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|Police Jury lawsuit against Blain nearing 'discovery'|
Concordia Parish Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said this week that its lawsuit against a Natchez contractor over the Phase 1 hardsurfacing program will soon move into the discovery phase of litigation.
The Police Jury filed suit June 10 against W.E. Blain & Sons and the parish's engineer over the road improvement program in which 25.2 miles of parish roads were hardsurfaced. The Jury claims that the roads were not built to specifications and have deteriorated in some locations.
In addition to Blain, Bryant Hammett & Associates, LLC of Ferriday was also named as a defendant in the suit.
The lawsuit was filed in Seventh Judicial District Court on behalf of the Jury by the Monroe law firm of Davenport, Files & Kelly L.L.P.
Blain filed a countersuit against the Jury and the engineering firm in July.
The Jury's lead lawyer in the case, Mike C. Sanders, informed the Jury Tuesday via fax: "We will shortly be exchanging available dates with other attorneys to schedule depositions. Meanwhile, there will undoubtedly be written discovery to and from all parties resulting in an exchange of documentary evidence and identifying exhibits."
The Jury entered into a contract with Blain on May 1, 2006, for the Phase 1 hardsurfacing program. Blain was the low bidder for the work, which began June 12, 2006, and ended Aug. 2, 2007, when the Jury and Blain reached an impasse in a dispute over whether the work was up to specifications.
The contract price totaled $4,196,363.25 including change orders. The Jury had paid Blain $3,343,304.48 at the time the suit was filed.
According to the suit, Blain was to provide a 12-inch "base course of soil cement and two-inch wearing course of asphaltic cement."
The Jury claims Blain used "improper methods" in preparing the base course for the roads including "improper thickness and slope of soil cement and lime base, failure to use machinery to properly calibrate the work and applying "too little water and applying water at incorrect times..."
Other allegations are that Blain used "substandard surfacing methods and practices," including use of defective equipment, application of an uneven and inadequate thickness of asphalt and failure to provide "for an adequate crown to allow water to drain from the roadway."
The suit notes that a different contractor performed Phase 2 work under essentially the same contract provisions in a similar soil as in Phase 1 and was "completely acceptable."
The Phase 1 damages were also caused, says the suit, by "the fault or negligence of the engineer for failure to inspect the work of Blain, failure to adequately supervise the job and work performed by Blain, failure to adequately and timely report necessary corrective measures, and/or providing deficient plans and specifications."
The Jury is seeking damages for reconstruction of the project, loss of roadway value, reimbursement for attorney fees, testing costs required due to contract violations, liquidated damages of $500 per calendar day, reimbursements for all other costs and the fees of any experts retained by the Jury for the case and the cost of the proceedings.
The Jury is also seeking a judgment against Blain declaring that "no further sums are owed" the contractor.
Blain countered in its suit that it is entitled "to recover damages from Concordia Parish for its breach of contract in the amount of $578,898.43 for the base contract which remains due and owing and in the amount of $430,365.63 for additional work authorized and directed by Concordia Parish and its Engineer."
Blain is seeking to recover pre-judgment interest on the principal amounts due and owing and seeks the dismissal of the Jury's suit "at its costs" and "on the reconventional demand awarding damages...plus interest and costs."
Blain denies most of the allegations cited in the Jury suit, including one that its work was "defective, deficient or otherwise not in compliance with the contractor requirements."
Blain also says it will "affirmatively show that any damages incurred by Concordia Parish...were caused by the acts or omissions of the engineer and not Blain."
The contractor also claims that "Engineer Hammett was responsible for properly calculating and determining work days on the project," and denies that the engineering firm "properly performed this task and would affirmatively show that the engineer Hammett did not properly calculate and determine work days on the project."
Blain is represented by firm of Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn, L.L.P. of New Orleans and Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes of Jackson, Miss.
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