Company files suit against district over masonry work at Strough

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A Yonkers company has filed a complaint in court against the Rome City School District, seeking $421,525 for masonry reconstruction work that the company said it performed at Strough Middle School’s 801 Laurel St. site.

The amount represents the balance owed to Cornerstone Restoration Corp. of Yonkers on an overall $454,850 contract sum after a $33,325 payment, according to documents filed in state Supreme Court in Oneida County.

The school district is disputing and denying the complaint, in its filed answer which requests that the court dismiss the complaint. The case is pending, Board of Education President Paul Fitzpatrick said last week, and he had no further comment.

The Cornerstone company had no comment. Attorney Stuart Finer of Utica, representing Cornerstone, did not return a phone message seeking comment. The school district is represented by the Ferrara Fiorenza PC law firm of East Syracuse.

Cornerstone and the school district had entered an agreement dated June 11, 2018, and “the contract was to provide masonry reconstruction including masonry repointing and brick replacement” at Strough, according to the Cornerstone summons and complaint that was dated Nov. 9.

It also said Cornerstone “provided the necessary submittals and provided materials in accordance with the contract documents,” and “at no time did any representative of the owner criticize or provide a punch list of corrective items that were required to be completed by the contractor.”

The original contract sum was $158,000, but rose to $454,850 due to change orders totaling $296,850, court documents said; change orders in general can result after contractors determine additional unforeseen work is needed after starting a project.

The work was completed Sept. 10, the complaint noted, and “after several demands for payment and the defendant has failed and refused to make payment in the sum of $421,525 is now due and owing.” The school district “failed to pay the contractor for work, labor and materials that were provided in accordance with the contract documents,” according to the complaint, and “all of the conditions required by the owner were completed and satisfactorily performed by the contractor.”

Also, “submittals were made to the owner for all the work, labor and materials provided and work was performed as directed by the owner’s representative March Associates,” said the complaint.

March Associates of Utica had been the school district’s architect of record through June 30, 2018, and the new architect of record as of July 1 is the Rochester-based LaBella Associates firm. In addition to the payment balance, Cornerstone is seeking “costs, interest and reasonable attorneys fees,” said the document, which did not specify those amounts.

In its answer dated Dec. 4, the school district acknowledged entering into a contract with Cornerstone to “perform certain work” but denied that a “full and complete copy” of the contract was attached to the complaint.

It also denied the complaint’s series of statements regarding the procedures, payment requisitions, and completion of conditions required.

The school district additionally denied a statement in the complaint which said “the owner and its representative consented to all the work performed” by the contractor. The district further denied statements which included references to it owing $421,525 to Cornerstone.

“The claims are barred as the plaintiff (Cornerstone) failed to fulfill a contractual condition precedent to commencement of the action,” said the school district’s answer.

It also said “the injuries and damages mentioned” in Cornerstone’s complaint “were caused in whole or in part by the contributory negligence, lack of ordinary care, assumption of risk or culpable conduct” of Cornerstone or others for whose acts the school district is not responsible.

Cornerstone in turn filed a Demand for Bill of Particulars document, seeking more details on the school district’s various points that were raised in its answer to the complaint.

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