Suffolk sued for allegedly bilking PortMiami terminal subcontractor out of $2.6M

Virgin Voyages’ Terminal V was completed last year

Miami /
Apr.April 06, 2022 02:30 PM

Suffolk Construction’s CEO and chairman John Fish in front of 905 South America Way (Getty Images, Virgin Voyages, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

Suffolk Construction is accused of shortchanging a subcontractor on PortMiami’s newest terminal by $2.6 million.

Suncor, a structural steel fabricator, sued Suffolk for withholding payment, including for extra expenses accrued because the plans Suffolk provided were incomplete and had errors, according to a breach of contract lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in March.

Suncor was a subcontractor on Terminal V, Virgin Voyages’ new terminal, where it docks its inaugural ship, Scarlet Lady, and other vessels. Plantation-based Virgin Voyages is a joint venture of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Boston-based private investment firm Bain Capital. Suncor has an office in Hialeah.

The $180 million Terminal V was completed last year, according to Miami-Dade County, which owns the port.

As the design-build contractor, Suffolk was responsible for the plans provided by the engineer. So, to the extent there were any errors or gaps, the accountability falls on Suffolk, said attorney Stuart​ Sobel, who represents Suncor.

“Suncor has done something like 100 jobs for Suffolk all over the country for 25 years. They had a great relationship with Suffolk until this job,” Sobel said. “And they are really at a wit’s end to explain why Suffolk has taken this position.”

Boston-based Suffolk declined comment.

Suffolk accused Suncor of delaying the job, but the steel contractor has proven that it did not, according to Sobel.

Contracted in 2020, Suncor brought to Suffolk’s attention errors and requests for necessary changes of the plans, which Suffolk was supposed to take “up the chain” to the design team and Miami-Dade, according to the complaint. Suncor also submitted change orders tracking the extra work and expenses.

Most, but not all, of the $2.6 million owed is for extra work Suncor had to do because of the shortcomings in the original plan. Suncor should have received responses, but its inquiries were either ignored or it received late and incomplete answers, the suit says.

“Nevertheless, Suncor was expected (and directed by Suffolk) to proceed with the work, even in the absence of an appropriate change order, time extension, or payment for the changed or additional work,” according to the complaint.

The case comes on the heels of dueling lawsuits between Suffolk and A3 Development, led by brothers Jules and Eddie Trump, over the Estates at Acqualina condominium project in Sunny Isles Beach. (Jules and Eddie Trump are not related to Donald Trump.)

A3 Development sued Suffolk in February over construction delays. Suffolk is building the two-tower project at 17909 Collins Avenue. In a suit filed in March against A3, Suffolk claimed that it was directed to do additional work, yet it was not provided with information to make the needed changes nor paid for the extra work.





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