Weatherford Democrat

March 6, 2013

Judge tosses out ruling against WP

New trial ordered in dispute between Willow Park, contractor


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE



Parker County 43rd District Judge Craig Towson threw out a summary judgment Friday that would have required Willow Park to pay nearly $200,000 plus attorneys fees to an engineering firm suing the city for breach of contract.

After oral arguments the day prior, Towson ruled Friday, granting the city’s motion to vacate the summary judgment signed in late December by outgoing district judge Trey Loftin and accepting a motion for a new trial, according to Willow Park City Administrator Matt Shaffstall, who said the city was pleased with the ruling.

The city’s attorney made arguments that Loftin’s summary judgment order was premature and incorrect, according to Shaffstall.

The December summary judgment ruling awarded the company around $190,000 plus annual interest, attorney fees, court costs. Attorneys for E.S. & C.M. later submitted affidavits showing attorney billing costs of around $85,000.

E.S. & C.M. filed the lawsuit in July 2011 claiming the city owes them for the first phase of engineering work completed under a contract signed by city officials in January 2008 regarding plans for a regional sewage treatment plant.

The company agreed to allow the city to defer some of the cost for the work completed as the city was seeking funding from the Texas Water Development Board for the planned multi-million dollar project, according to court filings.

However, the city stopped paying invoices for completed work after the TWDB declined to fund the project months later, according to E.S. & C.M.

Former mayor Marvin Glasgow submitted an affidavit to the TWDB stating that the city was not involved in any lawsuits despite ongoing litigation, the company states in court documents.

“The city sabotaged its own efforts in the funding application by the submission of a false affidavit by the mayor of the city to the great alarm of the government officials and the surprise of the bonding and finance professionals who were a part of the application team,” attorneys for E.S. & C.M. wrote in December, noting that Willow Park had not addressed that issue in court filings.

The city denies the company’s claims, stating that E.S. & C.M. did not fulfill the terms of the contract.

The city also filed a counterclaim in December seeking damages from E.S. & C.M., alleging the company failed to abide by the contract by failing to submit detailed progress reports with their invoices as required by the agreement.

E.S. & C.M. has disputed those allegations, stating that the company fulfilled the contract, producing preliminary design and feasibility reports provided to the city and the TWDB in 2008 and the work and invoices were not the subject of complaint until 17 months into litigation.

Willow Park also claims that the company “recklessly asserted without any knowledge of the truth” that the city would receive funding from the TWDB and that they were “fraudulently induced” to enter the contract.

E.S. & C.M. stated in court filings that the record of evidence shows no representation on the part of E.S. & C.M. that funding was guaranteed.