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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuscaloosa Wins Breach of Contract case

The first time this New Yorker heard the about "Tuscaloosa" was in David Epstein's BarBri lecture on contracts.  Thus, I read this breach of contract story in the Tuscaloosa News with a tinge of nostalgia:

The city of Tuscaloosa has won a defamation and breach of contract lawsuit filed in March 2004 by a Mississippi construction company stemming from the Freeman Park pool project.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler also granted the city’s counterclaim for damages that was filed in response to the initial allegations made by Humphries Kelley of Kelley Contracting Inc.

The city refused to grant payment for what it considered a breach of contract after Kelley Contracting failed to complete work on a pool house building as part of the A.L. Freeman Park swimming pool project. The park opened to the public in May 2004.

Coogler, in ruling in favor of the city, did not assess any of the more than $60,000 in damages as listed in the city’s countersuit. A March 19 trial date has been set to address this issue.

“The city of Tuscaloosa is pleased with Judge Coogler’s ruling and believes it is a fair and correct decision," said Senior Associate City Attorney Tim Nunnally.

Efforts to reach Kelley and his attorney, Barbara Clark of Knoxville, Tenn., for comment were unsuccessful.

Kelley can appeal Coogler’s summary judgment ruling.

Kelley filed the suit -- seeking $3 million in damages -- following the city’s decision to cancel the contract in August 2003 and withhold $28,233.13 of a $475,620 contract that it granted to the West Point, Miss.-based company.

In his complaint, Kelley argued that the city refused to consider natural construction delays associated with suppliers and the weather. The project was supposed to last from July to December 2002.

At the request of Kelley Contracting, the city issued three change orders extending the deadline to March 2003 at no cost to the contractor.

The work still was not completed by August 2003, and a Tuscaloosa construction company was hired to complete it the next month.

Coogler’s ruling, issued Tuesday, said Kelley failed to prove the allegations of a contract breach and defamation.

[Meredith R. Miller]

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