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    Sunday, March 26, 2023

    Contractor sues over unpaid work at State Pier

    A Branford-based engineering and construction company contracted to perform work at State Pier in New London has filed a lawsuit claiming it is owed more than $800,000 for extra work it performed during the demolition stage of the massive rehab project.

    Blakeslee Arpaia Chapman, Inc. filed the suit in November against Kiewitt Infrastructure Co., the project manager of the $255.5 million State Pier project being overseen by the Connecticut Port Authority.

    Both the Connecticut Port Authority and Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, the company that held the bond that assures all entities involved with the project will be paid, are named in the suit.

    Kiewit disputes the claims in legal filings related to the case, which is pending in New London Superior Court.

    Kiewitt subcontracted Blakeslee in March, 2021 to perform work demolishing clusters of concrete mooring blocks atop piles, called dolphin moorings. The work is part of a re-imagining of State Pier into a staging and assembly area for offshore wind farms.

    Kiewit agreed to pay $1.877 million to Blakeslee for the work but, the suit alleges, refused to pay Blakeslee another $838,422 it requested. The additional money includes $763,497 requested for extra work and $79,925 in retainage, a withheld portion of a final payment.

    Blakeslee argues in the suit that an underwater inspection of the work to be performed revealed that the underwater piles that were to be removed had been spliced together, “not structurally sound because of improper design, poor construction, and/or extensive corrosion.” Blakeslee notified Kiewit, the suit claims, that it should expect increase costs for the removal.

    “Thus, when Blakeslee began the work on the Connecticut State Pier, it encountered site conditions differing materially from those represented in the contract and bid documents, plans, specification, and drawings, and it was required to do unforeseen and unanticipated extra work directed by the defendant Kiewit that was necessary for the completion of the Subcontract,” the suit alleges.

    Blakeslee said it had informed Kiewit of its modified plan, which involved removing concrete and pulling up piles from the water from a crane atop a barge. The pile splices repeatedly broke when being pulled and Blakeslee was forced to use divers, the suit claims. Of the 104 foundation mooring piles, 60 had one or more failed splices that required extra work, “including diver extraction,” the suit alleges.

    “Throughout the Project, Kiewit never instructed Blakeslee not to perform the extra work and indeed instructed and directed Blakeslee to continue its work, including the extra work, while the change order was pending,” the suit claims.

    By October of 2021, Kiewit informed Blakeslee that the Port Authority had authorized up to $385,000 for the extra work, which Blakeslee refused.

    Among others allegations, Blakeslee alleges a breach of contract and breach of the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” a violation by Travelers of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, and “unjust enrichment” on the part of the Connecticut Port Authority. The suit claims the port authority benefited from the extra work without having to pay for it.

    Representatives from both Blakeslee and Kiewit declined comment, citing the pending litigation. A representative from the port authority did not return messages requesting comment.

    The lawsuit was initially filed in November of 2022 and the two sides have each traded motions in New London Superior Court. Earlier this week, Kiewit filed a motion to move the case from the New London Superior Court to the state’s complex litigation docket.

    “This matter involves a highly technical subject matter of underwater pile extraction, means and methods of extraction, as well as complex dispute resolution process with the owner, The Port Authority on a construction project in excess of $200 million,” the motion from Kiewit attorney Larry Grijalva reads.“ Kiewit anticipates that this matter will involve numerous experts, consultants, and a cumbersome discovery process.”


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