FORT SMITH – A jury ruled this week in favor of four plaintiffs involved in a lawsuit with the City of Fort Smith in the neighborhood of around $200,000 over money owed for work done in the failed River Valley Sports Complex in Fort Smith.
The four plaintiffs were businesses that were involved in various aspects of the project such as dirt work, electrical work, and chain link fence installation.
The River Valley Sports Complex was an attempted project to build an 8 field softball complex at Chaffee Crossing that started several years ago. The project has faced numerous problems since its inception, and the contract on the project was cancelled in February of 2017.
Former State Senator Jake Files, one of the project’s developers, is currently serving an 18-month federal prison sentence for fraud and money laundering charges related to the River Valley Sports Complex project. Files admitted to misuse of general improvement funds that were supposed to be used for the project.
The other developer in the project, private business owner Lee Webb, testified in Sebastian County Circuit Court that once the project was cancelled, there was no money left to pay the workers who were owed money for the project.
However, City Administrator Carl Geffken also testified in court that the contract for the project outlined that the developers were responsible for paying the workers on the project as well as hiring them.
In the end, the City of Fort Smith will be held responsible for the costs of the unpaid work. The city has still not yet released details on a plan for the unfinished project, though they would like to have one by the end of 2018.