Protected Vehicles layoffs to be permanent

The letter from Protected Vehicles to its employess.

Protected Vehicles Inc. has told its employees that its closing is permanent and it is "unable to continue production operations."

Meanwhile, a rival maker of armored military vehicles has claimed in a court filing that Protected Vehicles plans to file for reorganization under the federal bankruptcy code in Delaware rather than South Carolina.

In letters sent to employees and dated Dec. 19, Protected Vehicles said it was terminating them as of that date and that "At this point in time, we anticipate that your termination will be permanent."

The letter, signed by Protected Vehicles President and Chief Executive Garth Barrett, cites "business circumstances which were unforeseen" and the company's attempts to obtain "needed capital and investment" as reasons for not providing more notice of the terminations.

Earlier this month, Protected Vehicles abruptly ceased operations. Employees and others who contacted The Post and Courier at the time said they had been told that Protected Vehicles was going to merge with an unspecified company and that its factory on the former Navy base would be "closing for a few weeks" while the company underwent a reorganization through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

In a document filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston last week, rival armored vehicle maker Force Protection Inc. claims it was told by one of Protected Vehicles' attorneys that any such bankruptcy filing will be made in Delaware.

The document filed by Ladson-based Force Protection alleges that one of its attorneys, John H. Tiller of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, was told by one of Protected Vehicles' attorneys, Robert Hood Jr. of the Hood Law Firm, that "Protected Vehicles Inc. intends to declare bankruptcy in the Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware." Protected Vehicles' original corporate registration was filed in Delaware.

No timeline for any bankruptcy filing was specified.

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Force Protection is suing Protected Vehicles claiming that Barrett, a former Force Protection executive, and other former employees stole trade secrets from the company and used them to help start Protected Vehicles. Protected Vehicles has denied the claims.

Protected Vehicles executives and attorneys did not immediately return phone calls requesting comment Monday.

Read the full story Tuesday in The Post and Courier.

Reach Peter Hull at 937-5594 or phull@postandcourier.com.