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City of Hillview v. Truck America Training, LLC

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

March 7, 2014

CITY OF HILLVIEW APPELLANT
v.
TRUCK AMERICA TRAINING, LLC; JAMES CARTER AND DEBORAH CARTER APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM BULLITT CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE RODNEY BURRESS, JUDGE ACTION NO. 05-CI-00374

BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: Gregg Y. Neal, Mark E. Edison

BRIEF FOR APPELLEES: Andrew G. Beshear, Cassandra J. Wiemken, J. Scott Wantland

BEFORE: COMBS, DIXON, AND VANMETER, JUDGES.

OPINION

DIXON, JUDGE

In this breach of contract action, the City of Hillview ("City") appeals from a judgment of the Bullitt Circuit Court following a bench trial on the issue of liability and a jury trial on damages. The trial court concluded the City breached a land purchase contract with Truck America Training, LLC ("Truck America"), and a jury awarded Truck America damages as a result of the City's breach. Finding no error, we affirm.

This litigation has previously been before this Court on Truck America's appeal of summary judgment granted in favor of the City. Truck America Training, LLC v. City of Hillview, 2007 WL 866694 (Ky. App. 2007) (2006-CA-000727-MR). At issue in that appeal was the enforceability of the lease-purchase contract executed by James and Deborah Carter to purchase a forty-acre site from the city for $800, 000.00. A panel of this Court vacated the summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. Our prior opinion stated, in relevant part:

In its memorandum supporting its motion for summary judgment, the City presented evidence of the following sequence of events. In December 1998, the City of Hillview conveyed a 40-acre tract of unimproved land located at 364 Ferguson Lane in Bullitt County to the Kentucky League of Cities Funding Trust for $800, 000.00. The Trust immediately leased the property back to the City, and the City paid the Trust between $75, 000.00 and 76, 000.00 annually in rent for the property. Since the rent payments were a financial drain on the City, it was eager to find a sub-lessee.
In early 1999, the City's mayor, Leemon Powell, negotiated a lease agreement for the Ferguson Lane property with Homeplate Enterprises. Difficulties developed, and litigation between the City and Homeplate resulted. Mayor Powell testified by deposition that by that time, he "tried to get anybody I could to buy it." Deposition at 10.
Mayor Powell then negotiated an agreement with Jim and Debby Carter and George and Vivian Cambron. The parties anticipated that the site would be used as a training facility for the operation of tractor-trailers and other heavy equipment. The Trust agreed to permit the City to re-purchase the parcel for its immediate re-sale, and the Mayor proceeded to consummate the deal.
On January 29, 2002, the City executed an agreement prepared by the City Attorney entitled "lease-purchase offer, " which was approved by the City Council. . . .
. . . .
While Truck America was never identified by name in the agreement, the company took possession of the property. Truck America and another limited liability company, American Heavy Equipment Training, remitted monthly lease payments to the City beginning December 30, 2002. According to Mayor Powell, "Truck America and the Carters were the same people." Deposition at 13.
The outstanding litigation with Homeplate Enterprises referenced in the parties' agreement was concluded in the fall of 2004. By letter to the City dated October 7, 2004, Truck America, the Carters, and the Cambrons expressed their eagerness to complete the purchase of the property and requested a closing date. By this time, the City was under a new administration. No ...

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