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Charlie Wilson gets $25,000 in settlement with Museum of Art

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS, (Week of February 28, 2013)
Photo of Charlie Wilson.

The lawsuit between Charlie Wilson’s company Impact Fee Consultants and the Vero Beach Museum of Art has been settled in Wilson's favor. In an e-mail sent to Vero Beach 32963 on Monday, Wilson said he had just signed a settlement agreement previously signed by museum Executive Director Lucinda H. Gedeon.

“The amount to be paid is $25,000 plus their lawyer fees, which is more than they would have paid originally,” Wilson wrote.

The dispute was over Wilson’s role in helping the museum get a $97,000 impact fee refund last March.

Wilson said he had a contract with the museum and provided essential services without which the museum would not have gotten the refund.

“They would not have received one dime if we had not fought for them,” Wilson wrote.

Gedeon admitted signing a contract and agreeing to pay Impact Fee Consultants 30 percent of any money recovered for the museum, but latter changed her mind.

Based on statements in the public record, she came to believe she had been misled by Wilson’s associate Tim Zorc about the need for Impact Fee Consultant’s services. She thought the museum would have received the refund automatically and should not have to pay a percentage to the company.

On Sept. 12, Wilson and his attorney Buck Vocelle filed suit in circuit court to collect $24,917.99 from the museum.

The complaint contained a timeline of Impact Fee Consultants’ interactions with the museum and a list of actions allegedly taken by Wilson on the museum’s behalf that resulted in the $97,000 refund.

Appended were copies of the agreements Gedeon signed.

In a response filed six weeks later on Oct. 26, the museum alleged Zorc – now a member of the county commission – had withheld relevant information from the museum and Gedeon during contract negotiations, and engaged in “intentional and fraudulent misrepresentation” regarding the impact fee refund process.

The response claimed Wilson performed no services for the museum and that the contract was unenforceable.

Responding to the response two weeks later on Nov. 15, Vocelle brushed aside the museum’s 22 pages of arguments with a brusque two-page “Reply and Motion to Strike Defendant’s Affirmative Defenses.”

Vocelle called the most of the allegations “impertinent, immaterial and irrelevant” and said others were mere statements of opinion that lacked legal significance.

At press time the settlement agreement had not been filed with the court.

Gedeon and Ralph Evans, the attorney who represented the museum in its lawsuit defense, did not return phone calls seeking comment.