Local News Spotlight

Lawyer William Session and his former company are ordered to pay $710,000

Updated: 2012-12-04T06:27:27Z

By DAVE HELLING

The Kansas City Star

Prominent Kansas City attorney William Session and his former company have been ordered to pay more than $710,000 as part of a long-running dispute related to construction work at the former Richards-Gebaur air base.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff ordered the Session company, TWS Construction Services, to pay $607,627 to Kissick Construction, the general contractor for the work at the base.

Circuit Judge Brent Powell ordered Session to pay $105,723 to Kissick. He also ordered Session to pay $46,020 to TWS, money that presumably could be used to satisfy part of Midkiff’s award.

The orders, which confirm judgments made by arbitrators, require Session to pay 9 percent annual interest on the awards.

He has appealed both decisions. A hearing is set in the Missouri Court of Appeals for Dec. 20.

Session, Kissick and Kissick’s attorney declined to comment on the cases.

Session’s ownership of TWS became an issue in the mayor’s race in 2010, when Session served as a lawyer for the Kansas City Port Authority.

He had formed TWS in 2006 to take advantage of environmental remediation work across the country. A year later, a company called CenterPoint Properties signed an agreement with the Port Authority to develop land at Richards-Gebaur, an agreement Session helped negotiate.

CenterPoint hired Kissick, which in turn hired TWS as an earthmoving subcontractor on the project.

The subcontract meant a company owned by the Port Authority’s lawyer would be earning an estimated $9.7 million from work on an authority-approved project.

Some staff members of the Economic Development Corporation — and some members of the authority — considered Session’s work as both the authority’s lawyer and a construction subcontractor on an authority-approved project a possible conflict of interest.

Mark Funkhouser, then running for re-election as mayor, criticized the deal and called for an investigation. The Justice Department later issued a statement saying it had conducted a preliminary investigation into the matter but determined no laws were broken.

Kissick and TWS had a falling-out, leading to the legal dispute and the judges’ awards. Session stopped performing Port Authority legal work shortly after the story broke.

To reach Dave Helling, call 816-234-4656 or send email to dhelling@kcstar.com.

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