Fairfield seeks $3 million in suit over contaminated fill pile
FAIRFIELD — The battle with Julian Development and its handling of the town’s partially contaminated fill pile has found its way to court.
The town has filed suit in state Superior Court in Bridgeport against Julian, seeking up to $3 million in payment over the fill pile on One Rod Highway.
Claiming a breach of contract, the town has filed a request for a prejudgment remedy to secure the $3 million. A hearing is slated for May 15.
Julian Development did not return a call seeking comment on the suit, which claims the pile of construction debris and road cleaning spoils grew, despite the contract calling for the pile to be reduced. The town’s suit also claims that a small portion of the material brought to the pile was
contaminated with low levels of PCBs and lead.
Eleven firms have submitted bids to remove the contaminated material have been received, and the apparent low bid from Bridgeport-based Connecticut Tank Removal puts the cost at $192,555.
However, the town expects the cost to remove the rest of the pile to be much higher.
“The town is seeking a prejudgment remedy in the amount of $3 million, which we believe is the approximate cost for the removal of the stockpile,” attorney Stuart Katz said. “The town may also seek additional amounts in the lawsuit based upon hazardous waste removal costs.”
Katz said a prejudgment remedy if granted, allows the town to attach receivables and assets of Julian Development to secure the potential judgment.
According to the suit, the contract with Julian required the firm “to inspect all loads, stop work, and notify the superintendent of Public Works immediately if any contaminated material was brought to the facility.” The contaminated material was discovered as by a licensed environmental professional, hired by the town, who happened to be at the site making an inspection visit.
And rather than reduce the pile, which has been in the Public Works yard for several decades, “the stockpile approximately tripled in total height and volume from 2013 to 2016.
The three-year contract required a $50,000 performance bond for the duration of the agreement. The suit states, however, “the town has been unable to collect on any such purported bond.” The bond received from Julian came from Newport Insurance Company, Inc., and was signed by attorney Leo Rush. The copy of the bond received from the town was dated Oct. 3, 2016, and states that it is “written on an annual basis and must be renewed yearly.”
“As part of Julian Development’s obligations, it was required to provide a performance bond in the amount of $50,000 to guarantee its performance; however, at this point, the town has been unable to collect on that bond,” Katz said. “The town intends to continue its collection efforts with respect to that bond, and to better understand the circumstances surrounding any of the bond’s deficiencies.”
In 2014, the Florida Insurance Commissioner ordered Rush to cease and desist “acting as a surety or engaging in the security business, either directly or indirectly.” In internet search also turned up several other orders from insurance commissioners in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. In 2007, Rush allegedly sold a performance bond to Finocchio Brothers that was rejected by the town of Greenwich. Rush’s $15,000 refund check to Finocchio bounced due to insufficient funds.
The website for Newport Insurance Company, based in Providence, R.I., lists Rush as the administrator and states the firm “was conceived and established by and for contractors and owners that need bonded contractors. Usually, these will be principals that have been unable to obtain access to licensed companies that would consider taking them as clients.”
Bonds issued by the company, according to the website, are backed by collateral, and in some cases, cash collateral equal to a percentage of the bond that would then be placed in an escrow account.