Court dismisses contractor’s suit over Charlton Town Hall
CHARLTON A mid-level state appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a local contractor against the town of Charlton and the town’s architect in connection with the construction of a new town hall.
The Charlton Town Hall on Charlton Road was completed in 2009, almost two years behind schedule and after Schmidt & Schmidt Construction Inc. of Galway was fired by the town for allegedly not doing its work in a timely manner.
The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court dismissed Schmidt & Schmidt Inc.’s legal action against architect J. Paul Vosburgh and the town of Charlton on Feb. 21 in Albany.
Vosburgh, who was hired by the town for the Town Hall project, had appealed a decision made in state Supreme Court on Jan. 12, 2012, that denied his request for a summary judgment dismissing Schmidt & Schmidt’s legal action against him and the town.
Walter Schmidt, company president, said in court papers that Vosburgh had created an “adversarial relationship” with the general contractor and didn’t provide the “necessary design to enclose the roof so that the truss supplier could fabricate and place the final trusses,” among other charges.
In the Appellate Division decision, the court said the proof offered by Schmidt & Schmidt consisted of “subjective interpretations of defendants’ conduct” and was contradicted by other evidence presented during the case regarding the construction company’s “failure to meet requirements imposed by the town.”
Charlton Town Supervisor Allan Grattidge said Friday the legal action focused on architect Vosburgh’s role in designing the new town hall even though the town was included in the case. He said the dismissal appears to clear the way for the town itself to go to court seeking more than $900,000 in performance bond money related to delays in the construction of the $4 million, 9,500-square-foot town hall.
Grattidge said the Town Board is proud of the new town hall and the work that subsequent contractors did to complete the building.
“It’s a beautiful building,” Grattidge said.
Work started on the town hall in 2006 with Schmidt & Schmidt as general contractors. Nine months later and the roof still wasn’t on the building, Grattidge said.
The entire project was supposed to be done in about a year but took much longer.
Before the town fired Schmidt & Schmidt Inc., the town retained the services of Paul Carr, a consultant and engineering professor at Cornell University, to act as a neutral observer and attempt to ascertain the cause of the construction delays and offer solutions, according to the Appellate Division decision.
Carr issued a lengthy report in 2007 saying that “a heavy burden of responsibility” for the delays rested with the general contractor and the contractor’s failure to perform according to the contract with the town.
Among the charges Carr made was that the contractor didn’t provide “an adequate workforce” and demonstrated an “inability to coordinate the delivery of critical materials,” according to the court papers.
A call to the attorney representing Schmidt & Schmidt Inc. was not returned on Friday.