A Gulf Coast business says the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources brought in a boat for repairs and refitting and now the company wants to be paid $93,325 for work on the 45-foot cabin cruiser. That’s according to a lawsuit filed in Harrison County Circuit Court.
The Sun Herald reports that the business, Competition Marine, which has worked on a number of MDMR vessels, is suing the state agency and any unknown parties with an interest in the boat, called the Laura C.
Competition Marine said it received the boat in April of 2012. It is asking a judge to find the company has a valid lien on the boat for refitting and repairs plus unspecified amounts for boat maintenance and storage. The lawsuit also seeks a court order allowing the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office to seize and sell the boat, or give the company title to it, to satisfy the debt.
Gulfport attorney Richard C. Smith, who represents Competition Marine, said the Laura C’s registration lapsed several years ago, with no known owner. Smith said the MDMR employee or employees who dropped off the boat said the refitting and repairs were for the MDMR.
“We can’t figure out who owns this boat,” Smith said. “We just need to determine if the DMR has any interest in that vessel. We’re treating it as an abandoned vessel.”
He said the last people who expressed any interest in the boat was MDMR.
MDMR spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said MDMR never had a lease on the Laura C.
The DMR leased two other boats, the Californian and Topaz, from the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation, an entity managed by Bill Walker. Walker was fired in January amid allegations of mismanagement. Some of those allegations involved the Californian and Topaz, which were sold at auction.
Walker has denied any wrongdoing.
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