The Richmond Register

March 3, 2013

Company sues Richmond Utilities alleging breach of contract in pump repair

Richmond Utilities

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND —

A water management and construction company is suing the Richmond Utility Board claiming the entity has not paid its bill for the 2012 repair of a water pump.

Layne Heavy Civil Inc. filed the suit Feb. 25 in Madison Circuit Court. A division of the global company Layne Christensen, Layne Heavy Civil works with with government and industrial clients to oversee design and construction of water and wastewater treatment plants and pipeline installations, according to the company’s website.

Layne’s complaint states representatives of the company were present in 2008 to supervise the installation and start up of two new water pumps at the Richmond plant.

In 2009, Richmond Utilities notified Layne that the motor oil in the pump units had turned red. The utility asked Layne to change the oil, according to the court document.

Layne agreed to perform the oil change, and the complaint states Richmond Utilities ordered the motor oil that Layne use to perform the job.

However, in September 2011, Pump Unit 2 failed, and Richmond Utilities asked Layne to submit a proposal to fix the pump, which included replacement, repair, labor, equipment and material costs, the company said in its complaint.

Layne submitted a proposal Nov. 16, 2011, which was accepted, and the work was completed Jan. 5, 2012, the water management company stated.

Layne billed Richmond Utilities $70,641 for the repair work, but after “numerous requests,” no payment was received, according to the complaint.

“Richmond’s representatives gave a number of excuses for the failure to pay the original invoice and eventually claimed that Richmond was excused from paying the amount owed to Layne because Richmond believed that Layne had caused the failure of the pump by installing the incorrect oil in the motors in 2009,” the complaint stated.

Layne claims the accusation is “unfounded” in part because the type of failure the water pump experienced was not related to the motor bearings. Also, even if the wrong oil was used, that was the fault of Richmond Utilities because Layne used the oil Richmond had ordered, according to the complaint.

On April 17, Layne agreed to give Richmond Utilities credits totaling $15,274 and submitted a revised invoice of $55,366. Although an email included with the lawsuit indicates that Richmond was willing to pay the revised bill, Layne said no payment had been received.

Layne is asking for either the $70,641 amount or $55,366, plus interest and attorney fees.

No reply to the complaint has been filed by Richmond Utilities. Defendants typically have 30 days in which to file a response.

Lakeshore Engineering federal lawsuit

The Richmond Utilities Board also was sued in federal court in April by a Michigan company that performed work on the Otter Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Lakeshore Engineering claimed that it was misled by the site’s flawed geotechnical report and incurred significant extra costs in constructing 12 miles of pipeline.

Lakeshore stated that Richmond Utilities owed the company nearly half a million on its final contract balance. The two entities tried to work out the issue in mediation in March 2012, but the effort failed, leading to the civil lawsuit.

Richmond Utilities responded June 22 to Lakeshore’s complaint, denying the allegations and making a counterclaim for nearly $500,000 in “unliquidated damages” caused by Lakeshore’s failure to “substantially and finally complete its work under the Agreement in a timely manner.”

No additional court documents have been filed in the case since July 30, according to Pacer, the federal court system’s online filing system.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@

richmondregister.com

or 624-6694.