek an appeal at this time.
Ausbern sued the county for an unpaid balance on work done to CR 4 and a jury found in his favor March 26 in the amount of $387,793. The jury also found in favor of Ausbern for $182,500 for damages to be paid by County Engineer Ed Springer.
Following the closed session April 3, board attorney Gary Carnathan released a public statement the board will not seek an appeal on the ruling.
“We have determined at the present time this board feels they will not appeal,” Carnathan said.
County resident and former supervisor, Thomas Guido, questioned how the judgement would be paid.
Carnathan said it would most likely be paid as a general fund item, but added a final judgement has not been handed down and the monetary award could change.
“We have not gotten a judgement at this time,” Carnathan said. “I don’t know exactly how much the judgement will be.”
State Aid District Engineer Joel Bridges said the county is allocated funding for a four-year period and at the time of the lawsuit, his office recommended not using the money over the original contract until the litigation was completed.
Ausbern’s suit contended the specs on the project were incorrect and neccessitated extra materials, but an official change order was not completed and filed with State Aid or the board of supervisors by Springer.
“There has never been any change order or supplemental order submitted to this board to allow them to pay the extra $205,000,” Carnathan said. “They didn’t have anything submitted to say yes we will pay or no we won’t.”
Carnathan also said he wanted to clarify allegations of Ausbern making an offer of $220,000 to settle the case during mediation and the county countering with an offer of $30,000, as was reported.
“There was never any offer made to us to resolve this for $220,000,” Carnathan said. “During mediation in Greenwood, Ausbern offered $1.6 million and we thought that was too unreasonable to consider. A formal offer was never entered by us to pay $30,000.”
Herbert was contacted after the meeting and said all mediation was verbal through a third-party mediator and maintained an offer of $30,000 was presented as from the county, which he and his client refused. He also said he and his client did not offer to settle for $220,000.
A motion filed by Herbert on behalf of Ausbern Construction stated several times Ausbern was seeking not less than $220,000 in damages and with the exact amount to be shown at trial.
The board did not vote on the measure of not appealing the suit and no action was formally taken on the minutes.