Chapin attorney says Mayor owes $7,500 for legal services - - Columbia, South Carolina

Chapin attorney says Mayor owes $7,500 for legal services

Former Chapin Attorney David Knight tells city council he hasn't been paid and is told by the mayor he is out of order Former Chapin Attorney David Knight tells city council he hasn't been paid and is told by the mayor he is out of order

Chapin's mayor is named the defendant in another complaint – this time it is for supposedly not paying the town's utility attorney.

Utility Attorney David Knight filed a complaint May 30 against Mayor James "Skip" Wilson Jr. Knight served as Chapin's town attorney from July 7, 1987, until Dec. 31, when he retired from that position. However, he prepared a contract at the request of former Mayor Stan Shealy to serve as the town's utility attorney, according to court documents. The contract for Knight's services as utility attorney was unanimously approved by Town Council at a meeting Dec. 3, prior to his official retirement date.

Knight alleges in the complaint that he submitted invoices to the town for $1,500 a month. According to the court document, Knight claims the utility clerk prepared checks to pay him, but that Wilson refused to sign the checks.

Knight has not been paid for his legal services since January, despite representing the town as its utility attorney and providing legal updates at town council meetings. The past due amount owed to Knight is $7,500, the complaint states.

Knight is asking for the court to order Wilson to pay him the $7,500 in back payments, as well as the cost accrued from filing the court action.

Wilson is also currently named a defendant in a lawsuit filed by town clerk Adrienne Thompson. Thompson also filed her lawsuit against the mayor May 30 for defaming her character and retaliating against her for being a whistle-blower.

Wilson has not responded to either of the complaints as of this report and has not returned a call made by WIS. However, WIS received an email from Chapin's Communications and Economic Development Director Karen Owens regarding the complaint filed by Knight.

"Mr. Knight has been repeatedly told what recourse he could take to resolve this matter, and he has chosen to not take any action other than to file another lawsuit that remains a distraction for all involved," Owens wrote. "There have been several discussions between Mr. Knight and the mayor since January about the validity of the contract signed and approved by Council in December because Mr. Knight signed it as the town's attorney and representing himself in this new role as utility attorney, which is an expressed conflict of interest."

Owens continued in her email stating that Knight was requested to "draft a new contract to remove the conflicting and ambiguous payment term arrangements" and to clarify "confusing terms" in the contract with the town.

"The town has always maintained the position it would pay Mr. Knight for all services rendered once a new contract was written," Owens said.

Owens also said that Knight apparently agreed to allowing the town to prepare a new contract for his services as utility attorney, but "without notifying the town of his new intent, Mr. Knight filed the lawsuit."

Knight says there is nothing wrong with his contract that the council approved in December and he simply wants to be paid what he is owed.

Three Town Council members also filed a lawsuit against the mayor, Councilman Gregg White and the Town of Chapin earlier this year concerning issues with how Wilson was operating the town. That case was dismissed, but WIS recently discovered that the town paid about $23,000 of taxpayer money to the attorney for the defendants' legal services from that lawsuit. Wilson said nothing illegal was done by using town money to pay the legal fees and expects insurance to pay back most of the $23,000.

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