WRAL reported yesterday that an agricultural company is suing House Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), his farming company and its partners for more than $1.5 million.
The lawsuit, filed in Harnett County, states the company has unsuccessfully tried to collect a debt. It names Lewis, his brother-in-law Jeffery Strickland and their companies, according to the TV station. Both men said in the report they didn’t know about the lawsuit until a reporter asked them about it.
Word had traveled fast: The complaint was filed early Thursday afternoon. By late Friday morning two separate sources had forwarded the the paperwork to WRAL News, and a third had texted to ask about it.
Lewis called the lawsuit unnecessary and said he’s been making payments to Nutrien Ag Solutions, where his Cumberland County farm has an open account for seed, fertilizer and other chemicals. Lewis said he paid $40,000 toward the debt last week and that he’s a personal guarantor in his business’ financial arrangement.
“I’m very surprised they’ve taken this step,” he said.
“While there is disagreement as to the amount an entity that I co-own owes, that would have been worked out in the normal course of business and will be worked out and paid,” Lewis, a key leader in N.C. House’s Republican majority, said.
Nutrien said in its complaint that Lewis, Strickland and their companies owed just over $1 million as of October 31, plus penalties and interest that took the balance up to $1.37 million. Nutrien also wants to add in 15 percent in attorneys fees, as allowed by North Carolina law, putting the total around $1.57 million.
Read WRAL’s full report here, which goes into more detail about the lawsuit and Lewis’ response.