BARTOW — A lawyer for the former president of Fleetwing Corp. accused the company's lawyer Monday of delay tactics in the breach-of-contract trial that has lasted six days so far.
"It looks to me like we're not going to get this trial done," said Jim Valenti, the lawyer for former president David Ricketts. "I don't know what they're trying to do, but it looks like they don't want it done."
Ricketts sued the Lakeland-based fuel-distributing company in January 2016, claiming he was owed more than $3 million in back pay. President since 1989 following the death of founder and owner Wally Smith, Ricketts grew the company in sales from $17 million to $140 million, according to the lawsuit. He was fired by a new board of family heirs and their friends in 2015.
Circuit Judge Steven Selph at noon Friday had told Fleetwing lawyer Angelina Whittington she had until end of the day to finish presenting her case. Selph said the length of the trial has become a scheduling issue.
"You run out of time and you may be done," Selph told Whittington. "You've got today and you got Friday, and I can't tell you any more than that."
Because of scheduling conflicts this week, testimony in the trial was to occur only on Monday and Friday. Selph said he thought all of last week would have been enough time.
After Ricketts' firing, Cecilia Smith McGinnis and her friend, Mary Ann Troiano, and Troiano's husband, Andy Wike, helped run the company.
McGinnis took trips on the company's credit card to such destinations as the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead outside of Atlanta. She paid Troiano $1 million in consulting fees and hired Wike as the new president for an annual salary of $880,000. Rickets had been paid $367,000.
Marvenia Grimes, an employee at Fleetwing who oversaw the use of company credit cards at the Fleetwing convenience store, testified that before McGinnis began running the company, the cards were typically for drivers who filled up their tanks and for Ricketts.
But once McGinnis and Troiano began running the company, credit cards were made for McGinnis, Troiano, Wike and children of McGinnis and Wike.
The discussion of a scheduling conflict came up Monday after a long cross examination by Whittington of Ricketts.
Whittington questioned Ricketts extensively about Andy Smith, McGinnis' brother and another Wally Smith heir. Fleetwing family heirs have said one reason Ricketts was fired was his lack of action against Andy Smith.
Whittington's questions focused on why Ricketts didn't fire Andy Smith when he rarely came to work but continued to collect a salary of about $300,000.
Ricketts has said he and former Fleetwing attorney Bob Puterbaugh wanted to fire Smith. But Ricketts needed unanimous board support to fire Smith and two board members loyal to the family wouldn't agree to terminate him.
"It's not time now," Rickets said the board members told him. "He needs more time."
"It's hard to train somebody who doesn't show up for work," Ricketts said. "I couldn't be a family counselor to him and go to his house everyday."