A company hired by the city of Washington to clear debris from a building that collapsed in July 2017 filed a lawsuit Thursday against the city in federal court claiming fraud, breach of contract, violation of civil rights and other charges.
Allegheny Crane Rental Inc. contracted with the city July 21, 2017, to demolish the building at 15 N. Main St., where a woman was trapped beneath the rubble for nearly 10 hours before she was rescued.
The contract specified for the company to complete demolition and other services agreed on by Allegheny Crane and the city.
Allegheny Crane claims in the suit the city has refused to pay approximately $1.6 million, including interest and other costs, for work completed over several months.
According to the lawsuit, Allegheny Crane has “sustained substantial damages.”
Among other things, it states, the company “has incurred substantial expenses in connection with the services performed at the defendant’s request” and “has not been able to perform other work given the substantial unreimbursed costs it sustained due to the defendant’s refusal to pay the outstanding invoices.”
The company also claims the city violated its civil rights by hiring Allegheny Crane without having the money to pay them, and further alleges the city never intended to pay the company for its service.
The city secured an emergency demolition order in Washington County Court the day of the collapse. The city later hired Allegheny Crane Rental to perform the demolition work.
A portion of the lawsuit reads, “the city’s act of procuring services from the plaintiff without having or procuring the funds to pay for said services, never having intended to procure the funds to pay for the services, and subsequently advising the plaintiff that it would not pay the claim, violates the plaintiff’s rights, constituting an unlawful taking of the property of the plaintiff.”
City officials initially estimated the demolition would cost between $300,000 and $750,000, but the bill soon surpassed $1 million.
Allegheny Crane contends the city knew, or should have known, it did not have the money to pay for the extensive work the company performed.
The lawsuit is suing for damages of an unspecified amount to compensate the company for it losses. Allegheny Crane also is asking for attorneys’ fees, interest and other costs.
City of Washington Mayor Scott Putnam declined to comment on the lawsuit.