County Supervisors up legal services contract by $400K

By Shea Johnson
Staff Writer
Follow @@DP_Shea
Posted Apr. 12, 2016 at 4:25 PM

SAN BERNARDINO — Attorney fees could rise above $1 million in the county’s lawsuit against the architectural and design firms of the High Desert Detention Center expansion in Adelanto, which was completed in February 2014 after falling nearly $29 million over budget.

Last week, San Bernardino County Supervisors authorized increasing the not-to-exceed amount from $700,000 to $1.1 million in its contract for legal services with Allen Matkins law firm. County spokesman David Wert said Tuesday the county has so far paid roughly $400,000 in attorney fees and another $240,000 in expert fees.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit against Los Angeles-based HOK and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. remains active with the next hearing scheduled for April 27, according to Los Angeles County court records, where the civil case is being heard.

The county sued HOK and Jacobs Engineering in May alleging breach of contract and negligence for cost overruns it blamed on faulty designs for smoke control systems and other deficiencies, seeking $13.6 million in damages.

“The county is informed and believes that Lydig (Construction) internally began to raise questions with HOK and Jacobs about the sufficiency of their design of smoke control systems in January of 2011,” the county’s complaint stated. “Ultimately, it took nearly two years for HOK and Jacobs to rectify all of the defects in their designs.”

County officials said they were forced to accelerate the project as the county incurred costs to do so, faced with a quickly evaporating Jan. 31, 2014, timeline for completion and at risk of losing $100 million in state funding.

HOK and Jacobs Engineering denied the claims in legal filings last October.

“HOK fully performed, satisfied and discharged all duties and obligation that it may have owed to Plaintiff arising out of any and all agreements, representations, contracts made by or on behalf of HOK …,” the company said Oct. 30 in its response to an amended complaint.

Both companies specifically denied “any deficiencies in design attributable to (them)” or that they were responsible for delays, setbacks or additional costs with the project.

Revealed to the public with much fanfare, the jail expansion nearly tripled the number of inmate beds at the detention center to more than 2,000. But the purported flaws in the project’s design, the county claimed, had led to a slew of change orders and amendments to the county’s contract with Lydig Construction, which is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

To read expanded article, click here.