Ship repair company claims nonpayment for service

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 12, 2011, 2:22pm

GALVESTON - Joseph Comer Inc. alleges Bohen Crane and Equipment Repair and William Boone of Manvel forced it out of an assignment at a Seabrook shipyard, recent court documents say.

In a lawsuit filed Sept. 1 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas, Joseph Comer argues he furnished supplies and repairs to the M/V Reel Blessings, but Bohen and Boone ordered the work to stop and refused to tender payment.

The plaintiff claims the defendants brought in another contractor, named as an in rem defendant, to finalize work on the vessel.

The parties began their working relationship on July 26 when Boone, as a broker for Bohen, contacted and hired Joseph Comer to make yacht repairs to the Reel Blessings.

Boone issued a check in the amount of $25,000 on behalf of Bohen as a deposit to retain the plaintiff's services, and an invoice was issued for work involving floor, head liner and installation or repair of walls, the suit says.

According to the suit, the total price was still to be determined because of the undefined scope of services at the defendants' request.

Joseph Comer began work on or around Aug. 3 and was given another $7,500.

According to the original petition, the defendants wanted the plaintiff to speed up the work so they offered more money to have the tasks completed by Sept. 5.

"Relying upon the defendants' offer, the plaintiff took on additional payroll, and worked extended hours in an effort to finish the vessel within the limited time frame," the suit says.

The plaintiff claims the defendants on Aug. 24 "callously threatened to retract the previously promised performance contingent bonus" though it "had dedicated an inordinate amount of time and resources toward achieving said bonus."

Five days later, Joseph Comer sent a fax stating its intention to continue with the project and requesting written proof that it will get that opportunity, but the defendants "expressly and unconditionally demanded that the plaintiff immediately and permanently remove all labor and tools from the vessel except for the materials which the plaintiff purchased aboard," the suit says.

It adds "the defendants also informed the plaintiff they will not pay any outstanding charges for work done and materials supplied to the vessel."

Consequently, Joseph Comer seeks a minimum of $30,000 in damages.

It is represented by attorney Francis I. Spagnoletti of Pearland.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt.

Case No. 3:11-cv-407

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