Jury rules Adams County owes Blick’s Construction $117,021 for demolition work in jail project

Adams County Jail

The $32 million Adams County Jail opened in May 2020. The new facility has a capacity of 192 spread out over three floors of the Adams County Courthouse, compared to the 120 prisoners the former jail could hold. The offices for the Adams County Sheriff’s Department and the Quincy Police Department are in the new building as well. | David Adam

QUINCY — After a three-day trial, an Adams County jury ruled Wednesday that Blick’s Construction, the contractor that demolished buildings to make way for the new county jail, was entitled to $117,021 for additional work it finished in 2017.

Blick’s filed the suit in April 2018.

The county accepted in January 2017 a bid by Blick’s Construction to complete demolition tasks for $677,112. Blick’s made its bid based upon details listed in a “project manual” created by the architectural firm of Poepping Stone Bach & Associates of Quincy. The county paid the figure in the original bid.

Blick’s listed five instances in its complaint where changes had to be made because of incorrect or incomplete information in the project manual. Those changes resulted in additional costs that the county refused to pay. 

Quincy attorney Tad Brenner was the attorney for Blick’s when the complaint was filed. However, he now serves as a judge for the Eighth Judicial Circuit. Jason Schutte, a former Quincy attorney now with Koepke & Hiltabrand in Springfield, replaced Brenner.

“The defense had always been based on the argument that Blick’s didn’t follow the proper change order process of getting approval for these extra and unforeseen costs,” Schutte said. “But the evidence showed that was not correct. In fact, Mr. (Kent) Snider, the County Board president, when confronted with his own architect’s testimony that Blick’s did comply with the change order procedure, he testified he still wouldn’t agree to pay (Blick’s).”

In its complaint, Blick’s charged the county:

  • An extra $5,600 for removal of a retaining wall at the former Adams County Health Department building, 330 N. Sixth, that was more than twice as thick than what PSBA listed in the project manual.
  • An extra $16,150 for the removal of 1,700 cubic yards of debris and an extra $55,896 for the removal of 2,550 tons of rock from a parking lot between 304 and 314 N. Sixth. Blick’s learned the parking lot was built over a previously demolished building. It claimed that building was not referenced in the project manual. Blick’s claimed the debris from the former building was placed into the basement area of that building and covered up. That made it necessary to remove the debris and for the area to be properly filled.
  • An extra $7,496 for removing 342 tons of rock and $1,045 for removing a basement structure from a building at 607 Vermont, previously owned by Dale and Marty Venvertloh. After demolition began, Blick’s claimed it discovered a basement rather than a crawl space as described in the project manual. That led to the additional cost.
  • An extra $6,720 for the removal of a concrete foundation and $13,152 for bringing in 600 tons of extra rock during the demolition of a building at 609 Vermont, previously owned by Jeffrey Stupavsky. The project manual noted the foundation walls were made of limestone. Blick’s claimed the foundation was limestone on top of a concrete foundation, which was more costly to remove. Also, the concrete portions of the foundation ran deeper than it was described in the project manual. The rock was used to fill the void.
  • An extra $10,960 for 500 tons of rock used at the site of the former Hopewell Clinic, 314 and 316 N. Sixth. Following the demolition of the building, Blick’s claimed a void approximately two feet deep existed where the slab foundation had been. The rock was used to fill the void and avoid the formation of a mud pit. 

Blick’s presented an invoice to the county on April 17, 2017, for all the extra charges.

“There were several unforeseen conditions that was had absolutely nothing to do with the project at all,” Schutte said. 

“There was a parking lot that never was part of the initial bid for the demolition. (Blick’s) eventually learned that, like many old buildings were back in the day when it was demolished. It was just knocked down in the basement and buried. They dumped some rock on it and turned it into a parking lot. Nobody knew that at first, and the architects didn’t apparently discover it. 

“So Blick’s calls the architect and says they can’t build over that. The architect says they have to take (the rubble) out and fill it with the proper granular rock. So Blick’s does that. They did the work, they bought the rock, they put it in there. The county still refused to pay him for it.

“It was a good win.”

“Adams County is obviously disappointed with the outcome of the jury trial. While we certainly disagree with the jury’s verdict, we respect the process of the jury system,” said First Assistant State’s Attorney Todd Eyler, who represented the county.

Eyler noted Judge Charles Burch granted a motion for directed verdict made by the county as it related to the four counts of alleged breach of contract.

“What that means is that as a matter of law, (Burch) agreed that (Blick’s) did not prove (it) had met their burden of proof when they suggested that the county or any of its agents entered into a contract for these serves,” Eyler said. “In doing so, that left only the issue of quantum meruit, which put another way is for ‘services provided.’ The award granted was what the jury believed was a fair and reasonable value of the benefit received by the county.”

Two months after the lawsuit was filed, Adams County filed a complaint against Poepping Stone Bach & Associates for failing to thoroughly inspect the properties and for failing to inform Blick’s that it did not have authority to complete additional work without written permission from the county. The county and PSBA reached a settlement earlier this year.

“(The county) won $290,000 in another suit over the jail (from PSBA),” Snider said. “We will pay for this out of the general fund. We won’t appeal. We’re moving on.”

The $32 million jail opened in May 2020. The new facility has a capacity of 192 spread out over three floors of the Adams County Courthouse, compared to the 120 prisoners the former jail could hold. The offices for the Adams County Sheriff’s Department and the Quincy Police Department are in the new building as well.

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