A Camas lighting supplier has filed suit in Clark County Superior Court to recover money it says is owed for work at Christensen Shipyards prior to the shipyard’s sale to Tennessee investor Henry Luken.
The company, which collapsed financially late last year, lost control of its finances this spring to a court-appointed receivership. The process of settling numerous claims against the company under its former ownership continues even as Luken has reopened the yacht manufacturer with just over 100 employees now at work.
Ecosafe Technologies LLC, doing business as Ecosafe Lighting, said in its lawsuit that it is owed $185,617 plus interest for labor and materials used in its work at the Christensen Shipyards property, 4400 S.E. Columbia Way. The company is asking for shipyard property as repayment of its bills. The property, which has a taxable value of $6.4 million, is owned by the Christensen Group Inc., a corporate entity that is separate from Christensen Shipyards Ltd., the yacht-making company. A Washington Secretary of State filing lists David Christensen as chairman, Kathryn Maynard as president and Patricia Withee as secretary-treasurer of Christensen Group Inc.
In the lawsuit filed earlier this month in Clark County Superior Court, Vancouver attorney Steven C. Andersen asks that the property be sold by the Clark County sheriff, and that Ecosafe be permitted to purchase the property.
The lawsuit adds to a string of legal claims against a company that went into receivership in the spring, but was purchased in late June by former half-owner Henry Luken, a Tennessee businessman. A Clark County Superior Court judge in June approved the sale of all of the company’s $5.5 million in assets to WIT Washington, a limited liability company overseen by Luken.
At that time, court-appointed receiver Miles Stover, founder and president of Gig Harbor-based Turnaround Inc., was assigned to use proceeds from the sale to settle the company’s unpaid rent, pay certain creditors, and resolve employee wage and benefit claims.
The Ecosafe lawsuit names Christensen Group Inc, 4400 Columbia Way Inc and “Holders of Beneficial interest in what was formerly known as 4400 Columbia Way, Inc.” In the lawsuit, Ecosafe says that it is not seeking judgment against Christensen Shipyards Ltd., which had operated the shipyard.
However, the biggest lawsuit is yet to come. Luken said this week that he is preparing to file a $20 million lawsuit as part of the receivership process. Luken said that’s the amount of money he’s owed by the company for “missing money” during the time he was half owner.
Luken said the company failed to provide him with accurate financial reports and that he still does not have access to company books and records now tied up in the receivership process.
“I had not been invited to board of directors meetings for four years,” he said. “I didn’t know they occurred.”
The shipyard, which once seemed destined for collapse, is now in “full operation” with 103 workers,” Luken said. Work is underway on two yachts, and one of those is nearly completed, he said. Two other yachts are in the pipeline, he said.