Decision to debar contractor for five years from LACCD projects overruled

By Freddy Monares

The decision to debar FTR International from performing work on any of the schools in the Los Angeles Community College District for five years was overruled by the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles on Mar. 3.

Honorable Judge Jane Johnson ruled that the board did not have proper evidence to support their claims against FTR and did not allow due process when debarring FTR. Due process requires that the hearing judge or judges need to be impartial on the matter at hand. Evidence submitted by FTR to the board was ignored creating a bias against the contractors.

The debarring of FTR was decided by a committee of the board of the trustees of the LACCD on Feb. 8. Fraudulent and false payment application and certification of work and poor work were the three allegations that decided the hearing. On the charge of FTR submitting fraudulent and false payment application, the court found that the findings presented are not supported by the facts.

FTR claimed that LACCD’s Executive Director Larry Eisenberg directed them to submit the incorrect pay application. “I was informed that Mr. Sohn (former Program Manager), Mr. Eisenberg and Todd Cozlino (Build LACCD) approved of paying the contractor from one item to another,” Nick Quintanilla, College Project Manager, said.

On the charge of FTR submitting a false and fraudulent Division of the State Architect Verified Report (DSA-6) the Court ruled that the finding is not supported by the evidence. The evidence presented in the case clearly showed that the District relieved FTR in June 2009 due to FTR not being able to finish a punch list. A punch list is a list of items that need to be completed by contractors for 100 percent completion on the project.

FTR claimed that the District decided to move into the building more than a month before it was scheduled. The DSA-6 could not have been considered false or fraudulent because FTR was removed from the job by the District due to the company not being able to complete a punch list.

The last charge against FTR was the failure to construct the exterior wall of the Allied Health and Science Building in accordance with the contract documents. FTR argued that there was no evidence pointing to FTR’s work as the cause of the problem and there was no determination as to who did the work that caused the leaks. FTR also stated that they were not allowed to make any repairs to the leaking windows.

The Court concluded that the evidence presented does, again, not support the charging allegation. The District’s expert Robert Tittle did not interview or receive any of the architect’s plans for the exterior wall disproving that FTR failed to construct the wall with the correct specifications. Media contact for the LACCD Coby King said their position is the same as it was when he was quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Times King said, “We’re disappointed with the ruling. We disagree on both the substantive and procedural grounds on which the judge issued the decision. We will be considering our options in the coming days.”

According to the Times, FTR’s attorney Theresa Traber said FTR has had to lay off 300 employees since the board’s decision to debar FTR. Katbi is seeking damages against the district and individual board members who voted for the debarment.

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