All that’s left to decide are the damages

School board to discuss upcoming ServPro lawsuit over unpaid flood cleanup expenses

The Minot Public School Board will meet in executive session Thursday to discuss a lawsuit going to trial on Jan. 8. They will meet following the regular board meeting at 4 p.m. in the board room of the Minot Public School District Administration Building.

Storm Team Robbins, LLC, doing business as ServPro of the SeaCoast, is suing the school district for about $1.9 million in unpaid expenses. The district hired ServPro to clean up flood-damaged schools following the Souris River flood of 2011. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed most of the district’s expenses, but not all of it. Minot Public Schools claimed that ServPro’s owner told the district that his company would not charge anything over and above what FEMA paid. ServPro disputed that and sued for damages. A judge ruled earlier this fall that the Minot Public Schools breached its contract with ServPro and the only thing left to be decided at trial is the amount that ServPro will be awarded in damages.

Judge Billy Roy Wilson, U.S. Senior District Court judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas, is now the presiding judge in the case. Judge Daniel Hovland had previously been the presiding judge in the case.

While Minot Public Schools had asked for as much as nine days to try the case, Wilson ordered the two sides to pare anticipated cross and direct examinations of witnesses and cut the trial to three days or less since it is a “damages-only case.”

“If the parties cannot reach an agreement, I will do the paring myself,” wrote Wilson in his order. “I don’t like to do this but ‘I ain’t too good to.’ “

ServPro and Minot Public Schools were not able to reach an agreement on cutting testimony time by the judge’s deadline of Dec. 1. Both sides submitted amended witness lists, but lawyers for the Minot Public School District maintain in their filing that two or three days is insufficient. The lawyers wrote that they will need nine days.

“Cross-examination of Plaintiff alone is estimated to take one and (a) half days,” wrote defense attorney Sarah E. Wall. “In addition, there are thousands of pages of documents for the invoices and supporting backup documentation that will be admitted as evidence, which will require significant time for (Minot Public Schools) to address completely. As a result (Minot Public Schools) requests the Court consider its plan to hold trial for only two to three days.”

The district is represented by Smith Porsborg Schweigert Armstrong Modenhauer and Smith of Bismarck.

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