MARCO ISLAND — Cardinal Contractors Inc. is suing the city of Marco Island, alleging it owes more than $1 million for a 180-day, $3.8 million job that took 600 additional days. The lawsuit, filed last month in Collier Circuit Court, contends the city hindered, obstructed and delayed Cardinal’s work by not forcing Beach Construction Co., a Gainesville contractor hired to renovate Marco Island’s North Water Treatment Plant, to complete construction on time and concealed its knowledge that the delays meant Cardinal wouldn’t finish on time.
The mishaps and delays prompted Cardinal to request another $540,432 from the city. Officials rejected the claim, but gave Cardinal more time under its contract.
“The city knew when it solicited Cardinal’s bid for the project that the Pall (membrane filtration) equipment would be delivered late and cause delays and damages to Cardinal,” the lawsuit says, alleging that the city also knew when it awarded the contract and when telling Cardinal it could proceed.
City Manager James Riviere, who was among those involved in meetings with Cardinal over the delays and costs, referred questions to City Attorney Burt Saunders.
Saunders declined to comment on pending litigation.
David Gurley, a Sarasota lawyer representing Cardinal, and officials with Beach Contractors, which isn’t a defendant, could not be reached.
The lawsuit involves several contracts bid in 2010 for the city’s 32-year-old sand filter system, which needed a multimillion dollar rehabilitation.
Marco officials opted to build a membrane filtration system to purify its potable water supply. The city awarded the $1.47 million building and pipe installation contract to Beach, and the membrane installation contract to Cardinal.
The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of good faith and fair dealing and failure to pay for work.
Justin Martin, the city’s senior projects manager, has said Beach took responsibility for not pressure testing pipes and agreed to pay for costs of replacing the burst pipes. At the city’s request, Beach fired its superintendent and promised to fix its mistakes.
But the lawsuit says Martin refused to compensate Cardinal for the delays, citing the contract’s “no damages for delays” clause, which Cardinal warned wouldn’t hold up in court.
Florida appellate courts have ruled such exclusions cannot be read literally.
“An owner has an implied obligation not to hinder or obstruct performance by the other person, an implied obligation not to knowingly delay unreasonably the performance of duties under the contract and an implied obligation to furnish information which would not mislead prospective bidders,” the Second District of Appeal ruled in 2000 in a lawsuit against Charlotte County. “Contractors have previously been allowed to sue governmental bodies for delay damages ‘caused by the knowing delay of the public authority, which transcends mere lethargy or bureaucratic bungling.’”