Hattiesburg owes nearly one million dollars for contract breach

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - An award of nearly one million dollars is what the City of Hattiesburg will owe a construction company for unfinished work.

Precision Construction, LLC sued the city this summer and was awarded $927,219.94 in total damages. The project was to fix a sewer line on Timothy Lane and near the old Hercules plant, but the city broke their contract with the company.

"We worked very hard to avoid that [court], and when we finally got no response, we were forced to move forward with suit," said Precision's general counsel Shannon McFarland.

In addition to the damages, the Arbitrator also awarded Precision Construction $76,257.65  in attorney's fees and costs and assessed $7,032.74 dollars in the arbitrator's fees.

Precision Construction's president Nathan Smutzer said that legal action was necessary after Hattiesburg "refused to work with him in good faith or to honor its obligations under the contract."

"We tried several times to meet with the City officials to resolve our dispute without a lawsuit, but they either ignored our requests, and failed to show up for the meeting scheduled to discuss it," Smutzer said in a prepared statement.

McFarland said her company is asking for a judgment since the city has not yet showed that they will pay the fines. That date is expected in the coming weeks.

"They signed a contract agreeing to binding arbitration," said McFarland, noting that she did not believe there were grounds for the decision to be appealed. "That is an obligation on their part. They've chosen not to respond and pay that, so we have again taken them to court."

A judgment hearing has been set for 9 a.m. on Friday, September 26. The hearing is before Judge Helfrich on Precision's motion to enforce arbitration award in Forrest County Circuit Court.

Attorneys for the City of Hattiesburg were unavailable for immediate comment.

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