Former Canton Municipal Utilities Engineer Rudy Warnock is suing the utility company for failure to pay over $6.3 million he says is owed to him following a strenuous four-month working relationship that ended in December 2016.

Warnock was named the sole engineer for CMU in mid-August and was terminated in late-December.

On March 9, Warnock filed a federal lawsuit claiming CMU owes him $2,369,477.28 for work performed and $3,960,497.59 as a result of termination clauses in two separate contracts.

In addition, Warnock seeks interest and attorneys fees. Warnock also claims to hold copyright over all work product done on behalf of CMU and claims that CMU is utilizing some information they don’t have rights to. He is seeking up to $30,000 for each unintentional copyright infringement and $150,000 for each willful infringement.

David Humphreys, an attorney with Carson Law Group representing Warnock, said the complaint was pretty straight-forward.

“CMU terminated three contracts it had with Warnock Engineering and they haven’t paid for balances due to Warnock prior to the termination of the contracts,” he said. “The lawsuit is, one, about Warnock enforcing its rights under those contracts and, two, protection of certain rights in Warnock’s work product that are protected under the copyright laws and under the contracts themselves.”

Ed Blackmon Jr., CMU’s general counsel, said since Warnock’s termination they have been trying to get a copy of plans and reports that were represented in the invoice to determine what, if anything, is owed.

“Obviously CMU wouldn’t be in a position to evaluate the merits of the invoices without having access to that information,” he said. “I feel sure that we’ll at least — through discovery — be able to have access to the requested information and determine the merits or lack thereof of the work that’s been claimed to have been done as represented in the invoices.”

Blackmon said there are questions over the validity of some of the contracts, saying none of the three CMU is said to have entered into was spread across board minutes and approved.

“Not one of those contracts met that criteria,” he said. “The law puts the burden on the contractor to make sure it’s done properly.”

CMU has since retained a Gulfport engineering firm to review the work Warnock alleges to have produced, but Blackmon said they will need access to all the documents and not just a one-page invoice.

“Reasonable efforts were being made, before we declared anything one way or another,” he said. “Whether it’s a $6.3 million invoice or a $6 invoice you want to see if there’s support for it. I think due diligence required that.”

As for the nearly $4 million in termination payments, Blackmon said there was a real issue there.

“In a case where someone is requesting money for work not done there are serious constitutional issues that have to be explored before you do that because the board can be held personally liable of payments of money not lawfully made,” he said. “The board wanted to satisfy itself as to the legal legitimacy of the invoices.”

In the four months Warnock was CMU engineer he billed the utility company over $1.14 million.

Warnock sued Madison County in 2016 for failure to pay invoices and for copyright infringement during his time as Madison County Engineer. In December, the county settled with Warnock, paying him $550,000 for access to all of his engineering plans produced over a decade as Madison County Engineer.