A contentious lawsuit alleging mismanagement, project delays and $22.4 million in unpaid work during the construction of the Virgin MiamiCentral train station has ended with steel maker ADF International walking away with a $10.5 million settlement.
In the complaint, the Great Falls, Montana-based company claimed critical mistakes and plan revisions by project general contractor Suffolk Construction and structural engineering firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill resulted in ADF International increasing its workload without compensation. In turn, Suffolk and Skidmore filed counterclaims against All Aboard Florida, which is now known as Virgin Trains USA Florida.
The suit was filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
According to a Sept. 30 dismissal order, the four firms, along with three project insurers, agreed to drop the litigation after reaching the settlement on the 10th day of trial. Stuart Sobel, ADF’s lawyer, said witness testimony from steel erection experts and ADF’s engineering director Vincent Paschini demonstrated that his client had credible claims.
“It took [the defendants] some time to come around, but everyone recognized that we were entitled to a bunch of money,” Sobel said. “We were pleased to engage them in these negotiations and reach what is a very fair settlement. It is a lot more than they wanted to pay.”
Sobel said Virgin Trains USA, Skidmore, and Suffolk will each contribute toward the $10.5 million. Suffolk in-house lawyer Monique Cardenas and a Virgin Trains USA spokesperson said neither company comments on litigation matters. Skidmore attorney Curtis Brown did not respond to an email requesting comment.
According to ADF’s lawsuit, the steel firm’s scope of work and time to complete it increased as a result of errors, omissions, conflicts and changes to the plans and specifications by Suffolk and Skidmore. ADF claims that Suffolk and Skidmore often ignored its requests to provide revised plans and instructions. Other times, ADF would allegedly receive untimely, incomplete or inaccurate responses.
In its lawsuit, ADF alleges that Suffolk repeatedly failed to properly manage subcontractors by having other trades get in the way of ADF’s work. Suffolk also allegedly failed to complete jobs that preceded ADF’s installation of steel components and also allegedly failed to control the movement of Metromover and Metrorail trains during the times ADF was required to erect steel for new tracks, the lawsuit states.
In November of last year, Brightline — formerly All Aboard Florida — and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced a strategic partnership. The deal includes a minority investment in the high-speed passenger rail company that currently has three stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. All three stations are anchored by mixed-use developments. Virgin Trains USA, which plans to add stops in Orlando and Tampa, recently nixed an IPO that the company said would have raised $619 million.