Dayton in costly lawsuit with airport rental car companies

The city of Dayton is nearly eight months into an expensive legal battle with two rental car companies who sued the city about ongoing use of the parking garage at Dayton International Airport.

Dayton City Commission already has approved up to $600,000 in legal fees for Freund, Freeze & Arnold’s work on the case, anticipating more costs as the lawsuit goes forward in U.S. District Court.

The rental car companies, Avis and Budget, accuse the city of “bad faith repudiation of its contractual obligations.” In their complaint, they say the city signed agreements in 2008 and 2009 that created a 20-year, rent-free lease of first-floor space in the three-level parking garage, which was completed in 2010.

The rental car companies say that lease was created in part because they agreed to charge their customers a facility charge that helped to pay for construction of the garage.

But in November 2012, the city notified the rental car companies that their concession agreements would expire on Dec. 31, making other agreements automatically terminate on that date.

The city of Dayton, in its answer to the rental car companies’ lawsuit, “admits that part of the Agreement states that the Agreement expires 20 years from the garage completion date … but denies that is the only expiration date of the Agreement.”

The rental car companies originally asked for a restraining order so the city could not implement a new system, but the city agreed to maintain the status quo until the legal questions are resolved.

Since the original filing in November, the parties have fought over numerous legal issues, filing two dozen motions, responses and replies over expert witnesses, the validity of subpoenas and other issues. Both sides have filed motions for summary judgment, backed by hundreds of pages of exhibits.

U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice has scheduled a trial in the case for July 30. The rental car companies filed an amended complaint Monday, asking the court to protect them from retaliation, such as unfairly increased fees or being deprived of using necessary airport premises.

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