DOTD sued on breach of contract claims involving Tremont Rest Area project

Catherine Melancon Nov. 14, 2012, 2:38am

Russel W. Wray

BATON ROUGE – A Rapides Parish man is suing a state entity after an alleged breach of contract.

Cecil D. Gassiott, LLC filed suit against State of Louisiana, Department of Transportation and Development in the 19th Judicial Court on Nov. 2. The plaintiff claims the DOTD breached its contract by delaying a projecgt.

Gassiott won the contract through its bid for the Tremont Rest Area Waste Treatment Project in Lincoln Parish on Sept. 28, 2011. The project included removal of the existing treatment plant and oxidation pond and construction of a new sewage treatment plant.

Gassiott states that since the pond would not be needed with the new treatment plant, the oxidation pond would be de-watered, dried out for 30 days, then backfilled with approximately 45,000 pounds of concrete from the demolished plant.

At the pre-construction conference, DOTD allegedly stated the specifications proved to be inconsistent with the regulations of the Department of Environmental Quality and the work on the demolition was postponed, the suit states.

Gassiott asserts the company could not begin demolishing the old plant until DOTD provided definite and sufficient plans in accordance with DEQ's requirements. The DOTD also had to issue a change order before work could commence.

Gassiott claims the DOTD delayed for approximately three months before providing its first proposed revised plan sheets to Gassiott on March 12.

The DOTD also requested a new price submission for the new items of work needed to deal with the oxidation pond in compliance with LDEQ's regulations. The plaintiff claims he submitted a price change three times, and all times, the prices were deemed too high and denied by the DOTD.

The plaintiff states DOTD did not inform him that the third proposal was rejected until June 21, though the contract time was exhausted on May 30, and the defendant began assessing liquidated damages in June. Gassiott asserts the defendant had no right to charge time and assess liquidated damages while also holding up his work and negotiating change order in this circumstance. DOTD allegedly refused to grant Gassiott additional time for excusable delay.

On Aug. 15, DOTD informed Gassiott that it had chosen to eliminate removal of the pond and chlorine contact chamber from the project, and the plaintiff would no longer perform that work.

The defendant is accused of charging contract time or assessing liquidated damages while also delaying the project, not providing the contractor adjustments in time and money, failing to provide definite and sufficient plans and specifications for the work and refusing to recognize the excusable delay and breach of its obligations.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for lost profits, overhead on the eliminated work and additional contract time.

The plaintiff is represented by Russel W. Wray of Wray and Pierce, LLP in St. Francisville.

The case has been assigned to Division M Judge Kay Bates.

Case no. 616686.

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