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Claim denied
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The Darlington Stock Car Association claim for damages against Lafayette County was denied by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors on Monday, Dec. 12.
The Darlington Stock Car Association (DSCA) filed a claim for damages against the county on Nov. 21 after the county’s fair committee sought bids for new contracts to operate the races at the county fairgrounds. DSCA claims that the contract with the county doesn’t expire until October 2013.
Steve Elmer, corporation counsel for Lafayette County, said when the contract was initially negotiated, “the Stock Car Association had a contract previously. They were in financial straights. Since they were having some difficulties, the county was extremely patient working with them and agreed to negotiate a new lease to help accommodate their situation. The lease was negotiated incorporating almost all of the Stock Car Association’s requests. There were some typos in the initial draft. Those were corrected. The Stock Car Association made a conscious choice not to sign that contract or to comply with the provisions of the contract, so my recommendation would be that the board deny this claim.”
County board chairman Jack Sauer said he and County Clerk Linda Bawden both signed the lease agreement in February 2009, but nobody from DSCA signed the lease.
Elmer said if the board admits to the claim, the board would be acknowledging that the DSCA was right and that the county agrees about all of the damages DSCA is requesting. Denying the claim sends it to litigation.
“I just don’t think you [the board of supervisors] should feel guilty about this when it’s the Stock Car Association that is taking the aggressive posture here and looking at litigation to solve their problems,” Elmer said.
Elmer also recommended discussion be limited on the topic. He said the individual points of the claim will be handled at the legal level later.
Bill Moody, chairman of the fair committee, opted to make no comment on the matter.
DSCA’s attorney, Peter J. Kind, asked to make a presentation to the board to inform them of what was going on to prevent a lawsuit. Kind said he was seeking a resolution short of litigation, which would require the board hearing his side. His request was denied by county board chairman Jack Sauer, even after two other supervisors—Carol Korn and Connie Hull—said they wanted to learn more information about the topic.
“Mr. Elmer advised me before that it wasn’t really open for discussion on either side,” Sauer said. “We were just supposed to present the history… so that’s the way we’ll leave it.”
Moody said the DSCA should have given the board 24-hour notice if they wanted to present at the meeting. The item was listed on the agenda as, “discussion and possible action regarding notice of claim from Darlington Stock Car Association.”
Elmer said since it wasn’t listed as a public hearing the county board was not obligated to allow DSCA to talk. He said the chairman was able to make the final decision.
“We run by committee structure,” Sauer said. “The fair board is all here tonight. You’ve heard this backwards and forwards. Some of you have been through the whole thing and I think you guys know what is going on. Typically you have resolutions when it comes to something we’re deciding on, not on a denial of claim; I’ve seen these before. You take the committee decision… I think we have no choice but to go by our legal council tonight. The fair board knows what’s going on.”
The motion to deny the claim was made by Moody and seconded by supervisor Ted Wiegel. A roll call vote was taken with unanimous results to deny the claim.