SCLA’s biggest employer files claim against Victorville
By Brooke Edwards
STAFF WRITER

VICTORVILLE • They’re already at the center of a $200 million RICO claim against the city and of a $36 million difference in opinion between Victorville’s last two auditors.

Now a set of hangars at Southern California Logistics Airport has triggered another claim against the city, with Leading Edge Aviation Services — the largest employer at SCLA — asking for more than $1 million it says was lost after the city leased the same space twice.

The council is expected to deny that claim during tonight’s meeting, though spokeswoman Yvonne Hester said the city declined to comment per its usual policy on pending litigation.

In 2006, Leading Edge began leasing a hangar from the city to paint and overhaul airplanes for the biggest airlines in the world. The company quickly realized it was going to need more space for its growing business, the claim included in tonight’s agenda states, and began talks with Victorville to take on another hangar.

The claim states the city signed a five-year lease and began customizing a second wide-body hangar for Leading Edge in January 2007.

But later that year, the claims states that FedEx approached the city and asked if it could lease the hangar for 12 months. The three parties then reached an agreement, the claim says, allowing FedEx to lease the hangar for a year with Victorville covering Leading Edge’s loss in profits for moving scheduled work to other facilities

Expecting FedEx to turn the space back over in January of this year, the claim states Leading Edge began signing contracts for new projects that required the use of the hangar — and with no available back-up plan, with the company’s other four painting facilities across the county also 100 percent booked.

Instead, in December 2008 the complaint states that former airport manager Peter Soderquist told Leading Edge the city wouldn’t be letting the company take possession of the hangar the next month “nor on any date certain thereafter,” and “refused to recompense” Leading Edge for any profits lost as a result.

As of June, the claim states that move had already cost Leading Edge “over a million dollars in out-of-pocket costs and penalties.”

FedEx still occupies that hangar today, and Leading Edge continues to try and squeeze more contracts and employees into its current space at SCLA.

Brooke Edwards may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.