The court clerk for the Northern District of the U.S. District Court in Rockford confirmed that Midwest Flight Academy, Inc. filed suit against Thomas Cleveland in his individual capacity. Cleveland is employed by the City of DeKalb as airport manager for DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport.
The suit alleges that Cleveland violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. According to the complaint, filed as 11-cv-50128, “Cleveland intentionally treated a competitor identified as Fly America, Inc., differently than he treated Midwest Flight Academy and did so in order to favor his friend identified as Jeffrey Kohlert, CEO of Fly America, Inc.”
Kohlert is also listed as an officer on the board of DeKalb Aviation, LLC, on several documents. The DeKalb Aviation FBO Agreement was signed by Jeff Kohlert as CEO of DeKalb Aviation.
In January, 2011, DeKalb Aviation LLC filed a six-count lawsuit against the City of DeKalb and Mark Biernacki, Tom Cleveland and the late Norma Guess as individuals in the U.S. Northern District Court, Western Division. In response, the City of DeKalb filed a counter suit seeking damages arising from DeKalb Aviation’s alleged breach and default in its FBO contract with the City. Michael Bersani of Hervas, Condon & Bersani, P.C., special counsel to the City of DeKalb said DeKalb Aviation’s allegations are merit-less and the City defendants will seek dismissal of that suit.
At the January 10, 2011 city council meeting Fly America, Inc., was awarded the Specialized Aviation Service Operation (SASO) Agreement once held by DeKalb Aviation, LLC. Alderman Dave Baker (6th Ward) cast the only vote against the agreement.
When the issue was being discussed as an action item Baker asked Kohlert, who was present, if he (Kohlert) was released from all legal ramifications related to DeKalb Aviation, LLC. Kohlert responded that he was not completely released. Baker then lobbied, unsuccessfully, to delay consideration of the SASO agreement with Fly America, Inc., until any legal proceedings with DeKalb Aviation were finished.