WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Keokuk Seeks Lawsuit Dismissal

May 21, 2015

Keokuk is fighting back against a claim that it's not living up to the terms of a 2012 contract. On Monday, the city filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it by John W. Sammons Construction Company.

Sammons Construction claimed in its lawsuit, filed in district court in April, that it has yet to receive full payment for the installation of about 28 manholes.

The city hired the company to do the work, at a cost of $578,807, in June 2012 as part of Keokuk's multi-million dollar sewer separation project.

Sammons Construction said the work is complete, but the city claims the exact opposite in its motion to dismiss.

City Attorney Douglas Dorando stated in his motion that per the contract, "final payment shall not come due until the work has been satisfactorily completed and accepted by the city."  He went on state that, "as Sammons has not yet completed the work specified in the contract, that duty has not yet come due" and that "this suit is premature and is about a possible future harm, not a concrete present harm that can be redressed."

The installation of the manholes was expected to take a few months to complete, but one year later, there was still work to do.  The city council considered cancelling the contract in June 2013 and hiring someone else to complete the work, but instead, gave Sammons Construction the opportunity to finish the work.

The company was not off the hook, though, as aldermen agreed at the time to penalize the company for the delay.  The city said the late fees totaled $40,000.  An updated figure was not available. 

The city has yet to accept a certificate of completion for the work. This week, as the city said it could not comment on the lawsuit.

A hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled for 8:00 A.M. on Monday, June 8 at the south Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk.  The court will also consider a second motion from the city during that hearing.

Keokuk wants to know the specific amount of money Sammons Construction is seeking in terms of late payments and/or damages.  The company's lawsuit does not list a specific number.  Instead, it requests compensatory damages, interest, costs and other relief.