Pennsylvania Record

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Breach of contract, negligence claim filed against subcontractor on Drexel Univ. project

By Jon Campisi | Jul 29, 2013

A contracting firm who was hired to construct new student housing and a retail facility on

the campus of Philadelphia’s Drexel University has filed a breach of contract claim against one of the subcontractors who was brought aboard to do work on the project.

Hunter Roberts Construction Group, which has its headquarters in New York City, filed a civil action July 26 against Connecticut-based Berlin Steel Construction Company over allegations that the defendant breached its contract with the plaintiff by causing the property owner to spend more money on the construction than it otherwise would have spent.

The basis of Hunter Roberts’ compensation under the agreement with the owner of the property, identified in the suit as Texas-based ACC OP LLC, is a guaranteed maximum price that caps the amount paid to the plaintiff and also provides that all savings under the guaranteed maximum price would be evenly split between Hunter Roberts and ACC OP, according to the complaint.

Berlin Steel, however, ended up causing the plaintiff and the property owner to spend more for the construction project, with the initial price of the subcontract being $9.7 million, and the ending price coming in at $10,842,002.02, the suit states.

The complaint asserts that the defendant didn’t adhere to the subcontract and violated industry practice in a number of ways, including causing major property damage on two different occasions.

Both times, workers for the defendant dropped steel columns that the subcontractor was erecting on the campus building from elevated floors to the ground below.

In the first incident, which occurred last August, the falling steel column landed on a trailer at the ground level, while during the second incident, last November, a steel column fell 13 stories to the street below, causing the sidewalk to have to be repaired.

Both of the incidents caused a work shutdown due to an ensuing investigation on safety procedures; no pedestrians were injured in either of the incidents.

The incidents, however, caused Hunter Roberts to experience financial hardship through the expenditure of unanticipated additional costs, the complaint states.

Those additional costs, tallied in the complaint, came to more than $220,000.

Berlin Steel also inappropriately sent the property owner a notice of intent to lien, which further damaged the plaintiff, the suit states.

The suit contains counts of both breach of contract and negligence.

Hunter Roberts seeks judgment against Berlin Steel for all damages suffered by the plaintiff, as well as interest, attorney’s fees and other legal relief.

The plaintiff is being represented by attorney Joseph A. Battipaglia, of the Philadelphia firm Duane Morris LLP.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04347-BMS. 

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