Sec of state candidate faces lawsuit
LAS VEGAS (AP) – A candidate running for Nevada secretary of state is being sued over the sale of a small airplane.
The plaintiff says the plane he bought from Rob Lauer was missing parts, was damaged and had been used more than was disclosed. Another lawsuit against Lauer over a different aircraft is being settled out of court.
Lauer denies any wrongdoing.
“I’ve probably bought and sold dozens and dozens of aircraft and trucks and engines and all sorts of stuff. Probably 100,” said Lauer, 39. “If we have a dispute over one aircraft or two, I don’t think that is unrealistic in business nowadays.”
Lauer was the only Republican to file for secretary of state before Friday’s deadline. He faces Democratic incumbent Ross Miller in November’s general election.
According to court documents, Lauer sold a 1979 Piper Archer II aircraft for $72,000 to John Gruber of Broward County, Florida. The lawsuit says mechanics who inspected the plane after the sale reported dozens of missing parts, damage from a possible hard landing and more usage than was disclosed in logbooks.
Lauer was arrested in July 2007 in Florida on a second-degree theft charge related to the sale, but the charge was dismissed for jurisdictional reasons. Gruber filed suit in San Bernardino County, Calif., where the sale originated.
“He sold it as an aircraft that was completely refurbished,” Gruber told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a story published Sunday. “When I had a mechanic inspect the plane (in California), we found out it was total junk.”
Lauer said Gruber had unrealistic expectations about the Piper and accuses him of manipulating Florida authorities into pressing criminal charges to gain leverage in the lawsuit.
The case is scheduled for trial June 21 in San Bernardino County Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga, said Eric Gowey, Gruber’s California attorney.
The second airplane dispute was filed Dec. 24 locally in District Court.
According to court documents, T. Graham Capital LLC states it bought a 1971 Hawker Siddeley plane from Lauer for $65,000, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars refurbishing it and later found out “the aircraft was never owned” by Lauer’s company, Aero Network of French Valley Inc.
Lauer said the dispute is over old liens against the aircraft that he is close to clearing.
An attorney for T. Graham Capital said there is a proposed, confidential settlement that would resolve the breach of contract lawsuit.
Lauer is also being sued in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California over back rent on a storage space he rented in New Mexico.
Lauer, an Army reservist and military policeman, sought to break his lease under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act. Court records allege Lauer failed to properly notify the owner of his activation, as required under the act.
Lauer said he sent notification via certified mail, but doesn’t have the receipt.