JWC suit heads to court Dec. 3

JENKINSVILLE – One of two pending lawsuits against the Jenkinsville Water Company and some of its directors appears headed for trial in less than a month.

Dec. 3 has been set as the trial date of the suit filed more than five years ago by Broad River Campground.

Mediation has been scheduled for Friday, Nov. 9 in Columbia, though both sides say the case likely won’t end there.

“It’s more than likely we’ll be ending up in court,” said Greg Ginyard, president of the Jenkinsville Water Company.

Ginyard’s remarks came prior to the water company’s monthly meeting Monday, which was canceled due to a lack of a quorum. Only three members, including Ginyard, were present.

Although the meeting never convened, Ginyard provided an informal update on the lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract over water services provided to Broad River Campground.

Ginyard declined further comment after the meeting, instead taking issue with The Voice’s coverage of the water company.

Dee Melton with Broad River Campground, who filed the suit, said he feels “extremely confident” as the Dec. 3 court date draws near.

In addition to the 2014 suit, Melton also has individually sued Ginyard and vice-chairman Joseph McBride. A circuit judge ruled over the summer that the two suits could be combined.

Both lawsuits allege violations of the S.C. Unfair Trade Practices Act, or SCUTPA, according to Fairfield County court records.

Broad River Campground states in its suit that JWC is contractually obligated to provide additional water capacity, citing a letter from the JWC as proof that a contract existed between the parties.

According to the letter, the JWC stated it could commit to 8,050 gallons per day. The campground has said that even with the extra water, it falls below the 8,050-gallon threshold.

“The water company will consider increasing our commitment, but only if that can be done without negatively impacting other customers of the water system,” the letter states.

The water consumption suits are in addition to a third lawsuit Melton filed in 2016, which alleges the JWC routinely violates the state’s Freedom of Information Act. That suit is still pending.

Attorneys for the JWC have denied the allegations in that lawsuit as well.

On Oct. 24, the water company filed a motion for summary judgment in the water consumption case, which restated the JWC’s previous position that it never entered into a contract with Broad River Campground.

“The alleged ‘contract,’ which Plaintiff attached as Exhibit 1 to the original Complaint, lacked mutual assent to indispensable and essential terms such as price, time of performance, and JWC’s specific obligations, if any, thereunder,” the motion states.

The motion further infers that even if a contract does exist, it should be dismissed on semantic grounds.

“It (the contract) only required the Company to ‘consider’ increasing its commitment to Plaintiff, and the undisputed evidence showed that JWC did so,” the motion continues. “Therefore, according to the plain language of the alleged contract, JWC complied with its obligation.”