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North Houston area PPE company facing multiple lawsuits alleging fraud

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 12/4/2020 By Paul Wedding, Staff writer

A Conroe-based personal protective equipment manufacturing company founded in the wake of the pandemic to help distribute PPE is now being sued by multiple companies, accusing the company of fraud and deceptive trade practices among other charges.

Three separate lawsuits have been filed against the company, Wildcat PPE, along with the affiliated companies Python Holdings, Bighorn Manufacturing and Wildcat Cable Solutions. Court records show two of the suits were filed in October and one was filed in November.

Wildcat has denied allegations in response to two of the lawsuits and intends to file a denial in the third case this month, according to the company’s attorney.

The first suit, filed by Cypress Creek Personnel Services, accuses the Tomball-based company Python Holdings of fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment, alleging that they provided staffing to its company Wildcat PPE, and the affiliated company Bighorn Manufacturing, and were not paid the sum due for their services — more than $290,000.

“Python personnel, for itself and its ‘portfolio’ operations, Wildcat and Bighorn, requested services under the agreement that it knew it would not pay for as agreed,” the plaintiff’s petition states.

Cypress Creek Personnel’s attorney, Patrick Waites, goes onto allege in the suit that Python knew it wouldn’t be able to pay for Cypress Creek’s services until it received payment from certain government contracts, and knew it wouldn’t receive payment in time to pay Cypress Creek under the terms of their agreement.

Waites referenced an article from August in The Courier, where Wildcat PPE General Manager Jeff Conter said Wildcat Corp., saw the need for an additional income stream.

“You’ve got a company with cashflow down that then starts up an operation where it’s having to outlay substantial cash for labor,” Waites said. “I think it’s a fair question to ask and it’s certainly one I’m asking—Do they have the cash to pay for the labor on the terms they agreed with for the staffing company, or were they looking all along just to do this on the back of these staffing companies?”

Waites said Wildcat knew Cypress Creek Personnel was paying its workers every week. He said Wildcat kept asking Cypress Creek for more workers every week and agreed they would pay Cypress Creek the weekly invoices upon receipt.

“If Wildcat asked Cypress Creek to send workers when Wildcat knew that it would not be able to pay as agreed, that would be fraud,” Waites said. “And that is what we allege in our lawsuit.”

The second lawsuit against Wildcat PPE alleging failure to pay for provided employees came from Staffing Solutions of Central Texas, who are asking for more than $2 million in damages from the company.

Staffing Solutions’ suit states they provided temporary staffing services for the company from July 21 through Sept. 7 and that Wildcat was bound to pay them for their services, accusing them of breach of contract.

“[Wildcat] has never, as of the date of the filing of this petition, made any complaint concerning the temporary employees furnished by [Staffing Solutions], or the quality of the work which said employees performed, nor has [Wildcat] disputed the amount which [Staffing Solutions] claims is due and owing,” the suit, filed Oct. 13, states. “Although frequently requested to do so, [Wildcat] has failed and refused to pay the amount due, and still fails and refuses to pay this amount.”

Court records show Wildcat’s attorney submitted responses to both suits denying the allegations.

Wildcat’s denial states Cypress Creek Personnel failed to provide employees and staff that met the level of quality described in the staffing agreement between the two and claimed crimes like drug use and theft increased by more than 800 percent at Wildcat’s facilities. They also stated Python and Bighorn did not sign a contract with Cypress Creek and were not obligated to pay them.

The denial against Staffing Solutions’ lists similar reasons, including not meeting the level of quality, and claiming the employees provided increased crime around the company’s facilities, so much so that Wildcat had to hire 24-hour security through the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Waites said the contract between Wildcat and Cypress Creek made clear that Wildcat did not want background checks or drug screenings. A copy of the contract between the two shows background checks and drug testing were waived for assembly workers that were immediately needed.

“The workers were manually assembling plastic gowns,” Waites said. “The only requirement from Wildcat was that they be able to stand for eight hours.”

Wildcat’s lawyer, Ward Goolsby, said he thought even if a contract doesn’t require a staffing company to vet their employees, they would still do something to provide employees of quality.

“People are counting on these products,” Goolsby said. “Wildcat takes pride in the products they provide. They want to make sure they are the best quality they can provide, and if the staff they’re provided doesn’t live up to the standard they need, they have to say something about it.”

One more lawsuit was filed against Wildcat Nov. 18 by the company i3Logix, who are accusing Wildcat of breach of contract, breach of warranty, deceptive trade practices, fraud and fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation.

The suit states that i3Logix had agreed to purchase 250,000 sterile hospital surgical gowns from Wildcat for a total of $837,500 that were to be delivered in two batches on May 5 and May 19, but the suit alleges that Wildcat failed to deliver the gowns on either day.

Instead, the suit states i3Logix was delivered 49,600 gowns on July 21, but i3Logix determined the gowns were not sterile and rejected the gowns. The company demanded the refund of $166,160, which they had paid Wildcat in advance for the gowns, but state they have failed to receive the refund.

“[Wildcat, the defendant] agreed to provide 49,600 sterile surgical gowns to [i3Logix, the plaintiff] in exchange for payment by plaintiff of $166,100,” the suit reads. “Although plaintiff made payment to defendants, defendants failed to provide any sterile surgical gowns to plaintiff and refuses to refund $166,100 to plaintiff.”

Wildcat has not yet issued a response to the suit from i3Logix, but Goolsby said they will be filing a denial in the case by Dec. 14, disputing the claim that the gowns weren’t sanitary.

“We provided what we promised to provide, which is sanitary gowns, so they’re kind of waffling on whether we don’t know what we provided were sanitary,” Goolsby said. “What we provided were sanitary gowns.”

Court records show no court dates have been set yet for any of the three cases.

“We understand people may want to take us to court but we are proud of the work we do and look forward to presenting the evidence we have in court,” Goolsby said.

paul.wedding@hcnonline.com

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