Lowndes Commission deposition set for 2015
Published 10:51 am Thursday, December 11, 2014
The years-long litigation among the Lowndes County Commission, the owners of Hayneville Plaza and the South Central Alabama Broadband Cooperative (SCABC) District might be reaching an end soon, due to a decision made last Wednesday during a hearing for a motion of summary judgment.
In 2013, a plan to bring broadband Internet services to Lowndes County came to a halt when the Lowndes County Commission opted to file a lawsuit against Karl Bell, the owner of the Hayneville Plaza building, and the SCABC seeking compensatory damages for breach of contract.
The suit claimed that Bell agreed to provide $500,000 to help offset the bond payments until the effort to house the broadband company could get off the ground, and that when officials deposited the check, it was returned and had not been made good.
Bell’s attorney, Michael Strickland, said that though an agreement was reached to give the commission a loan, the $500,000 check was never to be cashed, tendered or negotiated.
Strickland added that during the process, the commission also determined that it needed $250,000 instead of $500,000 and, when another agreement was made upon Bell’s reviewing of the interest rate and term of the $250,000 loan, the commission refused to return the $500,000 check or sign the agreement for the $250,000 loan.
On Feb. 6, 2013, the commission also filed a lawsuit against the SCABC, claiming that rent money collected by the SCABC was property of the Lowndes County Commission, and that the SCABC be stopped from expending other funds and make a full accounting of money collected and spent as well as the balance of money to be paid to the county commission.
Strickland argued on last Wednesday, Dec. 3 for the motion of summary judgment, which is held when one party believes that there are no important facts in dispute.
“During this entire length of time, I have noticed the depositions of the county commissioners and their clerk on three separate times, and they have refused to sit for depositions,” Strickland said.
“The honorable judge informed (the Lowndes Commission’s) new counsel that they had to sit for depositions, and that if they refused to sit for deposition, their case was going to be dismissed.”
Strickland said that he would be deposing each of the county commissioners to ask them any questions that are discoverable.
“Truth is always at issue in a case, so I will be deposing each and every one of these county commissioners and I can ask them any questions that are discoverable—anything involving truth is discoverable,” Strickland added.
Lowndes County Commissioner W. Dickson Farrior said that the delay in organizing a deposition could be attributed to a number of things, but the most likely factor was in the hiring of a new attorney.
“I know that they’ve had trouble in scheduling a deposition because every time we tried to do it, somebody had something going on,” Farrior said.
“What we had to do was hire another lawyer because the lawyer we had got another job. But the case came back to us, and so there was a lull until we could find a lawyer that could handle it for the county in a reasonable manner.
“We are just trying to recover some money for the county and look out for the county’s interest and keep the case going.”
The Lowndes Signal also reached out to Lowndes County Commissioner Robert Harris for comment, but he declined due to pending litigation.
The upcoming depositions are open to the public, and are tentatively set for early January.