After year of mitigation talks, $145M expansion subject of lawsuit

By Shea Johnson
Staff Writer

Posted May. 12, 2015 at 2:09 PM
Updated May 12, 2015 at 3:39 PM

SAN BERNARDINO — Repeated faulty designs for smoke control systems were allegedly to blame for millions in cost overruns for the High Desert Detention Center expansion, according to a lawsuit filed May 1 by San Bernardino County seeking $13.6 million in damages from the project’s architectural and design firms.

The Adelanto jail expansion was completed in February 2014 after going nearly $29 million over budget.

The lawsuit alleging breach of contract and negligence against Los Angeles-based HOK and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. comes after the county announced negotiations were underway in April 2014 between the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute and avoid litigation.

After budgeting $700,000, about $182,000 has been paid by the county to Allen Matkins law firm for legal services, and the lawsuit’s filing would have appeared to indicate that talks of more than a year were unsuccessful. But county spokesman David Wert on Tuesday told the Daily Press that county officials, to the contrary, remain in discussions with the firms as evidenced by the county seeking a six-month stay on the legal action to “resolve this case through mediation,” according to a copy of the complaint obtained Tuesday.

“… The filing of this lawsuit does not represent a breakdown in talks with the defendants, an attempt to put any pressure on them, or any escalation in hostilities,” Wert said. ” … The county’s only interest is in recouping the money. The filing of the lawsuit happened at this time out of time considerations.”

If the next round of talks does not lead to a settlement, a trial-setting conference has been scheduled for Oct. 28 in San Bernardino.

The $145.4 million project opened to much fanfare, nearly tripling the number of inmate beds at HDDC to more than 2,000. But there were purported flaws in the project’s design, the county claimed, which ultimately led to a slew of change orders and amendments to the county’s contract with Lydig Construction.

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