A State Supreme Court justice has denied the East Hampton School District a new trial in its legal battle with Sandpebble Builders, to which it owes nearly $1.5 million and counting.
After a jury found in favor of the Southampton construction firm on May 26, 2016, awarding Sandpebble $755,767 in damages, the school district filed a motion to set aside the verdict and initiate a new trial. After the court denied that motion on November 28, the school district then requested that the interest rate on the damages awarded to Sandpebble be less than the 9 percent stated in the court decision.
On December 14, Justice Jerry Garguilo ruled that the district, in fact, will have to pay the 9-percent interest on the damages beginning on September 19, 2006—when the district severed its relationship with Sandpebble on a three-school-building renovation project—and ending when the court verdict was reached in May. The interest for that period of time totals $659,120.
The court combined that with the original $755,767 award, adding another $70,474 in interest accrued from May 26 to December 14 of this year, as well as $1,155 in costs and disbursements of Sandpebble taxed by the court clerk. This added up to a current total of $1,486,516.
Sandpebble was hired to perform work for the district from 2001 to 2005. By 2006, Sandpebble claimed that the district had wrongfully terminated their contract and then entered into a new contract with a different firm for a large, three-school renovation project. The school district claimed that Sandpebble had abandoned its contract, but the jury ended up unanimously agreeing that the school district had breached its contract.
Sandpebble was originally seeking a sum of $3.7 million in damages, with interest. The district additionally has spent nearly $2.8 million in legal fees on the lawsuit.
In a recent interview, East Hampton Superintendent Richard Burns said that the district has no further plans to fight the lawsuit.
“We’re accepting the jury’s decision, which was significantly less,” Mr. Burns said, comparing it to the original $3.7 million Sandpebble was seeking. “We’re honoring the jury’s decision and we’re moving forward.”
Mr. Burns went on to say that the district officials are waiting for a final date as to when the running interest period will end, which will then provide a final amount that the district will pay. Mr. Burns said that the court has yet to confirm when the final date will be, explaining that negotiations on that matter are still going on.