LG and Black Canyon reach deal

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The town of Lodge Grass has reached an agreement with Black Canyon, LLC absolving the town from paying a $4.3 million settlement ordered by Montana 22nd Judicial District Court in September said Lodge Grass Mayor Quincy Dabney.

News of the initial judgement against the town almost made his heart drop out of his chest, Dabney said.

The town was ordered to pay the settlement for breach of contract stemming from a February 2018 agreement between the town and Black Canyon for work on the Lodge Grass Waste Water project, which would have given the town of Lodge Grass a newer and more efficient wastewater treatment lagoon. Town officials signed a contract with Black Canyon to remove 715 dry metric tons of sludge and organic material from the site. The actual amount of slug removed turned out to be almost double the amount agreed upon.

“What should of happened is once the contractor removed the 714 dry metric tons and realized there was a lot more to be removed, a change order of conditions should have been brought to the town and engineers attention,” said Dabney.

A motion was made to sue the town of Lodge Grass, however, the legal council for the town government, according to Dabney “was the legal for the contractors when the LLC was first established, who also had a falling out with them.

They missed many court dates and this, combined with their failure to respond to legal motions, resulted in the district court awarding a default judgement to Black Canyon.

“(Lodge Grass) had nowhere to get that kind of money,” Dabney said.

After the town received the judgement the outlook seemed grim, he added.

In a twist of fate, and in an almost miraculous save for Lodge Grass, the town had received “amazing news” according to Dabney.

The Foundation for Community Vitality, a non-profit organization from Billings, agreed to assist the town government, assisting with the payment for the retainer fee to the Sullivan-Miller Law Firm. With Sullivan and Miller Law Firm acting as the mediator, both parties than came to a mutual agreement to sue the Lodge Grass’ former legal counsel for malpractice.

It was also mutually decided by both parties to pursue legal action against the contractors who removed excess sludge outside of their contractual obligations without communications to the town officials or Black Canyon.

“Now LG is free from those potential chains,” Dabney said, “but it reminded us to keep up the good fight and keep the faith that is needed to bring back the beautiful town of Lodge Grass - the Valley Of The Chiefs.”