UPDATE: Former Piper chief spokesman sues for breach of contract

UPDATE – 4  p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Former Piper chief spokesman Mark Miller filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming the aircraft maker owes $140,000 in lost payments to his company the Carlisle Group.

Miller worked under contract for Piper since 2001 in his capacity as CEO of Carlisle Group as a full-service public relations and marketing consultant. He also claims the company damaged his reputation as an aviation spokesperson by deliberately misleading him. “Miller was unaware the statements Carlisle was directed to make were misrepresentations that will now harm the reputation of both Carlisle and Carlisle President and CEO Mark Miller in Carlise’s attempt to retain current clients and attract new clients,” the complaint stated.

The suit does not go into detail about when or what misstatements Miller made to the media.

“As to specifics misstatements on the advice of my attorney, I’m not at liberty to elaborate, but it will all come out in the appropriate venue,” Miller said.

A Piper spokesperson said the company has not been served and is still waiting to see a copy of the lawsuit.

“Although we have not been served with the lawsuit allegedly filed against us by the Carlisle Group, we have been reviewing allegations that are now being reported in the media,” said Piper Vice President of Human Resources, Steve Johnston.  “Those reported allegations are false and completely without merit. If they are, in fact, part of a legal action against Piper, we will vigorously contest those allegations.”

The suit claims that Miller had provided public relations and marketing services to Piper since 2001 and was working on a year-to-year contract with the company.

It states that on June 7 he was contacted by now former CEO Kevin Gould by phone and was told that the contract was being terminated.

“The only reason given was that Piper could no longer afford to pay Carlisle’s agreed to monthly fee due to financial difficulties Piper was again experiencing and, consequently, was forced to bring the public relations and marketing work being done by Carlisle in-house,” according to the complaint.

“My company worked under contract with Piper for almost 10 years and still had a contract in effect, when we were told Piper could no longer afford to use our services (on June 7),” Miller said.  “That contract is supposed to run until the end of the year and where I come from a contract is a contract and a handshake means something.”

The suit also states that Miller was told previous to his termination that he was lucky because the company was six months behind in payments to some vendors, but was “contemplating paying more than $65,000 in past due fees and expenses over the remaining course of the year.”

The suit claims that the contract should have been in force through Dec. 31, 2010, and Piper  did not have cause to end the working relationship before the end of the year and thus was in breach of the contract.

The suit, filed in the 19th Circuit Court, asks for a jury trial, $140,000 in lost payments, court costs, and “any other relief the Court may deem just and proper.”

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