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Suit Filed in Delayed Hospital Project

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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One of the largest construction management companies in the United States has been sued and kicked off of a $300 million delayed hospital project in Santa Clara County, CA.

County officials announced the termination and lawsuit against Turner Construction Company, of New York City, Thursday (Sept. 17).

At issue is an uncompleted Hospital Bed Building as well as underground utility infrastructure at the Valley Medical Center campus.

The project was approved by voters in 2008; construction began in 2009 and was initially supposed to be completed in 2012.

The public row between the county and the general contractor began in late August when the county notified Turner that it was “in default” on its contract, alleging that the builder was responsible for significant project delays.

“Turner has not increased the number of workers on the project despite the availability of enough work to more than double the crew sizes,” Ken Rado, the county’s Fleet and Facilities Department chief, wrote in a letter to Turner.

Safety Concern, Costs

On Sept. 1, the county released footage (below) of a steam explosion on the hospital project, highlighting safety concerns.

“The video of this catastrophic failure shows a clear breakdown in design safety and safety protocols on the jobsite by Turner Construction,” said Jeff Draper, director of Fleet and Facilities Department for the County of Santa Clara. “It was only through the grace of God that the worker survived this accident.”

Ten days later, the county reportedly locked out the contractors from working on the medical center projects.

County officials say the delayed project is costing the county more than $100,000 a day in lost revenue and about $36 million a year, according to a local NBC News affiliate.

The news bureau reported that though the building was scheduled to open Sept. 19, it was still years away from completion.

Sluggish Decision-Making

Turner Construction maintains that the county officials are responsible for the delays, citing “design deficiencies, incomplete drawings and the sluggishness of their decision-making process,” according to an emailed statement.

“Six years after construction began, the County and its design professionals still had not resolved problems in their drawings and specifications, or made necessary Owner selections to allow the contractor to complete the work,” the company’s statement reads.

© / hynci

Turner says it is confident that when the "true facts are brought to light, it will be vindicated and the County will be obligated to pay Turner tens of millions of dollars more for the County's breaches over the course of the job."

For example, the contractor alleges that “the decision-making process with regard to tiles and the hanging of paper towel holders and soap dispensers in patient bathrooms caused two years of delays in virtually every patient room.”

Michael Kuntz, executive vice president of Turner said, “Our efforts and dedication to the completion of this project have not wavered since our first day on this project.”  

The county’s lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract and negligence against Turner and more than 125 subcontractors, ensures “that the project will drag on interminable and at extraordinary additional expense,” according to Turner.

Turner says it is confident that when the "true facts are brought to light, it will be vindicated and the County will be obligated to pay Turner tens of millions of dollars more for the County's breaches over the course of the job."

The county says it will seek a new, qualified construction company to complete the project and deliver improvements to the Burn Unit, Maternity Ward and Physical Rehabilitation Center on the campus.


Tagged categories: Construction; General contractors; Government; Government contracts; Health and safety; Health Care/Hospitals; Maintenance + Renovation; North America

Comment from peter gibson, (9/22/2015, 10:30 AM)

A ridiculous situation in this modern day and age in construction. Zero leadership on this project.

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