Beaufort News

City seeks dismissal of firetruck lawsuit

City officials want the court to toss out a breach-of-contract lawsuit by a fire truck company that claims Beaufort reneged on a truck sale.

"The case is without basis, without merit and without foundation, and we are asking the court to dismiss it," city manager Scott Dadson said in a press release Friday.

Palmetto Fire Apparatus LLC of Ridgeland sued Fire Chief Sammy Negron, the Fire Department and the city in July, claiming it would have received a commission if the 1998 Pierce tower truck had sold for more than $300,000.

The Port Wentworth, Ga., fire department offered to pay $400,000 for the vehicle in May. Less than a week later, both Port Wentworth and Negron canceled the deal, according to the company's suit.

According to a response filed Wednesday by Beaufort's lawyer, William Harvey III, Palmetto Fire Apparatus was clearly and repeatedly informed that no sale of the truck could occur until the Beaufort City Council publically voted to approve it.

"By failing to share those facts with prospective buyers, the company breached its duties to its client, the Beaufort Fire Department," according to the press release.

Palmetto Fire Apparatus officials referred questions to the company's lawyer, Timothy Wogan. Attempts to reach Wogan Friday were unsuccessful.

A May 2 marketing agreement attached to the lawsuit simply states Palmetto Fire Apparatus "agrees to advertise and market" the truck, with its commission equaling any proceeds above the $300,000 asking price.

The Beaufort City's response states the Port Wentworth department could not buy the truck without its city council approval, which had not been granted. Attempts Friday to reach Port Wentworth city manager Phillip Claxton were unsuccessful.

In June, the city council approved the Beaufort Fire Department's budget, which included the proposal to sell the fire truck as part of an effort to downsize the department's fleet. The proceeds of the proposed sale were intended to go toward a smaller, more agile ladder truck better suited for use downtown, according to discussion at a June council meeting.

After the deal was canceled, Beaufort's city council has not announced new efforts to sell the truck, Harvey said.

No trial date has been set.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort.

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