Electric companies trade charges over Veterans Affairs project

By Charmaine Little | May 27, 2018

An electric company partnership gone wrong ended with both businesses suing each other in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, according to a May 17 opinion.

NEW ORLEANS – An electric company partnership gone wrong ended with both businesses suing each other in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, according to a May 17 opinion.

Plaintiffs Hi-Tech Electric, Inc. of Delaware (HTE) filed a lawsuit with breach of contract claims against T&B Construction and Electrical Services, Inc. (T&B). HTE requested a summary judgment on its claim, as well as a summary judgment on T&B’s counterclaims. T&B filed a motion for the court to dismiss HTE’s claims, as well as HTE’s motion to exclude T&B’s expert testimony, and HTE’s motion to amend its complaint.

The court responded and granted HTE’s motions for summary judgment. It granted in part and denied in part T&B’s request to dismiss the claim against it. It also granted HTE’s motion to exclude expert testimony and denied HTE's motion to amend.

While their partnership began with efforts to work together on a Department of Veteran Affairs project in New Orleans, things went south after HTE claimed T&B violated the terms of the agreement. T&B refused to make further payments following the dissolution of their partnership while it was noted HTE met its requirements via a memorandum of understanding. The court decided T&B did indeed breach the contract.

As for the amount, HTE has requested $656,000 “for outstanding costs it paid,” according to the opinion. While the court decided HTE should not get reimbursed for $20,000 in unearned advances, it did agree with the remaining amount and expenses. The court determined HTE should receive summary judgment on the breach of contract claim.

As for T&B’s motion to dismiss HTE's other claims, the court denied HTE’s motion to amend its complaint, and resolved the rest of HTE's claims via federal rules of civil procedure.

The court denied T&B’s motion to dismiss HTE's breach of contract rules related to the MOU but did rule that HTE's complaint did not have enough evidence to prove T&B acted in bad faith, so it dismissed HTE's bad faith claim.

When it comes to HTE's prompt payment claim, the court dismissed without prejudice as T&B hasn’t yet been given its final payment from subcontractor Clark/McCarthy.

HTE's complaint for nonpecuniary damages for breach of the teaming agreement was also dismissed.

It also granted plaintiff’s summary judgment on the counterclaim in which the defendant accused the plaintiff of misrepresentation in change orders. The court stated T&B did not detail how the alleged misrepresentations were in violation of the MOU or how it negatively impacted T&B. HTE's motion for summary judgment regarding T&B’s counterclaim of the experts’ opinion was granted as the court stated the opinion “does not raise a genuine dispute” that determines if the plaintiff is responsible for damages during the project.

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