A jury awarded a construction company with more than $200,000 last week for unpaid work building a minipark in City Heights.
APR Construction won the bid to build the Central Avenue Mini Park in July 2014 and work started in October 2014. That was when problems started for APR. Bills after bills were sent to the city of San Diego but they went unpaid.
"We worked for four months without one check," APR's owner Eric Scarbrough said. He said the city's Public Works Department delayed or disputed his bills.
"This is my fifth project for the city of San Diego so I got a pretty good idea of how it's supposed to go and it didn't go that way," he said.
It was a complete surprise to Scarbrough when San Diego fired his company for default in June 2015. That default finding by the city means that APR's bonding surety company had to step in and complete the project with a new contractor and pay for any costs incurred above the original bid.
"I was floored," Scarbrough said about the firing. "I couldn’t believe it because the first thing I’m thinking is, ‘Whoa, wait a minute.'"
Scarbrough sued the city, claiming breach of contract. A jury found for Scarbrough and awarded APR $202,000 in damages.
"It was a bittersweet process," he said.
APR Construction was the second such company to successfully sue the city, civil engineer Michael Cornelius said. He helped Scarbrough with his case and said there are more companies out there with similar complaints against the city.
"It goes on all the time," Cornelius said. "There’s lots of contractors. I’m representing three of them right now that are having problems."
The park should have cost $1 million to build but with legal fees and paying a new construction company to finish the park, the total cost could be double that, he said.
"It's a systemic, systematic problem," Cornelius said.
The City Attorney's Office says it is still reviewing the verdict and declined to comment.
Scarbrough though has sworn off bidding for another job with the city.
"I will never do another job for the city of San Diego," he said.