A New Jersey construction company has sued Rockland County for nearly $1.2 million claiming that the government improperly withheld payments for a flood control project.
Metra Industries Inc. of Little Falls was hired in 2013 to build the Pascack Brook Bypass Culvert in Spring Valley to alleviate flood problems for more than 80 homeowners
The company claims in a lawsuit filed on May 11 in federal court in White Plains that Rockland arbitrarily withheld 5 percent from each payment as the project progressed. The “retainage” totaled $426,742, Metra states, and was not allowed under state Department of Transportation rules.
Metra states it finished the work in October 2015. During 23 months on the project, it claims, it repeatedly objected to the five percent retainage and the county did not assert any claims.
Now Rockland is justifying the practice to protect itself from liens filed by two subcontractors that were not paid: B&B Concrete Enterprises, $32,498, and Anchor Fence, $10,879.
The lawsuit states that the subcontractor claims are byproducts of the county’s withholding payments from Metra, and Metra had protected the county by taking out performance and payments bonds.
The lawsuit also states the county is improperly claiming $93,427 for inspections.
Metra states the county repeatedly required it to do extra work — such as building a bridge at Union Road and repairing leaky water pipes — but denied all requests to extend the project deadline.
Metra states Rockland owes $1,170,374 for withholding payments, extra work and damages caused by delays and disruptions to do the extra work.
The lawsuit does not say how much the original contract was worth, but a 2014 news story put the price tag at $10 million.
Metra states it tried to resolve the dispute in a November meeting, but the Rockland County Drainage Authority, acting on behalf of the county, has refused to close out the contract or pay the balance of the contract.
County Executive Ed Day cannot comment on the allegations, a spokeswoman said, because it is county policy not to comment on pending litigation.
The company is suing for breach of contract and unjust enrichment.