DOTHAN - Enterprise City Councilman Turner Townsend combed through the city’s finances before and after being elected to his city council seat in August of 2016. The financial records for Enterprise weren’t the only numbers he was looking at in great detail in that same timeframe according to a lawsuit filed in Dothan on January 29, 2018.
Townsend, his brother Michael, and the family business, Townsend Building Supply, are being sued by Southern Lumber Supply and company president Jay Shipman.
The lawsuit stems back to September of 2016. Townsend Building Supply and Southern Lumber Supply were involved in business negotiations for Townsend to acquire Southern in a potential purchase agreement. Both Michael and Turner Townsend are said in the lawsuit to have been involved in the negotiating process with Shipman of Southern.
During the course of negotiations, the lawsuit states that the Townsends requested “extremely sensitive documents”. The documents detailed the business dealings for Southern Lumber Supply in great detail. Some examples of the documents stated include inventory numbers for the business, accounts for customers with the business, salaries for Southern employees and various trade secrets.
Shipman, according to the lawsuit, was concerned about sharing the files with his competitor, but did so reluctantly after the Enterprise City Councilman assured him the deal would be kept confidential.
The acquisition never happened, and one year later in August of 2017, Townsend Building Supply opened a store less than half a mile from the location of Southern Lumber Supply in Dothan on Murray Road.
Shipman’s lawsuit also claims that the confidential files sent over to Townsend for acquisition negotiations were used in business practices in the Dothan location of Townsend Building Supply to potentially close down the competitor.
Townsend Building Supply operates locations in Enterprise, Chipley, Ozark and Troy in addition to the Dothan location which is the cause for the lawsuit.
"We are in the process of speaking with our attorney and don't have much of an official response except to say we intend to vigorously defend these allegations," Michael Townsend said. "These allegations are false and there are many facts that have been omitted thus far that, when revealed, will shed much more light on this situation. We are looking forward to defending ourselves against these allegations. As soon as we have a more detailed statement we will release that to the media."
Turner Townsend, prior to being elected to the Enterprise City Council, formed a group called “Take Back Enterprise”. As part of the group’s purpose, Townsend met with interested parties in the city to discuss the city’s financial state. Townsend publicly hurled accusations of financial abuse at city leadership prior to the election cycle.
The councilman has also made headlines challenging the way the city council president is chosen. He disputed the method that eventually placed former councilman and current mayor, Bill Cooper, into the president position. The council president role turned out to be a very pivotal position as former mayor, Kenneth Boswell, resigned as mayor to join Governor Kay Ivey’s cabinet.