Westport Island continues to deny bond company's court claims

Posted:  Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 8:00am

The performance bond company suing Westport Island is basing its case on an invalid letter, the town maintains in court documents filed December 2012.

It's the same argument the town has been making in the case since American Contractors Indemnity Company brought the suit June 2012. The town's December 7 filing came in response to new claims the plaintiff has made.

The suit stems from the public boat launch project of 2010. The California-based bond company claims the town should have sent it more than $250,000, in connection with a bond the company gave the project's contractor. The town instead paid the contractor, Bill Whorff Inc., directly, the suit claims.

The suit refers to a December 2009 letter in which the town appeared to agree to send the bond company the payments.

First Selectman George Richardson signed the letter but was not authorized to sign it, because the board of selectmen did not vote for him to do it, the town's attorney William Dale said last summer.

Dale states in the December filing, “The letter agreement … was not authorized by either the Town's municipal officers or its legislative body.”

The bond company maintains the letter did bind the town to send it the payments. Paying Bill Whorff Inc. instead amounts to a breach of contract, according to the suit.

The plaintiff's amended complaint claims the town's actions affected the company's surety status, causing unspecified damages; and it asserts that the town cannot claim the 2009 letter is invalid.

“The town promised to abide by the terms of the Letter ...,” it states. “Injustice can be avoided only by enforcing the Town's promise.”

In its response, the town denies the company's original claims as well as the new ones. The town again asks the court to rule in its favor and award it the costs it has incurred from the case.

Susan Johns can be reached at 207-844-4633 or sjohns@wiscassetnewspaper.com.