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Centerplan blames subcontractors for Dunkin' Donuts Park delays

BY Matt Pilon

9/5/2018
Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin
A game at Dunkin' Donuts Park
Centerplan Construction Company, embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with the city of Hartford over its firing from the Dunkin' Donuts Park and Downtown North developments, is now blaming a half-dozen subcontractors for construction delays, cost overruns and alleged shoddy work, according to legal filings.

Over the protests of the city's lawyers, Centerplan has successfully brought into the case six companies that were involved in the stadium's design. The third-party defendants include Missouri-based Pendulum Studio, which was the architect of record on the project, as well as The S/L/A/M Collaborative of Glastonbury, Newman Architects of New Haven, BVH Integrated Services of Bloomfield, BETA Group of Hartford, and DTC Engineers of Hamden.

The city hired Centerplan and DoNo Hartford LLC, both controlled by Robert Landino, in early 2015. Delays in stadium construction following a $10 million cost overrun forced the Hartford Yard Goats to play their inaugural season entirely on the road.

The city fired Centerplan and DoNo Hartford LLC in mid-2016, prompting the companies to file a $90 million lawsuit against the city. Performance bond insurer Arch Insurance hired a new contractor to finish the job.

The city filed a counterclaim against Centerplan and DoNo in Oct. 2017, alleging breach of contract, negligence and professional malpractice -- much of it related to alleged defects and deficiencies in the stadium design.

Responding to that countersuit, Centerplan and DoNo have denied that they're liable to the city for any damages suffered as a result of design defects, or that they were negligent with respect to the supervision or management of the design services related to the stadium.

Instead, they argue that damages the city suffered resulted from negligence, carelessness, omissions or other actions by the six design subcontractors. Centerplan and DoNo claim they performed no design work themselves, and that the design was in the exclusive control of Pendulum.

Centerplan and DoNo say the third-party defendants should have to pay any financial damages that may result.

The city of Hartford's attorney, Terence Brunau of Murtha Cullina, argued in a June court filing that Centerplan, not any of the six design firms, forced design changes to the stadium that led to delays and higher costs, including changes to part of the right-field roof, and modifying the design of interior walls and risers.

Brunau called DoNo and Centerplan's attempt to deflect blame "a litigation tactic to divert attention from their own various and well-documented management, supervision, design and construction defects and deficiencies on the project."

He wrote that the companies were "painting the design professionals as the scapegoat for [Centerplan's] and DoNo's own failings."

Despite that objection, Judge Thomas Moukawsher approved the motion to bring new defendants into the suit on July 24, court records show.

The city declined comment for this story. In a statement, S/L/A/M, which was hired by Pendulum to perform a specific scope of work on the project, said it will "vigorously defend any claim that our performance caused damage to either Centerplan or the city."

Attorneys for Pendulum and the other third-party defendants, as well as lawyers for DoNo and Centerplan, did not respond to requests for comment.

Despite the ongoing legal dispute, Ballpark Digest has named Dunkin' Donuts Park the best Double-A ballpark in the country for the past two years in a row.