A major supplier of concrete for the new Interstate 74 bridge has filed a lawsuit against the bridge builder, alleging failure to pay for concrete, labor and services.
Davenport-based Hahn Ready Mix filed suit June 2, claiming it is owed more than $1.4 million by Lunda Construction. The suit also alleges Lunda cut corners to save money on bridge construction, resulting in additional costs to Hahn.
Filed in Scott County District Court, the document details alleged actions by Lunda that created additional expenses for Hahn. Some of the cost-cutting measures suggest efforts to save money resulted in the use of materials that were outside of contract specifications by the Iowa Department of Transportation, DOT, which is overseeing the bridge portion of the nearly $1.2 billion span and highway project.
Officials from the DOT said all materials have been inspected and approved.
Lunda Construction, of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, was awarded a $322 million contract to build the twin spans of the new Bettendorf-Moline bridge. The company has had disputes with the DOT over the "constructibility" of the bridge design. It is more than a year behind schedule.
"Lunda is in breach of its Contracts and Hahn is entitled to judgment against Lunda for damages in the amount of $1,463,976.26, plus interest at the highest rate allowed by law, and interest continues to accrue at the highest rate allowed by law until entry of judgment, and costs, disbursements, and attorneys’ fees as permitted by the Contracts," the lawsuit states.
A Minneapolis attorney representing Hahn declined Friday to comment on the lawsuit.
It includes details about the cement supplier using "special concrete mix never before attempted." The special mix, the lawsuit states, was required, because Lunda didn't use cooling tubes for the concrete in an effort to save money.
Using the special mix, Hahn's complaint alleges, created a "laitance," which is described as a layer of "weak" material that settles on the surface of the pour. The company claimed Lunda refused to pay Hahn for their unique concrete mix, due to the expense of removing the laitance.
The absence of cooling tubes also required Hahn to use an expensive supply of liquid nitrogen, according to the suit.
Neither the lack of cooling tubes, nor the presence of the laitance introduced unsafe materials for the bridge build, Lunda's attorney said Friday.
"Any laitance that resulted from using Hahn’s mix was removed and replaced under the oversight of the Iowa Department of Transportation," Lunda attorney Joshua Swanson wrote in an email Friday. "The Iowa Department of Transportation has accepted Lunda’s work as meeting the contract requirements."
Danielle Alvarez, project manager for the Iowa DOT, confirmed Friday that the concrete work has been closely inspected.
"The concrete that has been incorporated into the project thus far has been monitored, tested, and approved by the Iowa DOT," Alvarez said. "We have established procedures in place to ensure the quality of the structure and that each element meets design requirements.
"Concrete laitance is normal in some applications. Concrete materials separate through the placement process and there are established procedures for removing this 'film' from the top of the concrete. Laitance, once removed, does not impact the durability of the concrete.
"The DOT is confident in the durability and long-term performance of the concrete incorporated into the project."
Hahn's lawsuit also alleges: "Lunda has withheld payments from Hahn for alleged back charges for delivery issues, including instances of alleged late delivery. Lunda’s back charges are improper, unwarranted, and arbitrary in that they either did not occur, or did not occur for the duration that Lunda alleges."
"In addition, the labor costs in the Lunda back charges are higher than the project labor costs charged to IDOT, and the equipment costs are higher than the cost charged to IDOT for the Project. Lunda has also withheld payments from Hahn for alleged back charges for issues relating to quality of concrete.
"At all times Hahn has delivered the concrete in accordance with the mixed design parameters dictated by Lunda. Many of the back charges are unwarranted, in that Hahn delivered the concrete in accordance with the mixed parameters dictated by Lunda."
"Despite demand for payment, Lunda has failed and refused, and continues to fail and refuse, to make full payment to Hahn for the ready mix concrete it supplied for the Project and for claims asserted by Hahn, all of which met the requirements of the Contract.
"Lunda’s refusal to make payment in full for the ready mix concrete supplied by Hahn and refusal to honor legitimate claims by Hahn is without justification and places Lunda in breach of the obligations, including its duty of good faith and fair dealing, owed to Hahn under the terms of the Contract and PO (purchase order) Contract."
Lunda's attorney declined to comment on the financial claims asserted in Hahn's lawsuit.
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