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Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled Thursday that officials with Continental Express trucking firm and a sister company are not liable for the companies' unpaid payroll taxes.

Piazza ruled from the bench in favor of a motion for summary judgment that was raised by defendants in the case, including Ed and Bonnie Harvey, who owned Continental and Arkansas Trucking Co., and Marvin Jones, a consultant for Bonnie Harvey.

U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. ruled last year that Ralph Bradbury, former president of the now-defunct Continental Express, was a "responsible" person in operations of the two trucking companies and therefore liable for the unpaid payroll taxes. The debt for the taxes, unpaid for a three-month period in 2008, has grown to more than $820,000, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

In a motion for summary judgment, Skip Henry, an attorney for the Harveys, said Bradbury cannot prevail in his lawsuit against the Harveys and Jones because Marshall previously ruled that Bradbury was liable for paying the taxes.

During the period when the payroll taxes were not made to the government, Bradbury "managed day-to-day operations and had the authority to sign checks from all three Continental bank accounts and to authorize his staff to make payments from the accounts," Marshall found last year.

Nevertheless, Bradbury said he reminded Jones on a daily basis that the delinquent taxes had to be paid by Nov. 5, 2008.

Marshall noted in his order that "difficult circumstances ... usually do not change a responsible person's status."

"In this case, [Bradbury's] responsibility was to see that taxes were paid," Marshall said in his decision.

The facts in Bradbury's lawsuit are the same as the facts in the federal tax case, Henry said. And Marshall already ruled on those facts in the federal case last year, Henry said.

"The IRS has said that the Harveys and Jones have no liability," Henry told Piazza. "This is a classic case for summary judgment."

The law bans relitigating the same issues that have been ruled on, Henry said.

"[Bradbury] had his day in court," Henry said.

Randy Coleman, Bradbury's attorney, argued that despite Marshall's ruling, Bradbury has a claim in the case. Marshall didn't rule on any issues between the IRS and the Harveys and Jones, Coleman argued.

In an interview after the hearing, Bradbury said he plans to appeal Piazza's decision.

Business on 09/25/2015

Print Headline: Ex-owners of trucking firm found not liable in taxes suit

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