Oregon Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Big River Construction, Affirming Lower Court’s Judgment Against the City of Tillamook
Court affirms that the City of Tillamook Breached its Contract with Big River Construction
Originally published by Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt
Wednesday, Oct. 26, the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed a 2012 lower court ruling that found the City of Tillamook in breach of contract for not paying Astoria-based Big River Construction $1.5 million for work performed to expand the City’s wastewater treatment facility.
“This is big news for our team,” said Mike Sarin, Big River Construction president. “As a local Oregon coast contractor, this lengthy legal challenge has put a strain on our business. We held up our end of the bargain and are ready to move forward. This case has limited our ability to compete for public works projects for over five years. Knowing that we’ll be back on a level playing field is great news for Oregon’s coastal construction community.”
The suit stemmed from a 2007–2010 upgrade and expansion of the City of Tillamook’s wastewater treatment facility. The City’s incomplete and flawed design work resulted in eight additional months of construction needed to complete the project. Big River Construction was not paid for the work performed, despite the fact that the City of Tillamook and its residents have benefitted from having this facility in operation.
In 2012, a jury of Tillamook-area residents determined that the City of Tillamook breached its contract with Big River Construction and owed the firm $1.5 million for work performed. The City appealed this decision.
This week’s ruling affirmed the 2012 jury’s findings that the City breached its contract and denied the City’s counter claims — finding that Big River Construction will be owed substantial damages and ordered that a bond claim against Big River Construction be released. This bond claim, in place since 2011, has crippled Big River Construction’s public works program for over five years, negatively impacting their bottom line. The court remanded for additional findings for damages. Big River Construction hopes that it can negotiate directly with the City to resolve this matter.
“We’re pleased with the court’s findings,” said Darien Loiselle, counsel to Big River Construction and shareholder at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt. “At this point, there should be no doubt — Big River Construction held up their end of the bargain and they deserve to be paid for work performed. Both a jury of area residents and the Oregon Court of Appeals have concurred that the City of Tillamook breached this contract. We’re hopeful that the City will accept these facts. Every day delayed, the interest is continuing to accrue.”
To date, interest and attorneys fees extend the damages to over $3 million.
About Big River Construction
Big River Construction is an Astoria-based civil contracting firm focused on full-service civil commercial construction, rock quarries and supply, and public works construction. In operation since 2001, it employs between 40-50 people per year, depending on its clients’ needs. OR CCB No. 147632 WA L&I No. BIGRIE*995DW
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