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March 10, 2014

New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone files response to lawsuit by former director

Mike Ladd seek $11,370 from remainder of contract

NEW ALBANY — An attorney representing former New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone Executive Director Mike Ladd said he would like to settle the lawsuit filed against the organization out of court, but stressed a settlement of less than what the plaintiff feels is owed to him will not be accepted.

City attorneys filed a response to the lawsuit last week — eight days after a deadline had been set for an answer — which denied allegations against the UEZ, including that the organization had failed to honor its contract with Ladd.

Ladd served as executive director of the UEZ board for about six years before he was fired in March 2012.

During the meeting in which Ladd’s contract was terminated, David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, and a UEZ board member, said Ladd had OK’d claims without approval from the board. Ladd countered that all expenses were documented, and Duggins later said that nothing appeared suspicious about the claims upon further review.

Ladd was never replaced, as city officials used the funds that had been dedicated for the full-time position for grants and loans for UEZ-eligible businesses.

In January, Ladd and his attorney, Jack Vissing, filed a lawsuit in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 calling for the UEZ to pay out the remainder of his contract, which was $11,370.

City Attorney Stan Robison filed, on behalf of the UEZ, a motion for an extension to file a response Jan. 24, and an order granting the enlargement of time was issued that same day.  The UEZ was given a 30-day extension to answer the allegations, however a response wasn’t filed until March 3.

With Vissing recovering from knee surgery, another attorney with his firm, Derek Hickerson, is now representing Ladd. On Thursday, Hickerson filed a motion calling for a pretrial conference between the lawyers and judge.

Hickerson said Monday that even if a response is filed late, it typically will be accepted if it’s within a short period of time after the deadline.

The UEZ fired Ladd while he was still under contract without due cause, Hickerson said.

“We’re hoping that we can just get this resolved outside of court, but we will go to court if we need to,” he said, as Hickerson added they won’t accept anything less than what they feel Ladd is entitled to.

Robison wasn’t immediately available for comment Monday afternoon. He said last week he intended to file a response to the allegations on behalf of the UEZ.

As of press time Monday, a date for a pretrial conference hadn’t been set.

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