The former owner of a Sauget aviation company is accused of violating multiple provisions of the contract detailing the sale of his business.
In response to a lawsuit first filed against Ideal Aviation LLC, the company filed a counterclaim against Cordell LaBrier on Oct. 15 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
In December 2011, Ideal Aviation Illinois entered into an asset purchase agreement with LaBrier, according to the complaint. The company says the contract set all terms related to the purchase of LaBrier's aviation business in Sauget.
During the negotiations for the sale of the business, Ideal Aviation says LaBrier represented that he was "not aware of any releases or spills of hazardous materials" on the property. However, in June 2011, while negotiations were ongoing, 20 to 50 gallons of jet fuel allegedly spilled at the business, resulting in a "critical violation notice" to be issued against the business by the airport. Ideal Aviation contends LaBrier had full knowledge of the spill and subsequent violation but "intentionally withheld notice of it."
Ideal Aviation claims LaBrier also failed to disclose that one of the company's biggest customers, Flight Express, intended to terminate its relationship with Ideal and move to an airport in Missouri. The new owners say that resulted in a $450,000 loss.
As part of the sales contract, LaBrier allegedly signed over all rights to the name "Ideal Aviation" and agreed to use it only to wrap up the affairs of the business in preparation of his exit. The new owners say they had t-shirts printed and distributed to all employees in April. On the shirts, LaBrier had printed a picture of his airplane and a statement about Ideal Aviation, including the company's name. The man is also accused of telling those employees he wished he had hadn't sold the company because the "buyers were 'screwing everything up.'"
Also in April, Ideal Aviation claims LaBrier "hijacked the website and domain name" and rerouted the company's online traffic to a different website for five days -- days the buyer say were critical because they had sent hundreds of invitations to a VIP event and open house using the same web address.
In August, LaBrier allegedly submitted a change-of-address form to the US Postal Service, requesting all mail addressed to Ideal Aviation be sent to his home address in Millstadt. As a result, the new owners say they missed a majority of their mail including invoices and payments.
Ideal Aviation says since taking over ownership, it has discovered the property is in "very poor condition," including several roof leaks, rodent-infested offices, termite damage and unsafe wiring. The new owners claim they have aircraft that was repaired improperly and is now unsafe and not airworthy. Vehicles and fuel systems were allegedly left in need of extensive maintenance.
Despite agreeing to leave all business-related records, LaBrier allegedly removed and retained them. The new owners of Ideal Aviation say they have no record of vendor or payment history. They say the former owner also agreed to pay more than $3,500 in property taxes but has allegedly failed to do so.
Ideal Aviation Illinois accuses LaBrier of a breach of contract, tortious interference with business relationships, trade name infringement and breach of fiduciary duty. The company contends it has suffered damages of more than $800,000 as direct result of LaBrier's action and is asking to be awarded more than $200,000.
Attorney Thomas A LeChien of Belleville represents Ideal Aviation.
St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-547