Multi-Craft Contractors takes IT provider to court

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,150 views 

A Springdale business has filed a lawsuit against its longtime information technology (IT) services provider for what it claims is an ongoing refusal to cooperate with its transition to a new IT services provider.

Multi-Craft Contractors, an industrial and commercial contractor with approximately 750 employees, filed the suit Tuesday (Oct. 25) in Washington County Circuit Court against GCM Computers Inc. of Fayetteville, seeking damages for alleged breach of contract and negligence, and for the court to order GCM to release its data.

The lawsuit says Multi-Craft, which formed in 1972 and is owned by Hex Bisbee (president) and Scott Barrows (COO), outsourced its IT services to GCM for the past two decades but informed the company this past July that it was moving to a new provider, Arkansas firm Edafio Technology Partners. Though the business relationship was “successful,” Multi-Craft said it was concerned GCM could continue to “reliably support” the company due to recent growth.

“To Multi-Craft’s frustration, this change has been far from seamless,” the filing said. “At every twist and every turn, GCM has gone out of its way to make the migration to Edafio as difficult as possible.”

In August, Multi-Craft alleges GCM said it would not release the data because the company owed unpaid licensing fees.

Multi-Craft attorneys sent a letter to GCM on Aug 12 demanding that GCM cooperate and for documentation of the outstanding unpaid licensing fees.

GCM owner Barton Hodges responded via email the same day.

“There has not been an ongoing refusal to cooperate, and we have not demonstrated unprofessional behavior,” he wrote. “That is simply an incorrect matter of their opinion. We value our long-term relationship with Multi-Craft and will continue to assist with their transition to their IT provider.

“We are not claiming that Multi-Craft owes outstanding amounts for ‘certain unidentified licensing fees.’ We are requesting payment for services and products already rendered. The same services that we have provided, and they have paid for years in the past.”

Multi-Craft said GCM began cooperating “to varying degrees” in the weeks following the demand letter. The companies eventually agreed that the data migration from GCM’s servers to Edafio would begin on Oct. 21.

According to the filing, GCM sent Multi-Craft a data release form on Oct. 20 that said it wouldn’t release the data unless Multi-Craft signed it, which would hold GCM harmless for any issues related to the data release.

“Among other things, the form contains an indemnification and hold harmless provision that purports to bar Multi-Craft from having the ability to file suit or otherwise bring a claim against GCM,” the filing said. “GCM has no right, legal or otherwise, to condition the release of information on Multi-Craft signing this document, particularly when it presented said document to Multi-Craft mere hours before the agreed-upon migration was to begin.

“Because Multi-Craft does not intend to sign the form, GCM is refusing to release Multi-Craft’s data.”

Rogers attorney Ryan Smith with Rose Law Firm is representing Multi-Craft. He was not immediately available for comment.

For a PDF of the 12-page complaint, click here.