Baltimore County Loses Appeal Of Petroleum Lawsuit

… County may owe more than $700,000; county attorney reviewing federal ruling …

By Raven L. Hill, The Baltimore Sun

7:08 PM EST, January 12, 2011

Baltimore County lost an appeal of a wrongful contract termination lawsuit brought by a former petroleum vendor in federal court Wednesday, potentially leaving the county on the hook for more than $700,000.

The county attorney is reviewing the ruling, said spokeswoman Ellen Kobler.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., ruled against the county in a lawsuit brought by Petroleum Traders Corp. According to the petroleum company, attorneys for the county argued that the contract with the Fort Wayne, Ind.,-based company was invalid because it had not been properly approved by local officials.

The contract breach accusations stem from Petroleum Traders’ refusal to lock in gasoline and diesel fuel costs as it had done in the past after they fell in late 2005, among other issues, according to the county. Petroleum Traders was awarded $468,726 in damages and $121,670 in lost profits plus interest after a four-day trial last May in U.S. District Court.

Attorneys for the petroleum company said county officials tried to back out of the contract claiming it wasn’t properly signed as required by the county’s charter and county code, although the county entered into more than 5,600 contracts in the same way from 2004 to 2007.

All county contracts are now signed by the administrative officer and attorney, Kobler said.

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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