A jury has returned a verdict in favour of the plaintiff in the case of Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) v. Seattle Tunnel Partners (“STP”) at a trial conducted in the Thurston County District Court in the state of Washington. The trial dealt with various disputed claims related to Seattle’s SR 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project, which was constructed by STP, a joint venture between the Company and Dragados USA, Inc. Damages of $57.2M have been reported as being awarded to WSDOT.
Tutor Perini Corporation has released the following statement in reaction to the jury verdict:
“Tutor Perini is disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal the verdict in this case, which conflicts directly with the findings of an independent Dispute Review Board’s (“DRB”) proceedings that were conducted over the course of the project, including a key finding by the DRB that the steel pipe casing unexpectedly encountered by the tunnel boring machine constituted a “differing site condition.” Over the past several years, Tutor Perini has consistently asserted that the Company (through its 45% participation in STP) is owed compensation for substantial costs incurred as a result of that unexpected encounter and the subsequent delays and repairs that ensued. The Company is reviewing today’s decision to evaluate any potential financial impact on the Company and will provide any required disclosure once that evaluation has been completed. A separate court trial in King County, Washington pertaining to the pursuit of associated claims against insurance policies that covered the project is expected to occur in the latter part of next year or in 2021.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar issued this joint statement:
“The opening of the SR 99 tunnel and the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct were transformative for Seattle,” Inslee said. “Hundreds of workers, including the SR 99 tunnel contractor, deserve our thanks for the herculean effort it took to repair the tunneling machine and finish the SR 99 tunnel. Some wanted to abandon this project, but we should be thankful Washington persisted in the face of difficulties. We never wavered from our position that it was always the contractor’s responsibility to fix the tunneling machine and that taxpayers should not pay the repair bill. We are grateful the jury agreed and awarded damages to taxpayers for a tunnel delivered three years behind schedule.”
“WSDOT is committed to protecting taxpayer money,” Millar said. “Knowing the risks associated with tunneling beneath downtown Seattle, we structured our contract with Seattle Tunnel Partners in a way that placed the risks of tunneling on the contractor. We have remained steadfast in our belief that Seattle Tunnel Partners was responsible for the costs of fixing the broken tunneling machine and paying damages for completing the tunnel three years late. We believe the jury got it right and we are grateful for their patience and dedication to ensuring a fair outcome to this case. Since an appeal is possible, we cannot yet say what will become of the damages awarded by the jury.”