The construction management company staged a protest as the district filed a motion to dismiss the racketeering lawsuit.
By Isaac Dektor, Editor-in-Chief
As representatives from Pinner Construction held a demonstration today to raise awareness for delays to the Valley Academic and Cultural Center outside of LACCD’s headquarters, the district filed a motion to dismiss the company’s racketeering lawsuit.
Pinner employees and subcontractors toted signs reading “stop wasting taxpayer money” as the board of trustees commenced their regular meeting today. After winning a $3.2 million arbitration in April, the company filed a complaint against district representatives overseeing the VACC construction. The third party contractor alleges the district maliciously delayed the project by prohibiting vertical splicing, the joining of reinforcing steel, above 30 feet on Valley College’s new main stage theater walls. While the arbiter determined Pinner was right to assume that vertical splicing would be allowed and awarded the company with a sizable compensation for the delay, the district maintains its original position.
“The district and the Department of State Architect are principally concerned with the code compliance and structural integrity of the building,” said the LACCD in a statement to the Valley Star. “The construction documents on which the contractor based their bid did not allow for splicing except for in specific areas identified on the approved drawings.”
Pinner won 90 percent of its liquidated damages claim and $1 million in interest as a result of the arbitration.
The district refuted the third party contractor’s racketeering allegation by issuing a statement asserting that the accusation is without merit because “the vast majority of contractors on this project (and all district projects), including the program and project managers, work on a fixed fee basis.”
“The statement is half true,” said Lanny Davis, a lawyer representing Pinner construction. “It's misleading to say they're working on a fixed fee because the longer the project takes, the more the fee grows. So they get paid extra, beyond the fixed fee, because of the delays.”
The district filed a motion in court today to dismiss the lawsuit and an anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that the complaint unfairly names board members.
While Pinner expects the project to be completed in March of 2023, further delays could arise from ongoing litigation. The building is already four years behind schedule and $12 million over budget.
“Let's compromise and we will kill this scam of delaying everything so that they get paid more,” said Davis. “We have pleaded with the district - sit down with us now. Let’s get a mediator.”
Whether the delays arose out of malicious intent is in dispute, but both parties agree that having clear plans in pre construction and bidding processes will help to avoid similar problems from occurring in the future.
“The District is ensuring that DSA-approved drawings are clear to potential bidders and that contractors understand that their bids need to exactly conform to those drawings,” reads a statement from the district.