The vendor which used to service the Township of Jackson with an OPRA request fulfillment service has slammed the Township with a lawsuit alleging non-payment for 2 years.

The Township is now counter-claiming that the matter is not at all as simple as it seems.

The vendor is Manasquan, New Jersey-based Property Pilot LLC d/b/a GovPilot.

According to the Complaint filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Ocean County by Roseland Attorney Douglas S. Schwartz Esq.:

The parties entered into a 5 year contract whereby GovPilot was to supply the Township with goods and/or services including the use of proprietary software.

The Township agreed to pay GovPilot $53,328 per year for a term of 5 years.

GovPilot fulfilled their part of the deal and delivered the goods and/or performed the services.

However, the Township never paid for the last 2 years of the service contract, which means they owe the company a base amount of $106,656.

Additionally, pursuant to the terms of the contract, the Township is also liable for interest and attorney’s fees.

GovPilot has demanded payment from the Township and payment has not been made.

The 6-count civil complaint alleges claims for; 1) breach of contract, 2) book account, 3) payment for goods delivered and/or services performed, 4) payment for reasonable value of goods delivered and/or services performed, 5) breach of promise, and 6) unjust enrichment.

The Complaint demands judgment against the Township in the amount $106,656, plus attorney’s fees, costs of suit, interest and any other amounts that the Plaintiff may be legally entitled.

Jackson Township Attorney Patrick F. Varga Esq. has just shot right back with counterclaims, saying "the story isn't as simple as it seems!"

The counterclaim filing states:

Prior to entering into the contract with GovPilot, Township officials explained to GovPilot its specific needs for the system, how its building/zoning other departments operate and their specific needs in using the software.

GovPilot assured the Township that its software was capable of boarding with the Township’s building department. These representatives assured the Township that the software could integrate information from the Township’s previously provider to streamline the conversion of services and in doing so would be able to provide a more efficient work flow within the building department. 

Assurances were also made to the Township that the software was capable of properly accounting for all transactions and tier based fees involved in the permitting process. 

Soon after the Township began receiving services from GovPilot, software within the Township’s Building Department was not properly functioning. GovPilot was incapable of accurately maintain property lists by block and lot which mirrored addresses; accurately maintain permit scheduling; accurately maintain permit fees; and ensure that its operability would not go down for several hours every week. 

Due to the malfunction of the software, the Building Department was forced to deal with various issues, including but not limited to inspection cancellations, unknown appointment times, voided permits, deleted permits, deleted continuing certificate of occupancy and calendar malfunctions. 

In addition to these issues, the software would habitually and cyclically crash, and improperly account for funds resulting in billing delays. 

The Township habitually relayed these issues to GovPilot representatives who would either make excuses that the software issues were caused by the Township’s internet speed, or advise that they were not aware of the problems.

These representations were false as GovPilot was suffering from similar issues with building departments in other municipalities. 

Due to the continuous issues with GovPilot’s software as it related to the Township’s Building Department, and the false assurances that the issues would be abated, the Township began seeking a new software program for the Building Department.

At one point, Township officials and GovPilot representatives were in negotiations concerning a “hybrid” model in which the Township would use GovPilot’s software for some departments but would utilize a different software system for other departments. 

Despite the fact that the parties were negotiating aspects of the contract and despite the fact that the software services being provided to the Township were not adequately working, the Township received a letter from GovPilot, demanding payment and threatening to suspend all service from GovPilot to the Township. The letter demanded the Township pay the full, first agreed to contract price, which represented software service to all departments within the Township, including the Building Department. 

Due to the devastating impacts and irreparable harm of a Township-wide software shutdown during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic where online access was crucial to the effective governance of the municipality, under duress, the Township had no choice but to agree to pay the full demand amount of $53,328 for the continued use of their flawed system under a hostage like situation wherein had the Township not paid GovPilot, GovPilot would have suspended the Township’s access to its software. 

The Township entered into the contract with GovPilot based off the fraudulent representations made by its representatives that the software and services GovPilot was selling to the Township would exponentially increase productivity and would be compatible with the Township’s needs.

GovPilot knew the representations on the reliability of its software and services as required by the Township were false, but fraudulently made these representations to induce the Township’s reliance to accept the contract for services with GovPiloT. 

The Township is counter-claiming for judgement declaring the contract void, tremble damages, incidental and consequential damages, punitive damages for breach of contract, duress, breach of implied covenant of God faith and fair dealing, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, consumer fraud, fraud, equitable fraud, and unjust enrichment, pre- and post-judgment interest; attorney’s fees, expenses and costs of suit; and any other relief which this Court deems equitable and just.

The matter has been assigned to Judge Robert Brenner.

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