During this morning’s conference meeting, County Commissioners got a mixed update on a lawsuit filed in August by the Mobile County Probate Court against an essential IT contractor.

After American Cadastre, LLC (AMCAD) informed the court it would no longer be providing service and software support related to judicial case management software, Judge Don Davis joined several officials around the country in suing the Delaware-based company.

Davis’ Chief of Staff, Mark Erwin, briefed the commissioners on the developments in the case after the commissioners discussed a potential agreement with Mobile-based Logical Computer Solutions, Inc. to replace some of the services AMCAD was providing.

“AMCAD is going through bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware, and a bidder is in the process of buying some of their assets,” Erwin said. “We are in contact with the company buying those assets, which includes our software systems. When those have been (purchased), we will have the freedom to move on to a new system.”

In August, Erwin told Lagniappe the ambiguity of their contractual obligations to AMCAD was a hindrance. He also said despite the sudden termination of part of its contract, the company had originally agreed to continue maintaining the storage of land records and ROAM, the online search engine used to access those records over the Internet.

The original contract came with a $1.5 million price tag but before the lawsuit, the county had only paid $329,214. Erwin said monthly payments to AMCAD are invoiced separately and nearly half of each $11,000 installment covered the cost of the case management system, which the company abruptly announced it would no longer support in June.

“We’ve agreed with successor company and they’re going to continue to support our land records access component of the contract,” Erwin said. “What’s troubling is the case management portion of the program isn’t being purchased by the alleged bidder we’ve been talking to and is still going to be unsupported, which is why we have an accelerated desire to move to a new company for case management.”

Despite the positive news of working with the unnamed bidder in bankruptcy court, Erwin said the county may never recover the $329,214 it paid into AMCAD.

“At this point, I don’t see us getting any of our money back,” he said. “There’s not going to be anything left to fight over once AMCAD is done with bankruptcy.”

It’s likely the probate court won’t be by itself if the money isn’t recovered. Similar complaints have been reported in Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona and Texas. In Alabama, Shelby, Jefferson and Madison counties are facing the same dilemma.

In August, Erwin said several of the other municipalities had paid a lot more into their contracts.

During Erwin’s brief, county Attorney Jay Ross commended the court for being very “judicious” with the money it had expended on the lawsuit. Erwin said Davis’ experience with bankruptcy proceedings from his previous practice and assistance from the Alabama State Bar helped keep the cost of litigation down.