ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Dalton James says he labored in his kitchen 10 hours a day for several days preparing meals of chicken and rice for the more than 2,000 people who celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with the St. Lucie County School District last year.
The Port St. Lucie caterer had worked with the district’s Hispanic Advisory Council on an event the year before, so when a member approached him about providing food for four events in 2008, James said he agreed. He even agreed to prepare and provide the meals at a discounted price — but he never agreed to work for free or donate any food, he said. Now, six months later, the Port St. Lucie resident says he’s still waiting to be paid the nearly $10,000 he says the school district owes him for the food and services.
He alleges the ordeal has caused such upheaval in his life, he’s filed a lawsuit against the school district and its Hispanic Advisory Council. He’s also seeking nearly $30,000 in “consequential and incidental” damages he says he’s suffered in the months since.
“No matter if they pay me what they owe me now, I’m still at a loss,” the owner of One World International catering said.
James and his Port St. Lucie attorney, Christy Yonta, said they have yet to receive an explanation from the district about why he was not paid. But Yonta said the school district’s attorney contacted her this week, and both sides are trying to reach some sort of settlement.
Dan Harrell, the district’s attorney, declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.
“They did reach out and we’re going to try to make it right,” Yonta said. (more…)