Volunteer Firemen Inc. (BSVF), the nonprofit organization providing fire
protection service to the Town of Beverly Shores, is seeking to settle its
litigation with Pine Township Trustee Tammy Watkins, who last fall
terminated BSVF’s 2019 contract to provide protection service to the entire
township, then entered into a contract with the Pines FD to provide that
The story so far:
into that new contract with the Pines FD on Sept. 30, after Porter Superior
Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer denied BSVF’s petition for a preliminary
injunction. She entered into it, moreover, against the express wishes of the
Pine Township Board.
On Nov. 4, the
board’s members filed a petition of their own seeking injunctive relief and
binding arbitration to settle the matter. "The intervening township board
members believe that the capabilities of the former contractor, Beverly
Shores Volunteer Firemen Inc., are superior to the capabilities of the Pines
Fire Department Inc.,” their petition states. And they “believe that the
Township Trustee has an irreconcilable conflict of interest due to her
relationships with the Pines Fire Department Inc. and its membership.”
Watkins’ husband is
the Pines FD chief and her son the deputy chief.
On Nov. 18, BSFV
filed an amended complaint against Watkins, accusing her of breach of
contract in connection with her termination of its 2019 contract, her
failure to pay compensation for the first nine months of 2019 when BSFV was
providing fire protection service to Pine Township, and her failure to
return equipment to BSFV which it believes it’s entitled to.
On Dec. 18, Clymer
denied the Pine Township Board’s petition for binding arbitration but
permitted BSVF to file an amended complaint.
And that’s where
the matter currently stands, as attorneys’ billable hours pile up.
wants done with it, and in a letter to Watkins’ attorney dated May 29,
BSVF’s attorney proposed a settlement agreement under which it would
withdraw its lawsuit in exchange for back compensation of $38,250 and return
of some equipment: a dozen self-contained breathing apparatuses still in the
Pine Township garage, and 1,000 feet of five-inch supply hose.
BSVF, for its own
part, would return 26 items of equipment currently in its possession to the
Pines FD and abandon any claims to all loose equipment still in the Pine
letter is an inventory of all equipment in the Pine Township garage and in
the BSVF’s possession.
“BSVF has no desire
to engage in further litigation in this matter,” the letter states. “It has
grown costly to BSVF, and the township surely has better uses of its funds
as well. At this point, BSVF is merely seeking to recover the $38,250 that
it should have been paid for the nine months of services it provided to the
township in 2019, and a few items of equipment in which it made a
substantial investment or what was rightfully given by the Pine Township
“BSVF is certainly
willing to return items that legitimately belong to the township, but it
will not be fruitful for either party to spend an excess of time and money
attempting to collect an inventory of items from a township asset list on
which the vast majority of said items are clearly shown to be past,
sometimes far past, their service life,” the letter adds. “The same goes for
the Pine Township Fire Department equipment, which was owned by an
independent entity that gifted most of its assets to BSVF.”
According to BSVF,
citing the Pine Township annual financial report for 2019, the Trustee’s
Office spent $20,294 last year in legal fees directly related to the change
in fire protection: that is, 53 percent of the amount in back compensation
which BSVF says The Trustee’s Office owes it.