WILLIAMSTOWN- A $13 million lawsuit has been filed against the Wood County Airport Authority for breach of contract and it blames the facility for the demise of a contractor.
"I really can't comment on the suit," said Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Manager Terry Moore. "Not because I don't want to, but because I don't really know what is going on."
The papers were filed in Wood County Circuit Court on Nov. 26 by Mountaineer Grading, but Moore said because of mishandling of the paperwork, he was not served with the suit until last week when it arrived by certified mail.
The lawsuit claims breach of contract for phases three and four of the airport's Runway Area Safety Project.
According to the paperwork, Mountaineer Grading said the airport authority failed to provide "a design free of defects" for several projects within the overall safety project.
The suit is asking for $3 million in payment for the breach of contract and $10 million for destroying the company.
About the case
A $13 million lawsuit has been filed against the Wood County Airport Authority for breach of contract and the demise of the construction company.
Mountaineer Grading filed the papers in Wood County Circuit Court on Nov. 26, but they were not received by the airport until last week, said Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport manager Terry Moore.
The suit is based on the Runway Area Safety Project, a federally-funded project that was expected to last no more than two years when ground was broken in the summer of 2006. Mountaineer Grading's insurance company granted funds to the airport this year to hire a new company to finish the work.
Earlier in this year, Rifenberg Construction was chosen to complete the project after years of little to no work, Moore said. The project includes the creation of a 500-foot safety area on either end of the runway along with light towers to extend the visual of the runway by 2,400 feet.
The safety project was decreed by the Federal Aviation Administration with West Virginia being the first state having completed those at the state's federally obligated airports.
Why the project took more than three times its expected construction length is anyone's guess, Moore said.
Mountaineer Grading cut back work several years ago with as few as three workers on site before the company pulled out all together. The airport went into lawyer-to-lawyer discussions with Mountaineer Grading's bonding company, Travelers Insurance, and it was decided the company was in default since it hadn't been at the site since August 2011.
When the company left, the project was about 95 percent completed with certain navigational aids, including the light towers and electric to run them, not working.
Through the agreement with Travelers that the construction company is liable for the incomplete job, the company agreed to pay a certain amount of money to complete the work.
Moore added that the roughly $13.4 million project is nearing completion but some things have changed in the FAA's technology requirements before it can be finished.
"We are not sure what direction we will take," Moore said. "But I am trying not to get too upset by this filing."
Airport authority president Bill Richardson, also an attorney in Parkersburg, said the board has defenses for the suit.
"We intend to assert these defenses at the appropriate time," he said.