Hardball: Orlando construction firm sues general contractor for $1.2M in alleged unpaid work at MLB spring training facility

At least seven other suits have been filed against contractor Hunt Construction related to Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (Credit: fitteamballpark.com)
Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (Credit: fitteamballpark.com)

The company responsible for building the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the spring training home for defending World Series champs Houston Astros, is facing another legal fight over unpaid bills for construction work at the $489 million ballpark.

North Carolina-based CCK Construction Services sued Hunt Construction Group, a subsidiary of publicly traded engineering firm Aecom, in Palm Beach County Circuit Court last week for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The complaint also names five insurance companies as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, Hunt owes CCK $1.2 million in unpaid invoices for “cast-in-place concrete services” the firm provided for the troubled Major League Baseball project. Late last year, Hunt was named as a defendant in at least seven lawsuits filed by subcontractors and suppliers that worked on the baseball park and spring training facility. Hunt was the lead general contractor in a joint venture that also included Straticon Construction, Messam Construction and Cooper Construction.

Ralf Rodriguez, CCK’s lawyer, and Hunt spokeswoman Rachel Weiss did not respond to voice messages and emails seeking comment.

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Hunt entered into a $6.2 million contract with CCK on Nov. 2, 2015, according to a copy of the agreement attached to the lawsuit. The scope of work called for CCK to furnish cast-in-place concrete for the stadium and clubhouses. The lawsuit alleges Hunt has refused to pay $1.2 million of undisputed labor and materials CCK provided.

Ballpark of the Palm Beaches has been a source of controversy since opening last year. In addition to the Astros, the baseball park is also the spring training home for the Washington Nationals. Both teams received $113 million in tourist tax revenue from Palm Beach County and $50 million from the state to finance about a third of Ballpark’s construction cost.

Yet, the teams allege shoddy construction plagued the project, including poorly installed windows and clubhouse showers. As a result, some payments to joint venture Hunt Straticon Messam and Cooper were withheld, which led to unhappy subcontractors that didn’t get paid. Some of those companies included Davco Electrical, which alleges it is owed $6 million, Mancils Tractor Service, which claimed it is owed $4 million, and MIK Construction, which has an unpaid claim for $500,000.

Laura Hanrahan contributed reporting.