Court Rules Mahaska County In Breach Of Contract Over Regional Airport

Legal documents were filed in Mahaska County District Court by Pella and Oskaloosa to force Mahaska County to once again participate in the 28E agreement for a regional airport.

Legal documents were filed in Mahaska County District Court by Pella and Oskaloosa to force Mahaska County to once again participate in the 28E agreement for a regional airport.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The legal battle between the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa and Mahaska County has it’s first ruling on the 28E agreement to build a regional airport.

The parties were before the court on Tuesday, and Judge Shawn Showers issued a ruling on Wednesday morning.

The Plaintiffs in the case are the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa. The defendant in the case is Mahaska County.

The analysis and ruling as handed down by the court states:

“The City of Pella, the City of Oskaloosa, and Mahaska County formed the South Central Regional Airport Agency (SCRAA). Plantiffs and Defendant entered into a valid 28E agreement. The agreement was filed with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. The SCRAA Agreement provided that amendment or termination could only occur upon the approval of the governing boards of each party. Mahaska County is challenging Plantiff’s interpretation of the word “each”. This demonstrates the weak position Mahaska County is in regarding their resistance to the Plantiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgement.

The unambiguous terms of the 28E agreement require all parties to the contract to agree to amending or terminating the SCRAA agreement. Mahaska County Board of Supervisors’ resolution passed June 19, 2017, is an affirmative (no longer anticipatory) repudiation of the contract. Mahaska County’s breach of contract is further demonstrated by the removal of its representative from the SCRAA board. “If the court finds that no ambiguity exists, contract interpretation and its legal effect are questions of Law,” Van Sloun v. Agans Brothers, Inc.

A valid contract existed between the parties, Defendant breached the contract, and the Court GRANTS Petitioner’s Motion for Summary Judgement and request for Declaratory Judgement. Mahaska County is asking to be relieved from, in their current view, a bad deal. The Court is not in the business of rewriting contracts. This Court attempted to find some legal authority to find the agreement null and void. Defense counsel could not provide guidance to the Court on this issue. There is simply no rationale legal basis to invalidate this 28E agreement

County Home Rule does no prevent Mahaska County from being a party to this contract. Rather, as Plantiffs’ counsel argued, it allows counties and municipalities to assert control and enter into 28E agreements. This agreement is not indefinite as the completion of the project would complete the purpose of the agreement. ACRAA has not deprived Mahaska County of its legislative and governmental functions and powers.

28E agreements are to be liberally construed. In hindsight, this may not have been a wise agreement for Mahaska County to enter into. The Court recognizes that the specific performance remedy in the agreement is constrictive. But under Lange, specific performance is a permissible remedy for breach of contract. The remedies for breach are clear in the 28E Agreement. Under Iowa law, parties to a contract are free to fashion their own remedies in the event of breach.

This contract grants each party “the right to eqitable remedy of specific performance to enforce compliance with any provision of [the 28E] Agreement” in the event of breach.

In Iowa, “courts generally enforce contractual limitations upon remedies unless such limitations are unconscionable.” A bargin is said to be unconscionable at law if it is “such as no man in his sense and not under delusion would make on the one hand, and as no honest and fair man would accept on the other.” The Court finds that this agreement does not rise to the level of being unconscionable. Specific performance, on the record presented to the Court is permissible.

The Court further finds the agreement is binding and does not violate public policy. Mahaska County has breached the 28E Agreement contract. Plantiffs are entitled to remedy this breach. No genuine issue of material fact exists and Plantiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement is GRANTED.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED

1. Plantiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement is GRANTED and Plantiffs are granted Declaratory Judgement.

2. Plantiffs may pursue remedies specified in the 28E agreement for breach of contract.

3. Defendants are assessed costs of this action.

Mahaska County Board of Supervisors Chair Willie Van Weelden said that according to the advice given to him, the county would have 30 days to appeal the ruling. Action would have to be taken by the Board of Supervisors to authorize an attorney to file that appeal.

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Posted by on Jun 13 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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