Medina County officials are considering legal action against a Virginia-based software company they say breached a contract to provide the county with a new online docket for the county’s clerk of courts.
“It was very unexpected, and of course we’re not the only one affected by it,” county Clerk of Courts David Wadsworth said, adding clerks across the country had their contracts terminated. “We had begun the process, so it was a significant investment of time and some money that we need back.”
Wadsworth said he entered into a $242,286 contract in May with American Cadastre — also known as AMCAD — to modernize the office to make it “virtually paperless.” It would have updated the online docket, reachable at www.co.medina.oh.us/clerk, which provides visitors with information on the county’s criminal and civil court cases.
Wadsworth said AMCAD had been paid about $80,000 when the contract was terminated. He said the contract was funded using auto title fees instead of the county’s general fund.
Wadsworth has said the county last received an update for its case management system in 1991. He said he researched companies for two years and added the Ohio Supreme Court’s contract with AMCAD influenced his decision. In addition, Chief Deputy Clerk Albert Shirer was a project manager with AMCAD prior to assuming the county position last year.
Last week, Wadsworth said AMCAD CEO Richard Lowrey notified him via email that the company had lost a major client with the state of Oklahoma and was forced to shut down its courthouse software branch. As a result, Wadsworth said the company was backing out of its contract with Medina County.
“We are exploring options on how to best proceed and communicating with the other courts in Ohio affected by this shocker,” Wadsworth said. “Everyone should understand our office was at a preliminary point in the project schedule when this news hit.”
He said the county’s data was never at risk because it was so early in the process.
AMCAD representatives did not return calls for comment.
Wadsworth said Monday he still intends to pursue an upgrade to the county’s case management software.
“Basically, we’re either going to go with our existing provider (CSDC Enterprise Solutions) and upgrade the system, or go out and begin searching again,” Wadsworth said. “We have options, and we’re looking to explore them.”
Last week, the San Antonio News-Express reported the Bexar County Clerk of Courts Office in Texas experienced a similar contract cancelation.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court terminated a $13 million contract with AMCAD, which the News-Express reported made the company unable to keep its courthouse software branch open.
The Oklahoma system would have provided online access to court documents for all of its 77 counties.