A New York-based construction engineering and design firm has joined a long list of companies suing the Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC for alleged non-payment of services.
Sardini Group Inc., through counsel Joe W. McDoulett, is suing IPI before the federal court for breach of contract and unjust enrichment/quantum meruit.
Quantum meruit determines the amount to be paid for services when no contract exists or when there is doubt as to the amount due for the work performed but done under circumstances when payment is to be expected.
In its lawsuit filed Wednesday, Sardini Group asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to hold IPI liable to pay $1.95 million in damages, plus interest, attorney’s fees, and costs.
Saipan Tribune tried to obtain comments from IPI yesterday but the company refused to provide one.
McDoulett said IPI hired Sardini to produce engineering designs for the construction of the Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino in Garapan, that Sardini completed all contracted services and IPI paid $100,000 against an outstanding balance of over $2 million. Yet Sardini continued to provide services to IPI despite the lack of payment for over six months, he said, adding that Sardini endeavored in good faith to resolve this dispute prior to filing the lawsuit, but IPI refused to honor its obligations.
McDoulett stated in the complaint that this issue arose soon after Shanghai Chinafu Structural Design Inc. and IPI inked a contract on Nov. 3, 2015, for design and engineering services needed for the construction of the IPI resort and casino in Garapan.
Chinafu, and later Sardini, agreed to provide structural engineering and design services, connection design services, site engineer support services, and additional services as required for the construction project. Prior to July 11, 2016, Chinafu assigned its rights and benefits under the contract to Sardini for the “additional services” to be performed. IPI agreed to pay Sardini according to a schedule of fees of hourly rates based on the position and experience of the Sardini person performing the additional services.
On July 11, 2016, Sardini provided IPI with a summary of all services it had performed up to June 30, 2016, and a calculation of the amount owed for those services. At that time, Sardini calculated the total amount owed at $1,228,357. On Nov. 8, 2016, Sardini invoiced IPI for $200,000, representing a partial invoice of the outstanding amounts owed. On Nov. 23, 2016, IPI paid $100,000 against the Nov. 8, 2016, invoice. Despite the failure to pay the complete amount owed, IPI allegedly continued to demand additional services from Sardini, assuring Sardini that it would be paid for the additional services.
On Jan. 2, 2017, Sardini issued a second invoice in the amount of $400,000 to request another partial payment of the amount owed. Three days later, on Oct. 5, 2017, Sardini provided an updated summary of services rendered, which included all additional services provided. The new total for services provided was $1,781,207.
On Jan. 9, 2018, Sardini renewed its request for payment. IPI assured Sardini payment would be made and the company relied on this promise when it continued to provide services after Jan. 19, 2018.
On March 5, 2018, Sardini provided an updated and final summary of services rendered. The total calculated fee for the services provided up to March 5, 2018, was $2,051,127. Yet IPI has never paid Sardini after the first initial payment of $100,000,
McDoulett said. This means IPI breached the contract by failing to make full payment to Sardini for the provision of additional services as required by the contract, he said.
IPI is already facing multiple lawsuits in federal court, including the pending cases filed by Pacific Rim Land Development LLC, U.S.A. Fanter Corp. Ltd., and seven China-based former workers at IPI. Many companies and individuals also sued IPI before the Superior Court for various reasons.