WAILUKU - Radio broadcaster Bill Schindler filed a lawsuit in small claims court on Monday for $1,310 he says is owed to him by Na Koa Ikaika Maui.
Schindler broadcast 89 of 90 games for the team in its inaugural season last year - one was missed due to a scheduling conflict - and the first 11 games of this season, all for ESPN 550 AM (KMVI).
"This lawsuit is just as much about defending my reputation as it is about the money now. I can't sit by and let my character be assassinated over false allegations with no evidence to support their claims," Schindler said.
Schindler provided numerous electronic communications between himself and the team, including voicemails, text messages and emails, supporting his claims. The communications came from owners Bob Young, Leroy Pettigrew and Harris Tulchin, team vice president Bob Elder and chief operating officer David Andrus.
On April 23, more than a month before the 2011 season began, Elder told Schindler in a voicemail that Young, the managing member, had approved a contract for this season and payment of the money due from last year.
"I spoke with Bob Young, I think you and I talked about Bob being the one who holds the biggest vote (among owners)," Elder said in that voicemail. "Bob approved paying you the money you are owed. Your deal is done, we are going to pay you. Bob cleared it and it's a done deal."
On June 27, Schindler received an email from Elder that read: "Bill, I have everything worked out for your back pay and your future pay - Wanna have you back on-board and have been working on it."
In an Aug. 3 voicemail, Andrus said, "We will get you what you are due."
On Aug. 4, Andrus texted Schindler, "Have Been instructed by Bob Young to make payments for current season. Any claim to monies from previous season will be discussed at a later date. Thank you."
Tulchin, Pettigrew and Young, operating under Hawaii Baseball LLC, foreclosed on previous owner Michael Cummings and Maui Dingers LLC late last season.
Schindler has canceled checks totaling $3,150 from last season, which included $350 for seven playoff games at $50 each. He had a contract for $5,000 for the 2010 regular season, leaving what Schindler said was $2,200 owed for last season.
Schindler broadcast the first 11 games of 2011 with what he said was a handshake agreement for $60 per game, which would bring the total owed to $2,860.
After the team went off the air on June 6 in a contract dispute that ended in a lawsuit won by KMVI's parent company, Pacific Radio Group, Na Koa officials announced June 18 they had reached agreement with 104.7 FM (KONI) to carry the games beginning on July 4.
Several delays sprung up and despite public-address announcements at Maehara Stadium for several weeks that the team was going to be on KONI with Schindler behind the microphone, the team never did get back on the air, finally telling Schindler on Aug. 3 in a voicemail from Andrus that it would not broadcast any more games this season.
This season, Schindler received a $500 check May 26, a $350 check May 27 and a $200 check May 28. The latter two read "2010 repayment plan" in the memo.
Schindler said he also received $500 in cash July 12.
On Saturday, Young posted a statement on the team's Facebook page.
It read, in part, "For the record: Mr. Bill Schindler was independently contracted by Na Koa Ikaika to broadcast games for the 2011 season. When our proposed partnership with Pacific Radio Group fell through, we tried our best to retain Mr. Schindler's services as play-by-play man via an alternate outlet.
"In the interim, we paid Mr. Schindler for the 2011 games that he broadcast. In his opinion, the 2011 ownership group, Hawaii Baseball LLC, still owed outstanding monies for the 2010 season, a year in which the team was controlled by a different, and now absent ownership group.
"Hawaii Baseball LLC foreclosed upon the assets of Maui Dingers LLC, doing business as Na Koa Ikaika Maui, and thus, as a matter of law, is not responsible for the liabilities of previous ownership."
Later, Young wrote, "Our return obviously (to radio) never took place, because Mr. Schindler demanded repayment for 2010 before he would go on the air, a demand that we never agreed to."
In Schindler's contract from the 2010 season, a clause reads: "Assumption of Agreement by Company's Successors and Assignees. The Company's rights and obligations under this agreement will inure to the benefit and be binding upon the Company's successors and assignees."
Young was at Na Koa's game Monday at Maehara Stadium and said: "I have no comment on such shenanigans."
After contract talks broke down between Pacific Radio Group and the team to broadcast the remainder of this season's games, Pacific Radio Group sued for $12,259.53 and was awarded a judgment for that amount on July 11 when Na Koa officials did not show up for the hearing in 2nd Circuit Court.
Pacific Radio Group chief executive officer Chuck Bergson confirmed last week that the team had paid its debt to the station after a negotiated settlement, completing the transaction for less than the judgment amount in two installments.
After the foreclosure by Hawaii Baseball LLC, the company assumed the $5,671.80 left over from 2010 from the team's agreement with Maui County to provide $15,000 per season in improvements to Maehara Stadium. The agreement is the same for this season and county spokesman Rod Antone said Monday that so far the current ownership group has paid $7,000 of that $20,671.80.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org