- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A legal dispute over a $3.63 million debt between a federal contractor and an ocean freighter company has left at least 66 U.S. service members’ cars stranded in Houston since last week.

A hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in a Georgia courthouse will determine if the contractor, International Auto Logistics LLC, will be able to complete a nearly $1 billion contract with the U.S. Transportation Command, based at Scott Air Force Base, to ship active duty service members’ privately owned cars to their posts overseas.

The hearing aims to resolve a payment dispute between IAL and ocean freighter company Liberty Global Logistics LLC. The contractor owes the freighter company more than $3.63 million in unpaid invoices, according to court documents, Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

Liberty, a company based in New Hyde Park, New York, confiscated the keys to the 66 cars at a Houston seaport after the firm’s Vice President Robert G. Wellner sent an email to IAL President Doug Tipton to remind him of the unpaid invoices.

“We wish to emphasize that LGL regrets having to take this action, and we stand ready to immediately release these vehicles upon receipt of cash payment from IAL, or alternatively, security satisfactory to LGL,” Mr. Wellner wrote, Stars and Stripes reported.

Military members have continuously criticized IAL for late vehicle deliveries despite U.S. Transportation Command’s efforts to bring the contractor up to snuff with contract requirements, the military news source reported.

The latest IAL contract with TRANSCOM is already under investigation by the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General and TRANSCOM commander Gen. Paul Selva has given IAL until Feb. 1 to establish a plan for carrying out the expected summer surge in car shipments.

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