Hancock County

Businessman files federal lawsuit against Bay St. Louis, former councilman

Aerial view of Bay St. Louis city harbor.
Aerial view of Bay St. Louis city harbor. jmitchell@sunherald.com file

A Hancock County businessman last week filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Bay St. Louis, claiming a former city councilman used his position to damage the man’s business.

Gulfport attorney Patrick W. Kirby filed the suit in federal court on Friday on behalf of Keith Marquar and L&L Marine Construction, LLC. The defendants are former Bay Councilman Lonnie Falgout, Mayor Mike Favre — both of whom are named individually and in their official capacities as city officials — and the city of Bay St. Louis.

L&L Marine Construction and Marquar first filed a notice of claim in the case in March 2017, the first step before filing the federal complaint.

According to the suit, Wayne McCants hired Marquar and L&L Construction to build a bulkhead and pier at 144 Elaine Dr. and that then-Ward 6 Councilman Lonnie Falgout, who owns the adjacent property at 146 Elaine Dr., opposed the project and filed objections with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and Army Corps of Engineers to halt it.

“When these efforts failed, Mr. Falgout changed tactics,” according to the suit. “Initially, he invited Mr. Marquar to lunch and tried to strong-arm (him) into abandoning the project. Mr. Marquar refused to be intimidated, informing Falgout that he would continue. Lonnie Falgout became angry and threatened that he would use his position as city councilman to destroy Mr. Marquar and his business.”

The suit alleges that Falgout “intentionally’ interfered with the business relationships of Marquar and L&L by contacting clients and urging them to fire L&L and file complaints with the city’s building department.

The suit further alleges that Marquar and L&L were slandered, claiming that Falgout published “numerous emails and Facebook posts falsely stating that there are numerous complaints against Marquar and L&L filed with the city building department.”

The suit states that “no complaints have been filed.”

The suit also mentions the well-reported squabble between Marquar and Falgout, during which Marquar accused the former councilman of assault.

On Jan. 23, 2017, the suit claims, Falgout flagged Marquar down and directed him to get out of his truck, then assaulted Marquar by shouting threats and getting “nose to nose” with him.

“Mr. Marquar defended himself by pushing Mr. Falgout away from him , causing Falgout to fall down,” according to the suit. “Mr. Marquar then walked away from the incident and left the scene.”

The suit further alleges that Falgout has “repeatedly misused his public position, acting under the color of law, to cause significant and irreparable damage” to Marquar and L&L Construction Services, LLC.

Read more at SeaCoastEcho.com.