Amid construction industry troubles, Big Apple Testing gets small victory

Mar.March 09, 2010 12:30 PM

As construction and concrete testing companies and their executives increasingly come under fire in the city, one concrete testing company has received a bit of good news.

A State Supreme Court judge ordered the city Department of Buildings to grant a hearing to a Whitestone-based concrete testing company that was denied one after applying to renew its license to operate in New York.

The firm, Big Apple Testing, filed suit in January after DOB refused to reinstate its license, claiming the firm previously continued to operate after its license had expired Sept. 15, 2008.
Judge Alice Schlesinger denied a request by the firm to have its license automatically reinstated, but said DOB must give the firm an opportunity to present its case in a face-to-face meeting.

“I find that the allegations [against Big Apple], at least in part, appear to be of a rather technical nature and do not appear to smack of fraud or unsafe practices,” Schlesinger wrote in her March 1 opinion, released on March 4. “As was pointed out in the petition, BAT has been conducting business pursuant to a license renewal since 1992, a period of 17 years, apparently without event except for license renewals occasionally filed for [sic] late but always granted.”

Big Apple Testing has annual revenue of more than $900,000 and has been in business for about 18 years, according to court records.

The ruling comes at a time when there have been numerous construction-related deaths in New York and a recent fraud conviction against a prominent concrete testing company.

Just yesterday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office indicted two corporations, their top executive, and a mechanic with criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter in the May 30, 2008 crane collapse incident at the Azure condominium at 333 East 91st Street, which resulted in two deaths and one serious injury. DOB came under immense criticism that year amid allegations that inspectors overlooked safety problems related to the same firm in a second fatal accident at East 51st Street.

Last month, the top two executives at Testwell Laboratories were found guilty on charges of faking concrete testing results and drafting fake construction records. That firm was a contractor on thousands of prominent construction projects in New York City, including the new Yankee Stadium and construction at Ground Zero.

Stuart Klein, attorney for Big Apple Testing, claims that other contractors have been denied licenses by DOB after the construction scandals began. DOB, he said, then claimed that Big Apple did not promptly respond to additional inquiries about getting the matter resolved.

Klein claims that DOB has been quietly trying to weed out contractors that it doesn’t want since those incidents.

“We’ll get down there and hopefully have a fairly good hearing,” Klein said. “The buildings department, instead of brining them up on charges now, is just waiting for [contractors] to renew licenses and refuses to renew them.”

DOB officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

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