The State Supreme Court building on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Town has hired a law firm to defend the lawsuit brought last month by Calverton Aviation & Technology. 

The Town Board is expected to approve a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting ratifying the appointment of Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman of Hauppauge as special counsel in the State Supreme Court action that seeks to enforce the purchase agreement between the town and Calverton Aviation & Technology.

Certilman Balin was one of four law firms interviewed by the Town Board at length last Monday during a special work session. The board convened in executive session to discuss the litigation with prospective law firms. 

Glenn Gruder, a partner at Certilman Balin, filed a notice of appearance on Friday afternoon on behalf of the Town of Riverhead, the Riverhead Community Development Agency and the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency, the three defendants named in the suit by Calverton Aviation & Technology.

The resolution before the Town Board Tuesday ratifies the retention of Certilman Balin “to defend and appear in the action on behalf of the Town of Riverhead, the Town of Riverhead Community Development Agency and the Town of Riverhead Industrial Development Agency.”

In an interview Monday afternoon, Supervisor Tim Hubbard said the law firm is going to represent all three defendants to start, but the Riverhead IDA may “have to go off on their own.”

The Town of Riverhead is covering the legal fees for the defense to start out, Hubbard said. But it’s too early to know whether or not that will continue, he said. 

CAT is seeking a judgment directing the Town of Riverhead Community Development Agency to transfer 1,644 acres of vacant industrial land inside the Calverton Enterprise Park, which the town agreed to sell to CAT, an affiliate of Triple Five Group, for $40 million in the November 2018 purchase agreement. CAT is also seeking money damages to compensate it for the town’s alleged breach of contract.

In the lawsuit, Calverton Aviation & Technology is asking the court to set aside resolutions adopted by the Town Board on Oct. 24 declaring the contract with CAT null and void. It is also asking the court to annul the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency’s resolution of Oct. 23, relied upon by the  town, denying CAT’s application for financial assistance. CAT argues that the RIDA acted illegally to deny financial assistance without first holding a public hearing, and arbitrarily by not considering all of the evidence before it.

CAT sues Riverhead Town, seeking to enforce contract in $40 million Calverton land deal

“Right now, the town is paying for the legal fees, but we have to see where the IDA is going to — where their play is going to come into this,” Hubbard said.

The town might indemnify the RIDA, Hubbard said. 

Asked what that would look like, the supervisor said, “It could change whether we’re paying for them, or whether they pay for themselves. I would say it’s most probably going to be the town paying for it. But we haven’t determined that yet.”

Hubbard said the board discussed the possible joint representation of the town and the IDA with each of the law firms.

“And they all said basically the same thing. We have to wait and see yet. Let’s get a little bit more into this,” he said.

“And chances are the IDA is going to have its own representation. But we haven’t determined that yet. That’s going to be done now. That’s one of the reasons they asked for an extension of time,” Hubbard said, explaining that the attorneys are seeking additional time to respond to the complaint, which, according to court filings, was served on all parties as of Jan. 19.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.