Lawsuit Alleges District Interference in Project

MOUNDSVILLE – A subcontractor that worked on constructing the new Cameron High School has filed a civil lawsuit against the Marshall County Board of Education, alleging breach of contract and breach of warranty.

The 11-page document, filed Jan. 25 in Marshall County Circuit Court by Nello Construction of Canonsburg, Pa. and its subcontractor, Cost Co. of Pittsburgh, deals exclusively with the construction of Cameron High School. The construction of the new school was delayed several times for various reasons, finally opening more than a year behind schedule and a half-million dollars over budget.

The lawsuit outlines the relationship between Nello Construction, which served as the project’s general contractor, and Cost, which was subcontracted to perform labor and furnish materials and equipment to be used to complete concrete, masonry, brick work, insulation and sheet metal at the building.

According to contracts entered into in May 2010, Nello was to be paid $15.9 million, while Cost was set to be paid $2.37 million. Cost’s work was scheduled to be completed in 131 days, according to the complaint.

However, the lawsuit alleges “due to the conduct of Marshall (County Schools) and its agents,” the work was significantly delayed and interfered with, causing the project to take longer than expected. In recognizing the delays, school officials requested Cost “accelerate” its work by adding more masons to the project, and an additional payment of $136,689.16 was made to Cost for work through Nov. 18, 2011.

According to the lawsuit, the project acceleration and use of more masons was agreed to with the provision the district would schedule and expedite the work of other contractors on the project. The lawsuit alleges, however, that the district did not properly address scheduling, preventing Cost and its workers from performing the tasks at hand.

According to the lawsuit, by the time Cost had completed its work in September 2012, the productivity and inefficiency damages had reached in excess of $1 million. A claim submitted to the district for those damages was denied on Dec. 26.

In outlining the breach of contract claim, the lawsuit states Marshall County Schools and its agents, among other things:

  • provided incomplete and untimely project drawings and other poor quality contract documents;
  • failed to make prompt decisions, which caused delays and inefficiencies with Cost’s work;
  • failed to compensate Cost for acceleration of its project work;
  • caused delays and inefficiencies that forced Cost to unnecessarily work in adverse weather conditions and incur related inefficiencies and additional costs;
  • extended the company’s costs including additional rental costs, temporary facilities costs, supervision costs and equipment remobilization costs;
  • failed to properly design the project prior to Cost’s commencement of its work;
  • caused delays by providing faulty, misleading, inaccurate, and defective plans, drawings and specifications, and other deficient contract documents, and then failed to provide the necessary revisions in a “timely or efficient manner, or at all;”
  • failed to properly supervise and coordinate the project work by permitting the mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors to proceed and perform their work ahead of Cost’s work, causing significant delays and inefficiencies.

The lawsuit states that as a direct result of the district’s breach, “work on the project become more difficult, and at times, physically impossible to complete and was inconveniently performed, materially delayed and/or accelerated.”

Additionally, in outlining breach of warranty, the lawsuit states the project described in the bid, which Cost prepared for, was not complete or buildable in the time period required.

A jury trial is demanded, as is a judgment “in an amount in excess of the jurisdictional limit plus interest” and court costs. No official dollar figure is cited.

Attorneys acting on behalf of the Marshall County Schools filed paperwork Feb. 22, stating the district has “a bona fide” response to the claims outlined in the suit. On Friday, Marshall County Schools Superintendent Fred Renzella said the matter is being reviewed by district attorneys, and attorneys for both sides have been in contact.