Million dollar helicopter contract suit transferred to JC

David Yates Sep. 11, 2007, 8:24am

A Webb County suit claiming a helicopter company is refusing to transfer a certificate of ownership to a medical air rescue company has been transferred to Jefferson County District Court.

The lawsuit, Medstar Air Rescue et al vs. Barken International Inc. et al, was filed with the Webb County District Court on Jan. 18, 2007 and transferred to Jefferson County Sept. 10. Judge Donald Floyd, 172 nd Judicial District, will now preside over the case.

The plaintiffs listed in the suit are Ace NC Systems, Vernon Reason, Medstar and Ben Barrick. The defendants are Barken and Herman Venter. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to stop Barken from repossessing the helicopters and are suing for compensatory, consequential and incidental damages.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, the Plaintiffs provide EMS helicopter services in Laredo, Texas to All American Ambulance, Inc. and also negotiate with area governments for helicopter services to support law enforcement/fire activities.

In 2006, the plaintiffs contacted the defendants for the purpose of purchasing nine helicopters, the suit said. The parties agreed upon a $1.5 million price tag and the "Defendants represented to Plaintiffs…that a Part 135 Certificate would be provided upon closing. These representations induced Plaintiffs into pursuing the purchase and ultimately making the purchase of the helicopters in question."

Medstar signed an initial contract with Barken International, but later amended the contract to reduce the purchase price to $1.1 million with two installment payments, the suit said. Upon delivery, Medstar cut Barken a $550,000 check, but was not given the Part 135 Certificate.

Copies of the contracts attached to the suit indicated Barken agreed to the new deal.

The plaintiffs, to no avail, have requested that Barken repair some of the helicopters and hand over the certificate, the suit said. Because Barken has refused to comply, the plaintiffs are withholding the second $550,000 payment.

"Defendants' failure to satisfy the additional obligations has caused plaintiffs significant damage," the suit said. "First, plaintiffs are unable to do business with All American without the Part 135 Certificate. Three of the helicopters are air ambulances contracted to All American. Plaintiffs are losing considerable profits every month for each air ambulance.

"Plaintiffs are also losing profits on other contracts and business opportunities…defendants misrepresented the identity of the seller, as title to the helicopters is not in defendants' name to clear title and achieve a closing on the sale.

"Second, three of the helicopters were damaged when loaded by defendants for transport. These three helicopters are now worthless.

"Third, another helicopter is in need of engine, transmission, and hydraulic part replacement. Plaintiffs were not aware of these necessary replacements upon their purchase because the logbooks provided for due diligence and later sent to Laredo were manipulated by defendants so as to misrepresent their actual condition. These unanticipated replacements will cost Plaintiffs a significant amount.

"Fourth, plaintiffs have also discovered that the logbook for yet another helicopter was manipulated to represent 2800 hours of flight time when in fact the helicopter has had 9800 hours of flight time. This greatly reduces the value of this helicopter.

"Fifth, plaintiffs have already paid for insurance coverage, which began Oct. 13, 2006. Plaintiffs are presently losing the value of this coverage."

The suit goes on to say an attorney representing the defendants contacted plaintiffs and stated that unless payment of the $550,000 balance under the contract was immediately paid, the company was going to come to Laredo and seize the helicopters.

The plaintiffs fault the defendants with fraud and breach of contract.

They are demanding a trial by jury and are represented by attorney Adolfo Campero of the Campero & Becerra law firm.

Case No. E179-978

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