Wayne County files lawsuit against jail site contractor

Wayne County files lawsuit against jail site contractor

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On the same day Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano pitched the idea of selling the unfinished jail in the city of Detroit, the county announced it's suing the project manager in charge of the unfinished project.

On Wednesday, Wayne County and the Wayne County Building Authority electronically filed a lawsuit against AECOM Services of Michigan, blaming the firm for cost overruns and unauthorized changes in the construction of a new county jail.

The county seeks $154 million from AECOM.  In the suit, Wayne County claims the actions taken by AECOM forced cost increases and eventually lead to the termination of the project.

The suit is now in the hands of the Third Circuit Court and Fox 2 will follow the developments.

Meanwhile, Ficano delivered a pitch to the Wayne County Commission for selling the site to Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures. Gilbert's group says it intends to create high-rises, Brownstown residential units, walk-up retail and a possible a hotel in the place where the county's downtown justice facilities currently sit.

PRESS RELEASE FROM WAYNE COUNTY: Detroit, MI- Today,  the County of Wayne ("County") and the Wayne County Building Authority ("Authority") filed suit against AECOM Services of Michigan, Inc., AECOM Technical Services, Inc., Ghafari Associates, LLC, and the Walbridge-dck Joint Venture (a joint venture between Walbridge Aldinger Co., and dck-Worldwide) related to the failed design and construction of the Consolidated Jail Project in Detroit, Michigan. 

In their complaint, The County and Building Authority allege that the defendants committed in written agreements and/or certifications, that the Jail Project could be designed and constructed for a construction cost of less than $220 Million.  However, as a result of errors, omissions and delays in the design of the project by the defendants subsequently claimed that the construction costs increased by nearly $50 Million.  Consequently, the Authority was forced to suspend the Project and ultimately terminate its contract with Walbridge-dck.

The County and the Authority are seeking recovery from the defendants of the portion of the $154 million spent by the Authority on the project to date resulting from the wrongful conduct of defendants including, but not limited to:

• Failing to keep the cost of construction for the project under $220 Million despite their contractual obligations to work together to do so.

• Failing to perform their contractual obligations in a timely manner and without errors and omissions.

• Failing to design and construct the project at the lowest possible cost consistent with the Authority's quality requirements and at the earliest reasonable time.

The contracts at issue required that any increase to the cost of the project had to be approved by the Authority, yet the defendants proceeded with design and construction activities that allegedly increased the project's construction costs by almost $50 million without ever obtaining approval from the Authority's board for such increases.  As a result, the Authority had to terminate the project as it had no ability to exceed the $220 Million in initial construction costs provided by the defendants.  The suit seeks recovery on behalf of the Wayne County taxpayers for the amounts the County and the Building Authority spent on the jail project based on defendants' unfulfilled promises. 

The suit was filed electronically in Third Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon.


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