Education

University of Iowa pays $2.3 million for work on football practice center

Attorneys change course after UI loss over Children's Hospital

The University of Iowa football team’s Stew and Lenore Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
The University of Iowa football team’s Stew and Lenore Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — After initially resisting a $2 million-plus jury award in favor of a contractor on its Indoor Practice Facility, the University of Iowa paid up this month and ended a 6-year-old dispute.

The university has satisfied its $2.3 million debt with A&P Samuels Group for the Des Moines company’s work on the first phase of the 102,000-square-foot, $55 million football practice facility, according to an attorney involved in the case and documents filed April 10 in Johnson County District Court.

The company had alleged breach of contract, and in February a jury sided with it. At first, the UI asked for a new trial.

The resolution in that case came a week after the Iowa Court of Appeals sided with a contractor also seeking millions for work on another campus project — the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Before that loss for the UI at the appellate court, the dispute with A&P Samuels did not seem ripe for a fast resolution.

In asking for a new trial in the football center issue, UI attorneys in late March accused the court of making evidence errors in the first one and of allowing the contractor to prejudice jurors by telling them UI actions drove the company out of business.

A judge set an April 22 deadline — Monday — for any documents supporting the arguments.

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But in the separate Children’s Hospital case, the Court of Appeals on April 3 ordered the UI pay Cedar Rapids-based Modern Piping a nearly $18 million balance of a $21.5 million award it owed for work on the hospital and Hancher Auditorium — dashing the UI’s hopes of winning back that award.

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The university in a statement the next day said it “will pay Modern Piping $17.9 million.”

Its case against A&P Samuels officially was resolved and dismissed April 12 — a week before the UI had to go before its governing board seeking approval for a $32.5 million increase to its Children’s Hospital budget, necessary to pay the court-ordered award.

At that Board of Regents meeting, however, UI President Bruce Harreld reversed the previous promise to pay Modern. Instead, Harreld insisted the contractor has not produced the necessary closeout documents showing in detail how the project was built. And he suggested the board not pay until UI gets the documents.

Modern on Friday produced for The Gazette documents showing the hospital project manager and design professional already has signed off as having reviewed documents by the same name in summer 2018.

The university said it has “very detailed data and dates” showing those documents from Modern do not indicate the construction records being sought were submitted “in compliance with the construction contract.”

The UI, however, has not produced those documents for The Gazette.

The university late Friday did pay what it owes another contractor for work on the Children’s Hospital.

A jury awarded nearly $10 million to Merit Construction of Cedar Rapids. The UI said Friday it paid the debt — although the company has not provided similar closeout construction documents.

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Harreld said the UI settled with Merit but not with Modern because Modern wanted the UI to agree to different terms.

The university did not immediately respond Monday to The Gazette’s questions about whether Merit since receiving payment has produced the closeout documents required per the deal.

• Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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