(Editors note: WWTA attorney Chris Clem’s comments added at bottom of story)
Attorneys for Tower Construction have filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court against the Hamilton County Water & Wastewater Treatment Authority alleging breach of contract.
The suit states that Tower Construction entered into contracts with the WWTA to do a specific number of lateral line replacements in East Ridge, Signal Mountain and unincorporated parts of Hamilton County. The contract called for the work to be finished within a certain amount of time.
In the suit, which was filed on Feb. 26, Tower Construction attorneys contend that WWTA was negligent and caused delays in Tower Construction’s work (between Dec. 2014 and July 2015) which did not allow the construction company to finish all the jobs within the specified time. Tower Construction is asking for damages totaling more than $500,000.
According to the suit, Tower’s contract with the WWTA in East Ridge entailed about 320 work sites. It called for Tower to perform work within 219 days. The suit claims that WWTA “subsequently unilaterally modified this timing requirement by insisting that Tower had to complete this requirement within the first 140 days of Contract Time.”
According to the filing, Tower did not complete work on five (1.6 percent) of Phase I permits within the 140-day time limit imposed by WWTA. Tower did eventually complete the work under these permits, the suit asserts.
The suit states that Tower Construction had provided WWTA with written notice of its claims under all three contracts for East Ridge, Hamilton County and Signal Mountain. Tower was seeking “equitable adjustments” to the contract prices and contract times. For East Ridge, Tower was asking for an additional $256,414; Hamilton County, $80, 494; and for Signal Mountain, $205, 860. Tower asked for the additional money because “the quantity of item of unit price work performed by Tower differed materially and significantly from the estimated quantity of such item indicated in the corresponding contract.”
The lawsuit states that in a letter dated Nov. 19, 2015, WWTA attorney J. Christopher Clem denied the claim. The suit states that “denial of the Claim by WWTA’s attorney was wrongful and in contravention of the Claim procedures set forth in each of the contracts.”
The filing argues that “Tower was prevented from completing its work on all three contracts within the Contract Time due to delays beyond its control, including delays caused by acts or neglect by WWTA as well as delays caused by other contractors performing work by, for, or on behalf of WWTA.”
Scott Walters, an attorney with the Atlanta firm Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP that is representing Tower Construction, characterized the lawsuit as being straight forward and that he and his client would put “our hopes in the court system.”
WWTA attorney Chris Clem said that in the fall of 2015 WWTA began working with Tower Construction to resolve the dispute. Clem said both parties agreed to attend mediation in March 2016 to resolve the issues.
“The WWTA , after negotiating in good faith, is surprised Tower Construction has chosen to forego the agreed upon mediation and file a lawsuit,” Clem said in an e-mail. “The WWTA has not yet been served this lawsuit, but will defend it on behalf of its rate payers.”