Breach of contract complaint filed against PennDOT by construction company

By David Hutton | Dec 14, 2017

PITTSBURGH – A bridge construction company has filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, claiming breach of contract.

Bitco Insurance Cos., as subrogee of Frank Gavlik & Sons, Inc., is seeking a jury trial and filed the suit Nov. 1. PennDOT is seeking dismissal of the suit.

Bitco provides liability insurance to Gavlik, which was hired by PennDOT in August 2014 to install and renovate storm sewers along West Pike Street in Meadow Lands, the complaint states. Gavlik alleges it performed the work according to specifications set forth by PennDOT.

Gavlik claims in its complaint that a storm on July 6, 2015, exposed defects to the PennDOT design, which resulted in storm sewers backing up. The overflow caused damage to a business owned by Phyllis Bornscheurer, who presented a claim to Bitco for water damage.

In the wake of the storm and subsequent flooding, Gavlik officials met with representatives of PennDOT to discuss the issue.

“At this meeting, PennDOT acknowledged that it was at fault for the occurrence, but asked Gavlik to have their insurance carrier, Bitco, adjust the claim, settle with Ms. Bomscheuer, and then request and receive reimbursement from PennDOT,” according to the complaint.

The claim alleges the work was performed to the specifications set by PennDOT and any property damage was the result of the faulty design, making PennDOT liable.

In its Nov. 21 objection, PennDOT claimed the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County is an improper venue, pointing out that Meadowlands, where the work was performed, is in Washington County.

PennDOT also claims Bitco failed to exhaust other administrative and statutory remedies in interpreting the contract.

The plaintiffs also allegedly failed to file a claim with PennDOT’s District 12 contracting officer, instead sought reimbursement through the PennDOT headquarters in Harrisburg, PennDOT states.

PennDOT also objects to Bitco’s position that there was an oral agreement between PennDOT and Gavlik regarding the damages to the business and how it would be handled.

PennDOT is asking the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint.

Bitco Insurance Cos. as subrogee of Frank Gavlik & Sons Inc., is seeking $54,111,82 and any additional relief the court may deem just and proper.

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