Routt County wins Connell case about airport work
Litigation was related to plane parking project at Yampa Valley Regional Airport
December 14, 2010
Steamboat Springs — A seven-member jury ruled in favor of Routt County and against all breach-of-contract claims made by paving contractor Connell Resources related to work at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in 2005 and 2006.
The jury's ruling came Monday night, after eight hours of deliberation about litigation that began more than a year ago and culminated in a trial in Routt County District Court in the past two weeks. Routt County attorney John Merrill said the jury received 11 pages of "special verdict" instructions Monday with 31 questions related to breach-of-contract allegations, claims and possibilities for damages.
"They found for the county on each of the claims that was presented to them," Merrill said.
County officials praised their legal staff and lawyers.
"All the credit goes to the hardworking lawyers we had that presented the case," Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "We are very pleased with the outcome."
YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel has said Connell's contract work involved construction of three large-aircraft parking spots designed for Boeing 757s and additional parking areas for vehicles. The work was part of the $16 million second phase of the airport's multiyear improvements.
Filed in late 2009 in Routt County District Court, Connell's lawsuit claimed numerous breaches of contract by Routt County through its engineering firm. At the time, that firm was Carter & Burgess.
Connell's contract was for $9.4 million, according to the lawsuit.
Attorneys for Connell did not seek specific monetary damages, but they alleged in their complaint that the county cost their client more than $1 million by reneging on the contract terms and withholding funds.
Merrill said Tuesday that he did not have an exact figure for the county's legal costs.
"It's a lot; $600,000 is going to be low," Merrill said.
He said the litigation's burden could be felt at YVRA, which as an enterprise fund in the Routt County budget is independent of the county's general fund and operating dollars.
"Its impact is going to be on the airport capital improvement budget," Merrill said about the legal costs.
He noted that the jury's ruling might not signal an end to legal proceedings.
"We'll probably try to get some of our costs back, and they'll probably object to that," Merrill said, referring to possible action by Connell. "A lot of other procedural things could happen."