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Wayne sued for breach of contract in $2.1M pump project

May 24, 2023

WAYNE — A construction company from Somerset County has sued the township, claiming that it was not fully paid for a multimillion-dollar job to replace sewer pumps at a facility on Dey Road.

DeMaio Electrical Co. Inc., based in Hillsborough Township, was awarded a $2.1 million contract in September 2020 to install three new pumps.

The 2,200-square-foot facility, known as the Lower Preakness Pumping Station, contains equipment that runs 24/7 to propel wastewater through 240-plus miles of sewers.

The project hit a snag, according to a six-count lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in Paterson, when it was discovered that the pumps could not be installed as designed.

The concrete foundation was too high — by a half-inch — not allowing the larger pumps to be put in without extra work, the lawsuit claims.

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Most of the work, including lowering the foundation, was done by the end of December 2021, the lawsuit states. Within days, however, the township's third-party engineer found another issue.

The engineer, South Hackensack-based Boswell Engineering Inc., directed DeMaio Electrical to remove the pumps, to correct the problem and to reinstall the pumps, the lawsuit claims.

Even though the engineer and the pump manufacturer inspected the work and approved it, the lawsuit says, malfunctions continued to surface.

In January, the Township Council passed a resolution to declare DeMaio Electrical in default on the contract. After the installation, it says, the pumps "started making noise" and "started to leak."

It was not fixed, the resolution says, and it "remains a critical issue to the proper functioning of the station."

In April, the council passed a resolution to authorize an amendment to a prior deal with the engineer for design and oversight of work at the Lower Preakness facility and at a second facility not connected to the dispute with DeMaio Electrical — a pumping station on Jacobus Avenue.

The resolution states that due to problems at the Lower Preakness facility, a new construction company was hired, and more time was needed for inspection. Therefore, the agreement with the engineer was adjusted to $529,658.

Meanwhile, the original contractor maintains that it is not to blame.

"DeMaio was not absent in its responsibilities," the lawsuit claims, "working diligently to repair design issues that were no fault of its own, and expending significant time and resources, attempting to resolve the pump issues."

DeMaio Electrical seeks compensatory damages of $345,133; that sum does not include interest.

Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]