Lien & Mean

Texas attorney seeks to repossess splash pad equipment unless client is paid

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Terri Garcia (left), Houston attorney for See Spray and Phil Boevers (right), Park project construction manager

By Tim Farley and Mindy Ragan Wood – A Houston-based attorney filed two liens against Piedmont Park Project property and the splash pad equipment that was installed there, Canadian County court records show.

Terri Garcia, the attorney representing See Spray and its owner Rick Edwards of Pearland, Texas, said park project organizers can either pay her client for money they’ve withheld or she will seek to repossess the equipment. Garcia claims in the liens that Edwards and his company are owed $170,967.

Park project officials have claimed in previous interviews that Edwards and his crew did “shoddy” work and did not meet contractual deadlines. Garcia disputed those claims in a telephone interview with The Piedmont-Surrey Gazette.

“The park will have to go up for auction if my client isn’t paid,” she said. “The lien will be satisfied plus attorney fees and interest that has accrued on the money my client hasn’t been paid. After everything is paid this will wind up being a $200,000 to $300,000 contract whereas it could have been much less if they had just paid what they owe my client.”

Eric Anderson, Piedmont F&M Bank president and spokesman for the park project, was asked for comment about the liens, but declined to provide a prepared statement.
The liens were filed in connection with two separate legal descriptions.

However, the liens were not the only legal action taken this week in connection with the park.

Piedmont Park Project, SBS Development and F&M Bank filed a lawsuit against Edwards, Garcia, James Anthony, Susan Hellen, Armando Rodriguez, McKenna Contracting and International Fidelity Insurance Company for alleged breach of contract.

SBS Development is a company owned by Piedmont developer and builder Phil Boevers, according to records at the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office. Boevers acted as the park project’s construction supervisor, Anderson previously said.

Anthony and Rodriguez were subcontractors on the park project and McKenna Contracting was the general contractor for the job. Anthony and McKenna Contracting are located in the Houston area. McKenna’s only role in the project was to provide a construction bond, which park project organizers demanded, Garcia said. See Spray was the primary company involved with the splash pad.

The lawsuit was filed Oct. 2 in Canadian County District Court.

The petition accuses the defendants of breaching the contract for construction of the park project and defamation of character.

In May 2016, the Piedmont Library and Cultural Events Society (PLACES) and park project representatives entered into a contract with McKenna Contracting to complete a splash pad with park equipment. The cost of the project was $164,010 and was to be completed within a year and prior to the performance bond on May 13, 2016, the petition reads.
Garcia said the deadline was not met because of delays by park organizers.

The plaintiffs stated they paid McKenna a deposit of $62,480 and that McKenna hired a subcontractor, See Spray, to construct the splash pad project.

“Notwithstanding favorable weather conditions in late 2016 and early 2017, very little work was being performed by McKenna or its subcontractors toward completion of the splash pad project despite repeated requests and, ultimately, demands made by PLACES,” the petition reads.

Nearly one year after the contract, phase one was not complete. With the performance bond “set to elapse, PLACES notified McKenna of its failure to timely complete the splash pad project as agreed and advised of its intent to terminate the contract and recover for damages,” the petition states.

PLACES and McKenna entered into an amendment agreement on May 9, 2017 to finish the project in strict compliance with deadlines. The amendment provided additional time to complete the park. However, the plaintiffs allege the defendant did not meet that deadline.
By June 22, PLACES entered into a stipulation with McKenna and made direct payments to vendors in the amount of $23,863 and “even agreed to advance $20,996 for the second phase of the project” despite McKenna’s failure to complete the second phase.

The $20,996 payment was never made, Garcia said.

The defendants are accused of making “further demands for payment on the third phase” despite the terms of the agreement and no work having begun on phase three.
The plaintiffs state in the petition that they were told the third phase would be complete by July 24, “if a $10,000 advance was paid.” PLACES paid the money on July 20, an assertion that Garcia said isn’t true.

Park board officials said they discovered problems with the work McKenna. The petition cites failure to apply a coating to the concrete, installation of “antiquated” electronic equipment, improper installation of wiring to the valves, discolored and poorly applied paint, substandard concrete work, non-functioning valves due to improper installation, and wobbly structures missing protective caps and missing equipment.

The petition alleges that some work improperly done cannot be corrected. “McKenna and its subcontractors made patches to the concrete pad with Sakrete Concrete, which does not meet the 3,000 PSI strength value-a condition that should never have existed, cannot be corrected, and poses an issue with long term performance of the concrete pad.”

The plaintiffs calculate the total payments made to McKenna at $119,340 and “despite repeated efforts and advance payments, is no closer to opening the splash pad project.”
PLACES notified McKenna on July 31 that because of the breach of contract, they would correct the substandard work and finish the project “on its own.”

“McKenna’s subcontractors ignored this instruction and were attempting to make unapproved repairs when they were asked to leave the property…refused to leave the property, became belligerent uttering threats, and profanities toward the project manager such that local law enforcement had to be contacted to escort them off the property,” the petition reads.

Plaintiffs accuse McKenna of trying to wrongfully leverage money from PLACES by hiring an attorney (Terri Garcia) to file a lien and who “made unprivileged, defamatory statements against PLACES” in the local newspaper and TV news.

The lawsuit claims the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette aided “in the scheme” to smear the reputation of local business leaders, “even sending a person to Texas to gather more falsehoods to publish another defamatory article,” it reads. The plaintiffs complain in the petition that the attorney “had previously targeted” the park project manager “by disseminating information about another lawsuit in which his business was a plaintiff to sow seeds of discontent among PLACES organizers and volunteers.”

Garcia was outraged she was named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

“The only reason to make me part of the lawsuit is to keep me from representing my client,” she said. “You don’t file against the opposing counsel. That’s a frivolous lawsuit against me.”

Garcia said she intends to contact the Oklahoma Bar Association and file a complaint against the attorneys who represent the plaintiffs. Those attorneys are Gary S. Chilton, Stephen R. Johnson, Gideon A. Lincecum and Ryan Haynie. All of the attorneys are listed on the lawsuit.

“This lawsuit in Oklahoma is so unethical on so many levels,” she said. “For a lawyer to do that is pretty sleazy. They are doing this to manipulate the legal process. They’re trying to prevent me from representing my client.”

Garcia said she will file a federal lawsuit against the Piedmont Park Project organizers in the Southern District of Texas.

“A state district court doesn’t trump federal court when it comes to diversity,” she said.

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Eric Anderson
Paul Francel
Terry Anderson
Rick Edwards