It was a split decision for Faribault County following a jury trial to settle
a lawsuit involving a $2.866 million county ditch improvement project.
Following seven days of testimony from some 20 witnesses, the jury found
county officials breached their contract with Northern Lines Contracting (NLC), Inc.
In their decision, jurors ruled the county must pay the Bloomington. Minn.-based construction company $397,987 in damages and that it was obligated to pay that amount back in January 2019.
On Dec. 28, 2018, NLC sent a letter to the county saying the company had
met the contract’s Dec. 31 deadline of “substantial completion.”
However, county officials through its engineer, ISG Professional, LLC., refused to grant a certificate of “substantial completion” on Jan. 28, 2019.
Through a letter and an e-mail on March 20, county officials again refused to
issue a certificate.
ISG ultimately signed off on the project as being “substantially” completed on April 29 with an effective date being Dec. 23, 2018.
County officials filed a countersuit against NLC alleging breach of contract and negligence. They also made a claim on the performance bond issued by Granite Re for the project.
As a result, the county withheld payment of $287,284 for contractor damages outlined in a “flooding damages summary” conducted by ISG.
In their suit, NLC says the county did not incur any financial loss due to claims that the company caused crop damages to 11 farmers affected by the project.
NLC claims the county tried to apply for federal disaster relief aid when the company could not be held liable for any damages caused by storms that occurred in June and July of 2018.
“The county’s simultaneous applications for federal disaster relief funds and not paying NLC because of flooding amounts to fraud,” NLC contends.
The jury found NLC breached its contract with the county and awarded damages totaling $338,004, however, it did not grant compensation to any farmers.
The jury’s verdicts will result in a net judgment being entered on behalf of NLC.