Clear Creek ISD files suit against hurricane debris removal company

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Dec. 7, 2010, 10:41am

GALVESTON - The Clear Creek Independent School District alleges that Cotton Commercial USA engaged in deceptive trade practices when it was brought in to assist with post-Hurricane Ike cleanup, recent court documents say.

The school district's lawsuit, which was filed Dec. 1 in Galveston County District Court, insists that CCISD mistakenly paid Cottonwood, formerly known as Cottonwood Debris Co., sums of money to which it is not entitled.

CCISD hired Cottonwood after Ike's early September 2008 landfall to remove debris from its campuses and other facilities ahead of reopening after the Category 2 storm.

According to an agreement between both parties, a rate schedule was set up which had the plaintiff pay certain labor rates for the defendant's personnel and certain unit rates for various equipment and materials.

The rate schedule also included a provision pertaining to subcontracting which states that the bill will be invoiced at cost plus 10 per cent overhead and 10 per cent profit, the suit says.

CCISD claims that Cottonwood forwarded invoices that did not reflect the tasks performed or supplies provided, additionally arguing that said invoices resulted in FEMA refusing to reimburse the school district.

The plaintiff also believes it was a victim of alleged price gouging.

"Cottonwood Debris now holds money that, in equity and good conscience, belongs to CCISD," the original petition says.

"Cottonwood Debris' continued retention of money that belongs to CCISD would unjustly enrich Cottonwood Debris."

Consequently, the school district seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Rogers, Morris & Grover LLP are representing CCISD.

The case has been to Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia.

Case No. 10-cv-4248

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