Court orders Chickasaw County to pay construction company

county_chickasaw_greenBy Floyd Ingram

Chickasaw Journal

OXFORD – A Lafayette County jury has ruled Ausbern Construction is due $570,293.60 in costs and damages following a lawsuit with Chickasaw County that has stretched over two years.

Ausbern Construction, owned by Terry Ausbern, of Okolona, sought payment from the Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors for work his company did over three years ago on County Road 4 in Northwestern Chickasaw County.

The jury’s verdict specified the county must pay Ausbern $387,793.60 in construction costs and damages. The jury also awarded Ausbern $182,500 in damages from Chickasaw County Engineer Ed Springer.

The Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors will meet in a special called meeting Thursday at the Chickasaw County Courtroom in Okolona to discuss a possible appeal or how to pay the amount decreed by the court.

At the heart of the case was the payment for grading and resurfacing 1.39 miles of County Road 4. Ausbern’s bid of $396,566 for the work was accepted by the county and awarded on Nov. 23, 2010.

Ausbern’s attorneys entered evidence that the company failed to get $14.9 million in potential projects due to the unpaid bill’s impact on Ausbern’s bonding capacity.

Ausbern Construction is owned by the family of former Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors Attorney Elizabeth Ausbern. That circumstance prompted the county to hire the firm of Carnathan & McAuley, of Tupelo, to handle legal duties for the Board of Supervisors. Ausbern no longer serves as the board attorney.

The political nature of the case prompted the court to change the venue. Explaining the case involved the county, prominent elected officials, concerns of a tax increase and pre-trial publicity, Circuit Court Judge Andrew Howorth ruled last fall the trial would be moved from Chickasaw to Lafayette County.

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