One of the things the Indy reported in April after researching Green Investment Group, Inc., the company that acquired the Frenchtown mill, is that the Illinois-based paper-mill scrapper and redeveloper often finds itself embroiled in litigation.
Wouldn't you know it, our story then ended up in a lawsuit.
In June 2011, Washington-based VanTek, Inc., a supplier of used paper mill equipment, sued GIGI for breach of contract. About two years earlier, VanTek, owned by Gordon Cassie, signed an agreement with GIGI to partner in buying former paper mills, creating a company called VanGreen. VanTek claimed it spent 18 months working to acquire the Frenchtown mill through VanGreen only to have GIGI pull out of their agreement at the last minute and acquire it separately. VanTek said GIGI exploited its expertise.
But VanTek pulled the suit, because, as VanTek's attorney wrote in an email to GIGI's attorney, it "appears that GIGI is headed for insolvency and will likely never be able to pay back any judgment."
Cassie forwarded that email to the Indy, and we included it in our story.
Cassie regrets sending it. GIGI subsequently filed a claim of civil contempt, arguing that Cassie erred in reviewing confidential financial materials, and then "deriving an opinion from those confidential financial materials, and then disclosing and disseminating that opinion to third parties, including a reporter for the Missoula Independent newspaper."
Evidently you can't do that. GIGI requested a retraction of the statement. That retraction appeared in the form of a full-page paid advertisement in the Indy on Nov. 1. Cassie said in the ad, "I regret making any statements or any harm that I may have caused."
Days later, GIGI and VanTek settled the suit, which had flipped from GIGI's alleged wrongdoing to VanTek's.
"We are pleased to have settled with VanTek, Inc., in an attempt to undo any potential damage that may have been done to our reputation in the Missoula, Montana region," GIGI President Ray Stillwell said in a statement. "Redeveloping an industrial site in this bleak economy is challenging enough. Add to it mishandled and misinterpreted information communicated to members of the media, and it can add several steps to our progress to bring new jobs to the region."