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Jan 3, 2012 6:11 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sandpebble Wins A Round Against The East Hampton School District

Jan 3, 2012 6:15 PM

Four appeals in a lawsuit between the East Hampton School District and Sandpebble Builders were decided in State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Brooklyn on December 20.

Of the four, three have gone in favor of Sandpebble, which sued the district for $3.75 million in 2006 after a construction contract for an $80 million school renovation project went to another builder after its scope was expanded from an $18 million project. The school district countersued Sandpebble’s owner, Victor Canseco, in 2007, and the district has spent more than $2.3 million in legal fees alone so far.

“If it’s not settled, it’s going to be tried,” Stephen Angel of Esseks, Hefter and Angel, who is representing Sandpebble Builders, said on Tuesday.

“We’re quite happy about it,” Mr. Angel said. “What has happened so far is that the district has been trying to get rid of it ... trying to raise technical arguments.”

“All those are gone,” he said, unless the school district’s attorneys can prevail during a trial. “The upshot of it is that we are going forward with discovery and the depositions and we’re going to try the case,” he said.

The school district’s attorney, Kevin Seaman, on Tuesday deferred comment to the law firm of Pinks, Arbeit and Nemeth of Melville, which is representing the district in the suit. A call to that law firm was not returned, nor was an email message to East Hampton School Board President Dr. Laura Anker. An agenda for the board’s meeting on Tuesday night indicated that the Sandpebble suit would be discussed at that time.

Justices of the Second Judicial Department upheld Sandpebble’s contention that an April 2022 contract was valid and enforceable and threw out the school district’s claim that the construction company had acted in bad faith.

The school district’s attempt to amend an earlier complaint to make Mr. Canseco personally liable was rejected, as was an attempt by the district to establish that Sandpebble’s countersuit had been filed too late.

The school district did score one point, however, in that the court agreed that Debbie Mansir, formerly the East Hampton School Board president, should not be held personally responsible for having signed a contract on behalf of the board with Sandpebble. The justices said, for one thing, that the period in which that could have been done had already expired.

Mr. Angel said that the district’s attorneys are now left with having to try to prove that the contract with Sandpebble “was terminated in some fashion—that’s what they’re left with.”

If there is one, a trial would be held in Suffolk County Supreme Court, probably in Riverhead no sooner than six to 12 months from now, he said.

“We have survived all the attacks,” Mr. Angel said. “We are now going to trial. We are all going to roll the dice.”

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2.2 million in legal fees? Thats a ridiculous impossible amount to have incurred and not be in trial. This law firm has wasted tax payer dollars with bad advice. They should of gave the builder a million dollars and moved on. The time they pay the rest of their legal fees and some damages they will have cost the taxpayers 4 or 5 million bucks. Thats what you get when you have the local idiot, and overpaid top heavy administration. Time for a malpractice suit against the law firm, because this ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 4, 12 9:19 PM
Lose the bid, expect to be paid for performing no labor whatsoever/ Well, that sounds like the current state of the union.

Did Sandpebble perform any labor toward the project?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 4, 12 10:39 PM
The article says they didn't lose the bid, they won it. The lawsuit is about the job being improperly taken from them and so far, the judges seem to agree. What would you have the contractor do?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 4, 12 11:32 PM
We need to start having these Public officials be PERSONALLY liability for their actions and may be they would use a little more professionalism in the way they conduct themselves. Why should the Town be liability for their negligence? Yes yes I know we did vite them in.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jan 6, 12 9:19 AM
Its state law. its not something you can just decide to do, right or wrong.

Also, you'd have a hard time finding anyone, good, bad or indifferent, who would be willing to take public office if they were subject to personal liability for any decision they make that does not go according to plan.

that said, this lawsuit seems like one big cluster****, that could have been resolved before spending 3 mil to fight a 3 mil claim.
By tm (174), mtk on Jan 6, 12 9:54 AM
I believe that the former superintendent at the school engaged this law firm at his previous school as well on a similiar contract dispute.

I also believe that sandpebble was initially willing to settle for 1million or so after the district broke the contract.

I could be mistaken on both of the above since it has been several years.

This would be a great story for 27 east to dig into and give some real reporting on the events and timeline. I find it very interesting ...more
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Jan 6, 12 10:26 AM
In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards. - Mark Twain
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jan 6, 12 11:45 AM
I'm sorry to inform you the Southampton Press isn't a real newspaper it is a local rag. They will not write such a story because it would be news worthy. Notice the epidemic of illegals driving drunk and getting in accidents? They refuse to report on them. But thats ok the newspaper is going the way of the dinosaur.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 6, 12 10:08 PM
hey chief, not only is it a real newspaper, you've been reading it for years and commenting on its website for quite some time now. you must be the chief of putting yourself down by proxy.
By tmarie (30), Southampton on Jan 7, 12 6:50 AM