Judge Wants Davenport Lawsuit “Resolved” Within the Year

Get. It. Done.

Judge Designate Alfred D. Swersky today (March 20) told attorneys arguing the case of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors v Davenport & Co LLC he wants the case resolved by the end of the year.

“My concern is this lawsuit is two and a half years old… I’m concerned with the age of it,” Swersky said in Fluvanna County Circuit Court. “I don’t have anything on my calendar for October, November or December. Can we set a trial date?” Swersky, a retired judge, is hearing the case after other judges recused themselves because of potential conflict of interest.


Fluvanna’s lawyer Douglas Palais and Davenport’s lawyer John Reid promised they’d come up with agreeable dates soon.

At the same hearing, both sides got a bit of what they wanted.

Swersky granted the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors’ request to amend its complaint but denied its motion to quash the subpoenas of past and present members of the Board of Supervisors.

That means now the county is asking only $5.3 million in damages (down from $18 million) and Davenport lawyers get to depose seven current and former county Supervisors. Originally Davenport’s lawyers also wanted to question the three Fluvanna lawyers on the case – Palais, Fred Payne and Kristina Hofman – but Swersky said no.

Davenport’s lawyers weren’t arguing against Fluvanna’s motion to amend its complaint because of the reduced request for damages, but because the amendment also contained a “clarification.” In paragraph 30 of the original filing, it states David Rose – the Davenport advisor to Fluvanna – made certain statements at a Nov. 24, 2008 meeting about the ability to renegotiate Virginia Public School Authority bonds.

It turns out Rose wasn’t even at that meeting.

Because of that detail, Davenport’s lawyers wanted the entire lawsuit thrown out and filed a motion to dismiss. That motion has yet to be argued.

But when Fluvanna filed its amendment lowering its damage request, it also stated it was former County Administrator Cabell Lawton at the meeting simply restating advice Rose had given him earlier.

Davenport’s lawyers responded with an affidavit of its own signed by Lawton in which they claim Lawton wasn’t parroting Rose’ advice.

Swersky did not entertain arguments about those aspects of the case, instead limiting his decisions on accepting the amended complaint and allowing Davenport’s lawyers to again schedule questioning of the Supervisors.

It all started in 2008 when the Board sought advice about financing the new High School. Davenport was the Board’s long time financial advisor.  The Board decided to heed the advice, but then decided it wasn’t such a good idea.

In September 2011, the Board filed a lawsuit claiming Davenport gave them bad advice which cost the county money. The suit contends Davenport’s guidance caused the county to pay more than necessary for bonds to build the high school and lined Davenport’s pockets at the county’s expense.

At one point it looked as if the suit would be thrown out, but the Supreme Court reinstated the case.

By December, the county had spent more than $340,000 to litigate the lawsuit.

The Board reduced its request for damages because in the past year, the Board refinanced all the bonds it bought following Davenport’s advice, so it lost less money.

Davenport’s lawyers want to question current supervisors Mozell Booker (Fork Union), Don Weaver (Cunningham), Robert Ullenbruch (Palmyra), Mike Sheridan (Columbia), Tony O’Brien (Rivanna) and former supervisors Shaun Kenney (Columbia) and Joe Chesser (Rivanna).

Reid said he wanted to question supervisors who were on the board when the decision to file the lawsuit was made. He included new supervisors who might know about the decision to amend the complaint naming Lawton as the person at the November meeting who gave the VPSA bond advice.



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