CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A company owned by Gov. Jim Justice and his family says it wanted to settle a $4 million debt by selling a helicopter, but the lender hasn’t been cooperating.
James C. Companies, Justice Aviation — and the governor personally — were sued in the Southern District of New York in September over default on a loan for the companies’ private helicopter.
A little more than $4 million is remaining on the loan. The plaintiff, Citizens Asset Finance, wants to foreclose and take back the helicopter.
In an answer filed on Friday, lawyers for Justice and his companies ask for the complaint to be dismissed. They also ask to be granted a counterclaim.
The lawyers said Justice Aviation had been trying to resolve the matter by selling the helicopter.
“In an effort to minimize potential exposure to Citizens, in 2017 JA began investigating the possibility of selling the Aircraft on the secondary market and using the proceeds to pay down its obligation to Citizens,” lawyers for Justice wrote.
“The secondary market for helicopters is fluid and fast moving, with aircraft becoming available regularly and decisions about purchases made quickly.”
The lawyers wrote that this past July 6, Justice Aviation received a written, signed offer to purchase the aircraft for $2.2 million but still needed Citizens Asset to agree.
The lawyers for Justice wrote that the deal was communicated to Citizens Asset that day and then again on July 11. By July 12, Citizens Asset communicated its assent.
“Unfortunately, by July 12, the offeror had decided to pursue another aircraft and had rescinded the offer,” wrote the lawyers for Justice.
After that, the lawyers wrote, Citizens Asset consented to selling the helicopter for $2.1 million. That sale closed.
“As a result of the lower sale price for the Aircraft, Citizens has increased its demands against the defendants, including JA,” the lawyers wrote.
The lawyers argue Citizens Assent had an obligation not to act unreasonably.
“By failing to promptly determine whether it would consent to the $2.2 million sale, Citizens breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing in its agreements with JA, and JA has been damaged as a result,” the lawyers wrote.
Justice Aviation took out a loan on Dec. 30, 2009, for an AgustaWestland S.p.A. model A109S helicopter and two Pratt and Whitney Canada model PW207C helicopter engines.
Justice Aviation then leased the aircraft to James C. Justice Companies.
The full amount was…