Dr. Ahmad Al-Alou is suing an engineering company after its principal engineer allegedly lied about being a certified structural engineer and refusing to perform load calculation for a portion of the doctor’s building in Garapan despite receiving an initial payment of $8,500.
Springs Development Inc., through its president Al-Alou, filed a complaint for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, and violation of Consumer Protection Act against YS Engineering before the Superior Court.
Springs Development, through counsel Robert T. Torres, asked the court to hold YS Engineering liable to pay for damages, penalties, attorney’s fees, and court costs.
Springs Development requested the court to issue an order directing YS Engineering to return all plans and documents that the company submitted for the purpose of engaging its services.
When asked for comments about the lawsuit, YS Engineering principal Yoonsik Lee said that Al-Alou “is a liar” and is destroying his reputation.
Lee said he never told the doctor that he is a structural engineer. He said, however, as a professional engineer in California and in the CNMI, he can do structural engineering services.
Lee said he explained to Al-Alou that since they put more load on the second floor of the building, it is affecting the footing of the structure.
Lee said if the footing is not increased, the building will collapse.
He questioned the bid for him to return the $8,500, saying he already performed more than 50 percent of the scope of work.
Springs Development is currently renovating the second floor of the Springs Plaza building on Chalan Pale Arnold Road or Middle Road.
According to Torres in the complaint, the construction and renovation of Springs Plaza requires the company to submit load calculations for the second floor of the building and provide a report that is to be received by the Department of Public Works to determine compliance with the Commonwealth Building Safety Code.
Torres said that on Oct. 3, 2018, plaintiff sought the services of YS Engineering to perform structural assessments of the second floor portion of Springs Plaza and to provide a load calculation to be submitted to DPW.
Springs Development, through its president and sole shareholder, Al-Alou, met with YS Engineering’s principal engineer, Lee.
Al-Alou signed YS Engineering’s written proposal, offering such services “to conduct structural assessment in regards to the reconstructed building and design of new construction” of the second floor of Springs Plaza.
The proposal incorporates a service fee for the entire project of $17,000 to be paid in two installments: 50 percent of the service fee shall be paid upon the signing of the proposal; the remaining 50 percent shall be paid upon the completion of the letter report.
Torres said Springs Development paid the defendant $8,500 on Oct. 3, 2018.
Torres said that Lee represented to Al-Alou throughout the progress of the project that he is a certified structural engineer.
Torres said that on Oct. 13, 2018, Al-Alou met with Lee at Lee’s office to discuss the progress of YS Engineering’s services.
During the meeting, the lawyer said, Lee proposed substantial change orders, which expanded the scope of services to be provided under the proposal and increased the service fees originally agreed upon by parties.
Torres said Lee insisted that he must excavate the foundations of the footing of the first floor and its retaining wall in order for him to conduct an independent verification of strength and type of materials used.
Torres said Lee’s unprecedented proposal disregarded the finding of suitability of the existing building structure as indicated in the original plan that was approved by DPW.
At the end of the meeting, Lee allegedly refused to perform the load calculation and declined to continue work.
Around the same time, Torres said, Al-Alou discovered that Lee only received a certification of license in civil engineering and not in structural engineering.
On Oct. 23, 2018, Al-Alou, through counsel, inquired with the CNMI Board of Professional Licensing regarding Lee’s status as a certified CNMI structural engineer.
Torres said YS Engineering and Lee do not possess a CNMI structural engineer license, but were listed only as a certified CNMI civil engineer.
Instead, he said, Lee is scheduled to take his structural engineer licensing exam on Oct. 26, 2018.
On Oct. 23, 2018, plaintiff served YS Engineering a demand letter for the refund of $8,500 as initial deposit for project proposal and for misrepresentation, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment.
Torres said YS Engineering has refused to reimburse Springs Development.
Torres said Lee is “purposefully and intentionally acting to cause plaintiff to expend substantial and additional monies for the project by making unsubstantiated, irrelevant, and impossible demands that is outside the scope of the proposal.”
Torres said Lee’s inability to perform load calculations constitutes a breach.
He said YS Engineering has been unjustly enriched by its unlawful retention of $8,500.
The lawyer said Lee knew that his representation that he was a licensed structural engineer was false when he made it.
“Defendant has engaged in unfair and deceptive practice in its representation to plaintiff regarding its certification, quality, and standard of services as well as implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” Torres said.