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Settlements Reached on Madison County Jail Construction Dispute

December 16, 2014
(Huntsville, AL) - The City of Huntsville's outside legal counsel has reached a tentative settlement agreement with four of the parties involved in a legal dispute over construction on the Madison County jail. The agreements will be presented to the Huntsville City Council for approval at the Council's December 18 meeting.

According to City Attorney Peter Joffrion, these documents start the process of drawing the jail litigation to a close. They extinguish the claims that Dawson General Contractors had against the City of Huntsville and resolve claims that Dawson and the City of Huntsville, through its Public Building Authority, had with respect to each other. The agreements also resolve claims against some of the major defendants, including the design team and several of the major subcontractors. Joffrion says he anticipates settlements with two more of the remaining defendants within the next several months.

"There are no winners here," said Joffrion. "Every party in this litigation has experienced some of the pain in what has been an extremely long and complicated process. In the end, it is advantageous to the taxpayer and to all parties involved that this litigation is finally drawing to a close."

Joffrion says not a penny of taxpayer money will be used in the settlement. Dawson will receive the first $2.3 million paid from the parties' representative insurance firms. Additional monies paid into the settlement fund will be split 50-50 between Dawson and the City of Huntsville.

Dawson was hired in 2004 by the Public Building Authority to construct the Madison County Jail for about $25 million. When inspectors discovered faulty cracks in a support beam, the project stopped, and Dawson was subsequently released as contractor. The jail was eventually completed by Lee Builders in 2010 at an additional $50 million cost. Since that time, the Public Building Authority sued Dawson and several of the company's subcontractors for the cost overruns. In turn, Dawson counter-sued the Public Building Authority for $9 million in unpaid work. The ongoing litigation has cost the City about $3.5 million to date. Approximately half of that amount was used to diagnose deficiencies in design and construction, and redesign the remaining work, so that the facility could be completed in a structurally sound, safe, and functional manner.

Pending City Council approval Thursday night, the settlement agreements eliminate the need to proceed with a costly trial, scheduled for October 2015.


For more information, please contact:

Kelly Cooper Schrimsher, Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor, 256-427-5006 (w), kelly.schrimsher@huntsvilleal.gov

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