Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Former business operator files slander suit against retired Hernando airport manager

BROOKSVILLE — Robert Rey, the former manager at the Brooksville Air Center and a frequent critic of airport operations, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Don Silvernell, the retired manager of Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, slandered him.

Rey and his airplane management business, Jet Concepts Inc., claim that in December 2012, Silvernell told Hernando resident Paul Douglas that Rey was "a crook, that he doesn't pay his bills and that he is financially incompetent,'' according to the lawsuit. Douglas at the time was considering leasing the defunct air center property.

In addition, Rey alleges that Silvernell interfered with a business relationship by telling representatives of the Jet ICU air ambulance company that "they should stop doing business with Rey and Jet Concepts because Rey and Jet Concepts were not authorized to operate at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport,'' according to the complaint.

In addition, Silvernell told others that their businesses would not be supported by the management and staff of the airport if they conducted business with Rey or his company, the suit alleges.

Because of Silvernell's interference, Rey alleges that Jet ICU, where he currently houses his clients' aircraft, has been reluctant to participate in joint projects, and other businesses and individuals have been reluctant to maintain business relationships with him.

Rey states that his business has been damaged by Silvernell, and he is seeking monetary damages, interest, costs and other relief from the court.

Silvernell, who moved to Idaho after his retirement in July, said on Wednesday that he was not aware that a lawsuit had been filed against him and could not comment.

Rey ran the Brooksville Air Center as a fixed-base operator until financial issues drove the business into foreclosure last year. The county had leased the land to Brooksville Air Center; in April, when the buildings and fuel farm on the site came up for sale, the county bought the property.

The county recently leased the site to Corporate Jet Solutions, which plans to open its multifaceted aviation business later this month and have a formal opening Sept. 28.