A rendering of the Jackson Lab facility under construction in Ellsworth. COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY

Jackson Lab sues Vermont contractor

ELLSWORTH — Attorneys for The Jackson Laboratory are suing the Vermont-based building contractor hired to work on the lab’s new mouse production facility in Ellsworth, according to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Bangor on Jan. 16.

Lab attorneys claim that the work done by PC Construction Co. of South Burlington, Vt., was defective and “over six months behind schedule,” according to court documents. The lab opened the first phase of its five-phase build-out in August, pushed back from an original completion date of Jan. 25, 2018.

In documents filed on Wednesday, lab attorneys claim these delays “were attributable to defects in concrete floor slabs poured by PCC and its subcontractors, causing delamination of the concrete,” according to court documents. “An epoxy coating essential to JAX’s operations could not be applied to the damaged concrete.”

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for PC Construction said: “We are not able to comment on the specifics but what we can say is that we are disappointed by this news. In everything we do we strive to deliver a great product in close partnership with our clients. We hope to have this resolved quickly.”

The lab hired PC Construction Co. in March of 2017 for a guaranteed maximum price of just over $47 million, according to documents. Attorneys claim in the filing that the construction company not only poured defective concrete but also “did not remediate the defects promptly or efficiently,” and that it “poorly managed the project, including the necessary remediation of the concrete floors.”

The claim also states that the company asked for “additional compensation” to fix the defective concrete and “other aspects” of the project.

In the filing, attorneys write that at least one of the subcontractors hired by the Vermont firm was not paid for its work and that it has filed a lien against the Jackson Lab property.

The mechanics lien, filed with the Hancock County Registry of Deeds on Jan. 4, states that Bangor-based Maine Fire Protection Systems is seeking just over $260,000 for work its staff did on the mouse production facility in October 2018.

Under the contract, write lab attorneys, PC Construction is required to hold the lab harmless from such claims.

The lab’s attorneys are seeking damages “plus interest, costs and attorneys fees,” and are asking for a jury trial.

In an emailed statement, Jackson Lab spokeswoman Stephanie Wasco said: “As a matter of practice, The Jackson Laboratory does not ordinarily comment on current litigation. The new Charles E. Hewett Center represents the culmination of nine decades of unmatched experience and leadership in breeding and caring for laboratory mice.

“The new state-of-the-art facility is now officially open and shipments have begun. This milestone allows researchers around the world to have increased access to our 11,000-plus strains of JAX Mice.”

The nonprofit purchased the 140,000-square-foot Lowe’s building for $3.2 million in 2012 and started on its rehabilitation in 2016. At the opening ceremony in October, lab officials told the audience the organization plans to spend around $150 million implementing the first two phases of construction.

Kate Cough

Kate Cough

Kate covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. She lives in Southwest Harbor and welcomes story tips and ideas. She can be reached at [email protected]

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