Court upholds $1.9 million penalty in Mackinac Bridge paint job

The state Court of Appeals has upheld a large fine against a Minnesota company hired to paint the Mackinac Bridge back in 2007.

LANSING, MICH. - A company hired to paint the Mackinac Bridge can’t dodge a $1.9 million penalty for failing to complete the work on time.

That’s the upshot of a Court of Appeals ruling that upholds damages against Abhe & Svboda Inc., which was hired to clean and paint a portion of the Mackinac Bridge back in 2007.

A $11.4 million contract awarded by the Michigan Department of Transportation called for work to be finished by Oct. 30, 2009. It included a $3,000 penalty for each day the completion was delayed.

Abhe & Svboda, an industrial painting contractor, was assessed damages for 644 days’ tardiness, according to court records. The Minnesota-based firm sued MDOT and the Mackinac Bridge Authority, saying the penalty should not have been assessed. It claimed the delay was caused by the state’s own behavior and environmental circumstances beyond its control.

A lower court determined the penalty was valid, also noting that Abhe & Svboda did not make a “proper request for an extension of time pursuant to the parties’ contract,’’ court records show.

In a six-page ruling released this week, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision.

The five-mile bridge linking the Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula of Michigan is currently undergoing a $6.3 million paint job that got underway in April. Work is expected to continue through the end of 2018.

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