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May 27, 2016 4:12 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sandpebble To Be Awarded More Than $750,000 In East Hampton School District Lawsuit

East Hampton High School
May 31, 2016 1:17 PM

A jury determined last week that Sandpebble Builders Inc. is entitled to only a portion of the damages it was seeking in a lawsuit against the East Hampton School District, based on work the Southampton firm performed between 2001 and 2005.

Sandpebble was seeking $3.7 million plus accrued interest in total damages against the school district. But the jury awarded damages of $750,750, plus accrued interest for work the construction company performed, the school district said Friday.

That award could nearly double with interest, to almost $1.4 million, according to Sandpebble’s attorney, Stephen R. Angel of the Riverhead firm Esseks, Hefter, Angel, Di Talia & Pasca. He also noted that the jury unanimously agreed that the school district breached the original contract with Sandpebble, and that the construction firm suffered damages as a result.

“We felt very good about it,” he said on Monday. “The district spent a hell of a lot of money trying to beat us into submission, but it was a verdict that went 100 percent in favor of Sandpebble.”

According to East Hampton School District Superintendent Richard Burns, State Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo will schedule a pre-motion conference with both parties on June 13 to discuss the details of the jury’s decision.

Mr. Burns said the district will not have to borrow money via bond issue to pay damages to Sandpebble. He noted that the total amount of accrued interest to be paid would be determined at the June 13 court conference. Regardless, he said the total amount would be “far less” than the $3.7 million Sandpebble was seeking.

Mr. Angel said that Justice Garguilo gave each side 30 days to make any post-trial motions, as the lengthy court case winds to a close.

In 2006, Sandpebble claimed the district wrongfully terminated its $80 million contract, then signed a contract with a different construction company for a larger, three-school renovation. In turn, the school district claimed that Sandpebble Builders abandoned the contract.

The trial was put on hold until further notice in March 2014 after Justice Garguilo was assigned to the case as a new judge. The case was adjourned again in November until December or January before resuming in the first week of May of this year.

In January, the East Hampton School District disclosed that the district had spent nearly $2.8 million in legal fees over the course of the 10-year dispute.

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Let's remember on June 14th when HB votes for the new library that this is the construction manager that was hired by the Board. I wonder how much of the $15 million is his fee. VOTE NO.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on May 27, 16 5:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why do all these east end Villages and Boards hire Sandpebble? Betcha theres a story there!
By realistic (472), westhampton on May 28, 16 7:05 AM
Wicks law narrows the competition & tax payers are forced to spend an outrageous amount of money
By April1 (156), Southampton on May 28, 16 7:44 AM
Hey HB, why then don't you just find out instead of innuendoing? When you don't have the facts, just vote no? Sounds like intellectual lassitude which is what we have been afflicted with on the national level these last seven plus years.
By hamptonyte (14), Southampton on Jun 6, 16 10:44 PM
Sounds like BOE Southampton?????????
By knitter (1941), Southampton on May 27, 16 6:44 PM
So let's add this up: $2.8 million in legal fees plus the 750 grand. So the school district saved virtually NO money playing hard ball. We should make the former Stuperintendent pay for this.
By fire11 (276), east hampton on May 27, 16 8:42 PM
Remember, too, when Hampton Bays votes for a new library that the library's trustees are appointed, not elected, though the library is funded by tax dollars. 13 of 19 Suffolk County association libraries ELECT their trustees. HBays and WH are in the minority. Check out www.wflelectedboard.org for more information. We have a brand new library; our appointed trustees accumulated millions of tax dollars to redesign the interior space, acquire a $1 million parking lot, change the new HVAC system--that's ...more
By st (129), westhampton beach on May 28, 16 12:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
to fire11:


"So let's add this up: $2.8 million in legal fees plus the 750 grand. So the school district saved virtually NO money playing hard ball. We should make the former Stuperintendent pay for this."

If the local authorities don't "play hardball", predatory litigants treat them like doormats.

Good on you, EH School District. May others hereabouts learn from your example.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 30, 16 2:17 AM
Sandpebble case should NEVER gotten so out of control. BOE and others should were fools not addressing the merits of the dispute upfront. They failed the district. Enough said. Time to move on.
By Amagansett Voter (62), Amagansett on May 30, 16 6:57 PM
Case is ten years old. Present Administration and BOE aren't the ones that got us into the mess. Not much can be done when plaintiff doesn't want to settle.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on May 31, 16 10:06 AM