Jury Reaches Verdict In River Valley Sports Complex Lawsuit, Awards Contractors Almost $200,000

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- A jury has reached a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the city of Fort Smith over a failed sports complex headed by Lee Webb Jr. and former state senator Jake Files.

River Valley Sports Complex unfinished construction.

The plaintiffs include four companies that are suing the city of Fort Smith because they were hired to help construct the River Valley Sports Complex at Chaffee Crossing.

By a vote of 11 to 1, the jury decided that Files and Lee were acting as the city's agent, so they awarded the four contractors the outstanding amount owed of about $200,000.

"It didn't take them very long to decide that the plaintiffs were entitled to the money that they had expended and the services they had provided," said attorney Derrick Allison, who represented all the suing parties including B&A Electric, MeGehee Fence Contracting, Grimes Dozer Service, and James Griffith.

Local company B&A Electric was owed the most of the four companies because of their work for the lights, light poles, electric service and concession stand at the River Valley Sports Complex.

"B&A Electric was owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000, and for a small business, a local small business, that's a huge amount of money to be out of pocket," Allison told 5NEWS.

Jake Files was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on fraud and money laundering charges on June 18, 2018. He admitted to taking thousands of dollars intended for construction of the sports complex.

5NEWS talked with Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Gefekin about what's next.

"What we will be doing now is I will be communicating and working with the city's attorney we have on the case to outline our options, and then I'll be discussing them with the board of directors."

City leaders terminated the sports complex project in 2017, but say they hope to have a plan for what to do with what's left of the River Valley Sports Complex by the end of 2018.

Fort Smith has thirty days to appeal the decision with the Court of Appeals.