Former AIT Labs owner faces $4.4M suit over HQ building

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AIT Laboratories Inc. was once a booming toxicology business that employed 450 workers before running into financial and legal troubles. A Texas-based company acquired the business last year, but problems created by the company haven't all disappeared.

The latest issue is a foreclosure lawsuit involving AIT's former headquarters building. Fifth Third Bank is suing the company's former owners, saying they still owe more than $4.4 million on the building at 2265 Executive Drive, in Park Fletcher business park, near the Indianapolis International Airport.

The three-story building has been vacant since January, shortly after AIT was bought last year for an undisclosed price by Ancor Capital Partners, a Dallas-area-based private equity firm. Ancor merged AIT into a Dallas-area company called HealthTrackRx.

After the sale, HealthTrackRx immediately terminated 40 AIT employees, shut down the clinical laboratory and consolidated much of the other work with its Texas operations.

Another AIT division, specializing in forensic lab work for criminal investigations, was acquired by a separate Indianapolis startup, Axis Forensic Toxicology, which hired several dozen AIT employees.

In a foreclosure suit filed Oct. 26 in Marion County Superior Court, Fifth Third Bank said it is seeking a sheriff’s sale of the former headquarters, which is now vacant.

The primary defendants are WFTOXI2 LLC and West Washington Street Development LLC, both based at 7833 Traders Cove Lane. The registered agent for both business entities is Michael A. Evans, who founded AIT in 1990 and served as its president for many years.

Neither Evans nor his attorney, Andrew McNeil of Bose, McKinney and Evans, could be reached for comment.

The 38,210-square-foot building includes about 27,000 square feet of lab and research space, according to broker Hokanson Cos. Inc., which is listing the 31-year-old building and 3.4-acre property. The broker declined to comment on the foreclosure.

Evans started the company as the American Institute of Toxicology with five employees and built it into one of the largest toxicology labs in the Midwest, with $80 million in annual revenue at its peak. It specialized in testing patients for drug abuse. But in recent years, the company slashed more than 300 jobs after deep cuts in Medicare reimbursements.

The company had been struggling with declining revenues and huge debt. Last year, Evans settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Labor that claimed he sold the company to employees in 2009 for far more than it was worth.

In 2011, Evans pledged to donate $48 million to help Marian University build a medical school, but he failed to deliver on much of that promise due to AIT's problems. 

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