(Baton Rouge, LA - WAFB) Do you remember the battle that's been raging since Hurricane Katrina involving Bourget's of the South, a motorcycle shop in Norco that morphed into the trailer business? Bourget's sold $120 million worth of trailers to FEMA and others after the hurricane. Bourget's was fined $46,000 for allegedly not having the proper licenses to sell the trailers. Bourget's once again pleaded its case before the state commission that licenses RV dealers.
Bourget's, operated by Glen Smith in Norco, had their chief attorneys before the Used Car and Recreational Vehicle Commission Tuesday, hoping that an executive session might produce a settlement after years of litigation. In a 10-3 vote after a three-hour executive session, Bourget's was cleared of all charges of not having had proper licensing for the sale of trailers to FEMA and will not be required to pay the $46,000 fine that had been levied. It was a good day for Bourget's and for Glen Smith as he waited for results of the executive session. "Well, what we are looking for is to get the commission to look at the law that was in place at the time, which allowed us to have the licensing that we had to do what we did," Smith says.
Attorney Loren Kleinpeter represented RV dealers who felt they had never gotten a level playing field. He was not satisfied that the commission chose a settlement over a shot at the Louisiana Supreme Court. "We don't understand that. We don't understand why things are going on back door. We don't understand it. We don't like it," he says. An escalating debate between lawyers almost got out of hand preceding the executive session. Bourget's attorney, Robert Ates, got a bit overexcited toward a commission member he felt should have been recused from the executive session and removed from the board.
"This man is in conflict of interest and has a personal agenda. Excuse me sir, I'm not finished," Ates says. "You are out of order," the commission member says. "Don't tell me I'm out of order. That belongs to the chair. You sir have recused yourself from representation in this matter because of your misconduct sir," Ates says. Other than that outburst and a couple of visits from the police officer, the entire Bourget's saga has now become a part of Katrina and FEMA trailer history. The commission's settlement means no more court litigation. Bourget's is free to go.
Bourget's was also in the process of being sued by the state Department of Revenue for some $415,000 in use taxes, penalties and interest. The $414,000 would be the result of Bourget's not having a license to do business. Since the used car commission now says there was a proper license, the lawsuit by the state seeking the back taxes will likely be dropped. That's yet to be ironed out.
Reporter: Paul Gates, WAFB 9NEWS