Judge grants stay in Commander eviction but requires bond

Sunday, October 9, 2011
Commander Premier Aircraft Corp. is still operating in the 52,000-square-foot municipally-owned hangar at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport on Sept. 26, 2011. (Fred Lynch)

BENTON, Mo. -- A Scott County judge granted Commander Premier Aircraft Corp. a stay of execution Friday afternoon, blocking an attempt by Cape Girardeau officials to evict the company from city-owned property at the airport.

But there's one major condition: Commander will need to come up with a bond in excess of $140,000 by Tuesday for the order to stop the eviction. If a bond isn't secured, the eviction will proceed.

A lawyer for Commander filed an application for the stay Friday, and Judge Scott Horman signed the order shortly afterward. Horman set a hearing to consider Commander's arguments for at 9 a.m. Oct. 17 in Benton.

When city manager Scott Meyer heard the news, he sighed.

"This is fun," he said, meaning exactly the opposite. "It's always interesting that they have money to pay an attorney and all that, but they don't have money to pay rent."

It's Commander's right, Meyer said, to use the courts to find a solution to a problem that has been ongoing for six months. But it's exasperating, he said, to hear that the company is spending money on fighting eviction even as it owes the city $827,000.

"What they're doing doesn't come without cost," Meyer said. "And yet they haven't made a payment since I've been city manager."

Commander's court filing notes that it filed a motion to set aside the city's default judgment -- granted by Horman on Sept. 26 -- on Wednesday, one day before the order of eviction's 10-day waiting period expired.

The application claims that if Commander is evicted, the value of the corporation would be diminished by at least $3 million. Commander maintains Federal Aviation Administration parts manufacturer approval and if the company's possession of the facility is interrupted, that status is in danger, according to the application.

The company also has an FAA-approved Quality Assurance program, which covers all parts, products and materials used in the production of all models of Commander's aircraft. In order to keep that program, Commander must maintain "constant, continuous possession and control of their facility," the document says.

Without those FAA designations, Commander's inventory cannot be sold without part-by-part certification by an FAA representative.

The company's lawyer in this matter, Bryan Wade of Springfield, Mo., did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The news came Friday as the city was on the verge of evicting Commander. Meyer was coordinating the effort with the Scott County Sheriff's Department to forcibly remove the company's few employees from the hangar at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

Meyer said before Friday's news he believed it could happen Saturday, even after a clerical error delayed the eviction until Saturday at the earliest.

Scott County Circuit Clerk Christy Hency said that a wrong date was affixed to court paperwork that was sent to the Scott County Sheriff's Department ordering the eviction. The paperwork would allow the sheriff's department to accompany a city official and forcibly remove Commander employees from the hangar the bankrupted company hasn't paid rent on since 2007.

"There was a clerical error and we are working on it," Hency said Friday morning. But after the judge signed the stay, Hency said the corrected paperwork would not be delivered.

Now, another court date and more waiting.

"It's just adding to the frustration," Mayor Harry Rediger said. "At least they didn't make the hearing a year from now."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

131 S. Winchester, Benton, MO

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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