CASTAIC — A Los Angeles County claims board on Tuesday recommended paying $4 million to settle a longstanding lawsuit brought by the construction company that built the Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho's newest facility.
The Board of Supervisors will consider the recommendation on May 10. Board approval of the $4-million award will mark the end of a 6-year-old lawsuit brought by J.A. Jones Inc., the firm awarded the $99-million contract to build the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic, said Nancy Singer, chairwoman of the three-member claims board.
The total settlement is about $6 million because the design firm contracted by the county has agreed to accept a portion of the financial responsibility, Singer said.
The construction company had agreed to complete the work in about 23 months, but contended that changes in the design and design errors caused delays that added 15 months to the project.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based construction firm had originally asked for $22.3 million to cover the costs it incurred because of increased work responsibilities and man hours.
County attorneys acknowledged that plans for the jail facility were not perfect, but said they did not cause the construction delay. They said the $22.3 million sought by the firm was excessive.
Singer said the $3-million settlement recommendation was made after the claims board, which includes representatives from the offices of the auditor controller, chief administrative officer and county counsel, reviewed the costs and unpredictable outcome of a court trial.
All parties except the Board of Supervisors have agreed to the settlement, Singer said.
Because of the complexity of discovery in construction case lawsuits, the county incurred $3 million in legal expenses preparing for trial and estimated it would cost an additional $1 million to take the case to court, Singer said.