BEAUMONT – After nearly three years of litigation, a breach of contract lawsuit brought by Signature Industrial Services of Beaumont against the International Paper Company has been called up for trial.
Alleging it was not fully compensated for work performed, Signature Industrial Services of Beaumont filed a complaint against Tennessee-based International Paper, Greg Bennett and Alliance Engineers & Project Consultants of Beaumont on Aug. 8, 2014 in Jefferson County District Court.
The case was called up for trial on May 15 in Judge Justin Sanderson’s 60th District Court.
For the past several months, Signature and International Paper have been battling over discovery issues, as Signature sought to discover bonuses and compensation paid to International Paper’s managers, speculating that the managers were motivated to deny payment to Signature in order to increase their bonuses.
No time frame was given on how long the trial may last.
According to the original petition, Signature was approached by International Paper and Alliance Engineers representatives and asked to bid on work to a machine known as "the Slaker." International Paper allegedly asked that the work be started even before the bid process was complete. Signature says it was assured it would be fully compensated for all work on the project.
Signature asserts International Paper promised a speedy bid and contracting process but, instead, took a week longer than expected and failed to include more than $78,000 worth of initial costs in the agreement. Two weeks into the job, Signature claims it warned International Paper that the project was going to quickly surpass the bid amount. International Paper apparently acknowledged the increased costs and agreed for the work to continue.
Signature says International Paper failed to provide drawings and materials necessary to complete the project, causing additional delays. International Paper and its representatives were "admittedly overwhelmed with the enormity of the project and the obstacles," the suit states
By April 2014, Signature says Bennett had been assigned by International Paper to work directly with the Slaker project. Bennett allegedly told Signature to continue any necessary work and submit all change orders after the project was completed rather than alert the company to budget overages while the work was under way.
In addition to problems with project costs, Signature says it raised concerns with International Paper about allegedly lax safety standards and negligence that the company says allowed caustic chemicals to spill into the work site. Signature says the chemicals caused significant damage to its property.
In its original petition, Signature also alleges Bennett publicly made a number of "slanderous and disparaging statements" accusing the company of "stealing from the mill", "lying from their bill" and "inflating invoices."
At the completion of the project, Signature says International Paper alleged the scope of work "was not substantially complete" and allegedly refused to compensate Signature as initially agreed upon.
Signature is seeking more than $1 million in damages along with court costs and attorney fees.
Attorneys Glen W. Morgan and John Werner of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn in Beaumont represent Signature.
International Paper is represented in part by Shaw Cowart attorney Ethan Shaw.
Trial case No. E-195964