Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Key West Commissioners Stunned

Amazing. Today it was reported that Historic Tours of America had entered into a settlement with Duck Tours five days before the trial began. In that trial, HTA was being sued, along with co-defendent The City of Key West. This week, the jury ruled in favor of Duck Tours and awarded them $13.5 million, an island-rattling event. Immediately, commissioners were publicly asking "How much will they (HTA) chip in?". But today's press has revealed that HTA negotiated on it's own with the Ducks, and didn't include the city.
Probably the best piece of the story is Hugh Morgan, the HTA attorney. A week before the trial is set to begin, the City of Key West appoints him as their lead attorney for their defense. Strange, as it would seem to be a conflict of interest for him for him to not excuse himself from the trial. Oh, by the way, Morgan's law partner is Jim Hendrick, recently arrested by the FBI and IRS. And, Morgan is the Federal Magistrate for Key West.
Now city officials are hopping mad. Their favorite son, Historic Tours of America, has cost them a fortune. And the worst part may now be unfolding: they got cut out of a settlement. The attorney they went with may have negotiated a settlement for his other client/co-defendent (HTA) while not including them. Commissioner Harry Bethel, known for his tenacious attitude, is looking for blood. One thing seems certain: the fat-cat, monopolistic, overwhelmingly influencial days of the Conch Tour Train and Trolley is over.
Still yet to happen, the judge will soon rule on the validity of the contract HTA has with the City of Key West.
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