Engineering Firm Countersues Ohio City

Aug. 27, 2004

DLZ Inc., an engineering company that had worked on various water and wastewater improvements within Steubenville, Ohio, has filed a lawsuit against the city, two months after the city filed suit against DLZ.

Steubenville filed a suit against DLZ in the middle of July, claiming the company did not perform in a manner consistent with deadlines the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had issued the city. Because of the claims against DLZ by the city, both parties agreed to terminate the contract, with the work only partially done.

Steubenville's law director S. Gary Repella said the city has requested copies of all supporting materials related to the projects done by DLZ, but the company has not turned them over to the city.

City officials say they need the materials to determine what work still needs completed. Diane French, DLZ Inc. vice president and general counsel, said the city is correct and the company is withholding those materials.

"We have the majority of the plans," said French. "The agreement was that we would give the plans to the city at the same time they made their payment. The city is the one who has not lived up to their end of their contract."

DLZ's answer to the city's suit states, "DLZ completed nearly all of its work for the city by the time the agreement ended and it sent invoices to the city, but they have refused to pay, without valid justification."

DLZ's lawsuit states that between January and June 2003 DLZ sent the city invoices totaling $81,702 for the Raw Water Agreement, but the city only paid $10,566.

DLZ said it performed professional engineering services for a water supply and sanitary sewer systems study and Ohio EPA requirements compliance beginning in 1998 and completed in 2001 totaling $25,241. DLZ is also asking for 10 percent interest since time of completion and 4 percent interest for 2004.

In June 2003, DLZ states, they completed work on Sunset Boulevard to widen, resurface and add drainage totaling $3,422. The company is again seeking 10 percent interest from the time of completion and 4 percent interest for 2004.

In March 2001, the company claims it completed 90 percent of the professional engineering services for the water and wastewater capital improvement program, including geotechnical investigations and surveying services, design services, bidding phase services and construction for the water treatment plant, the water storage tanks, an access road, repair for facilities, work on the water distribution and wastewater collection facilities and storm sewer work.

For this work, DLZ claims it is owed $791,764, plus accrued interest of 1.5 percent for all invoices not paid after 60 days.

DLZ's lawsuit also stated the city has taken loans out from the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Water Development Authority to help pay for the improvements.

The lawsuit claims the city sent the OWDA documentation authorizing payment for DLZ in the amount of $298,530. DLZ said the OWDA paid the money to the city, but the city did not forward that money to DLZ. The company said the city has not sent in the rest of invoices to OWDA so payment can be sent to DLZ.

DLZ said the city owes it $891,563 as of Aug. 11 and interest of $46,730 for total of $938,293.

Source: The Herald-Star