Streetcar Troubles: City of Charlotte Sued by Contractor

The general contractor for the city of Charlotte’s streetcar extension project has filed a $115 million suit claiming breach of contract.

Johnson Brothers Corporation claims that the city failed to pay more than $100 million in “equitable adjustments, plus an extension of time,” according to the suit, which was filed in Mecklenburg County Superior Court in March.

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Johnson Brothers had been requesting a meeting with the city, according to local TV station WCNC. Its parent company, Southland Holdings, told the NBC affiliate that the city failed to acknowledge the contractor, spurring the lawsuit.

Charlotte’s most recent response was that it had no further intention of meeting or negotiating an amicable resolution of the claims, Southland Holdings Director of Corporate Processes and Contract Management Imad Mohammed told WCNC. "As a result, Johnson Bros. Corporation had no alternative but to file a lawsuit against the city of Charlotte in an effort to obtain payment in full for Johnson Bros. and its subcontractors. This is an unfortunate situation."

In 2016, Johnson Brothers submitted a bid of $89 million to do the project, which involved extending the streetcar line two and a half miles and replacing a bridge. The city blamed Johnson for extensive construction delays that aggravated local drivers and businesses, according to WCNC.

But Johnson Brothers claimed in the suit that the city limited access to the work site, poorly planned the project and made revisions that increased costs and time after which it failed to pay.

"Johnson Bros. Corporation and its team of subcontractors have delivered to the City a world-class (and award-winning) project," Mohammed told WCNC. "All Johnson Bros. is requesting is fair and reasonable payment for the cost of the work performed per the terms of the contract documents. There should be no need for any lawsuit or any expenditure of taxpayer money defending a lawsuit.”

The city’s motion for an extension of time to respond was granted in early March.